Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060

Our Lady of Good Counsel
April 26, 2016

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

This year, Pentecost will be celebrated on May 15, 2016.  After taking some counsel on this, it seemed like sharing Fr. José Alberto Moura’s doctoral these, The Holy Spirit in the Charism of Fr. Gaspar Bertoni could be a help for all of us Stigmatines, to prepare spiritually for Pentecost.  Father Moura was the youngest confrere in our Stigmatine history ever to be elected Father General.  He is presently the Archbishop of Montes Claros, MG in Brazil.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church refers very briefly to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and just mentions the Gift of Counsel, [cf. CCC ## 1830, f.] – a heart to hear conversation first with God in contemplation, and then a heart to heart exchange of God’s Word which has been contemplated, is another way of expressing St. Gaspar’s ideal only to hand on only what we have first prayed over ourselves.  This particular liturgical commemoration of Our Lady [often invoked through the month of May] is chosen also remembering an experience of long years ago – in the spring of 1953 – the American Stigmatine Students studying in Rome went on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Good Counsel, in Genazzano, Italy near Rome.

St. Thomas Aquinas provides a rather lengthy treatment of the Gifts of the Hoy Spirit[1] – in one classical study, the treatment of the Gift of Counsel covers from pp.  155-171. For St. Thomas, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are among the effects of the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit[2].   Counsel is that Gift which perfects the virtue of Prudence. This Gift of the Spirit is a habit of the soul, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, helping one to judge rightly that which must be done in view of the goal that God sets for us all, viz., eternal life with Him[3].

Giving counsel is a prime Stigmatine apostolate of God’s word, “evangelical conversation”, as St. Ignatius referred to it.  There is an excellent and truly inspiring biography of St. Gaspar Bertoni, has not yet been published – but hopefully, soon will be.  In this magnificent work, Professor Ruggero SImonato entitles his biographical study as: With Meekness and Joy: A Profile of Gaspar Bertoni, a Man of Counsel.

In this wonderful work, Professor Simonato[4] speaks of St. Gaspar as being available as best he could  to the very last  days of his life,  to the Church  in his “Any Ministry of the Word of God Whatsoever” [a formula derived from St. Ignatius by St Gaspar].  Spiritual Direction was just about the last aspect of the Apostolic Mission that St. Gaspar could offer just prior to his death on Jun 12, 1853.

From his bed of almost daily atrocious pain and discomfort, St. Gaspar continued to read – or to have someone read to him. He would listen and meditate in the depths of his soul, even when he could no longer write.  When even movement in bed became difficult for him, he would still welcome anyone who needed his help, or anyone who had just wanted to visit.  He proved to be something of a ray of light on the night of those needing some direction and encouragement, emitting the light of his biblical and spiritual counsel.

His spiritual direction was modeled primarily on that of St. Ignatius of Loyola through his classical Spiritual Exercises.  The experts who have studied St. Gaspar in this aspect of his Apostolic Mission, also noted a similarity in his approach to offering spiritual direction, also  much in accord with the gentle loving method   of St. Francis de Sales.  St. Gaspar’s discourse was highly seasoned with biblical and patristic insights – he seemed to strive to lead those willing to follow his advice into the very depths of their own humanity. He always maintained that in the depths of one’s nothingness, one will always find God.

St. Gaspar is described in this phase of his life with his loving, learned style of spiritual paternity, with great cordiality and much humor in his face to face meetings.  As a spiritual father, St. Gaspar numbered some outstanding directees both men and women.  Among the women were the foundresses such as Leopoldina Naudet, Teresa Compostrina, St. Magdalene of Canossa and others.  The future Cardinal of Verona,  Luigi di Canossa – a contemporary of the English Cardinal Newman even as an old man, nourished  a high esteem for St. Gaspar who so nourished the old Cardinal’s boyhood years. There would be St. Daniel Comboni, Founder of the African Missionary Fathers of the Sacred Heart of Verona – and also the renowned philosopher, Fr. Anthony Rosmini[5].  Fr. Bertoni’s message was always one that inspired inner peace, and encouraged holiness in all who came to him.

So, this year, for our month of Mary reflection, we offer the wonderful doctoral thesis of Archbishop José Alberto Moura, CSS.   From this brilliant work, we will see the workings of the Holy Spirit in St. Gaspar – his deep interior instincts of the Spirit  – and the awesome sense of hope that he expressed by his long life, as one steeped in hope for the Mercy of God.  Let us ask our Lady of Good Counsel for help in being attentive to the whispered insights of the Holy Spirit.

Sincerely yours in the Healing Stigmata of Jesus Christ,

Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director



[1] John of St. Thomas, Gifts of the Holy Spirit,   Sheed & Ward 1951.

[2] Barthelemy Froget, OP, The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  Newman Press 1952, pp. 263, ff.

[3] Antonio Royo Marín, OP, The Theology of Christian Perfection NY: Christian Perfection 1962, pp. 373, ff.

[4] Con mItezza e gioia. Prifilo di Gaspare Bertoni, uomo di consiglio. To be published – Part V.  Nel cuore della città, # 3.

[5] All the women and men mentioned in this paragraph are briefly presented in Appendix I.
















April 1st-2nd, 2016
Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.

A “Cornelio Fabro Symposium” was held in Aquinas Hall, Catholic University of America, in Washington DC, from April 1st-2nd, 2016. An American Stigmatine confrere was chosen by the organizers, to present a few thoughts from contacts in Rome with Father Fabro.  This “Fabro Symposium’ was organized by the ’Cornelio Fabro Cultural Project’ for the sake of  bringing more and more students in this young 21st century,   to an appreciation of  the treasure that the Stigmatine, Father Fabro, has been for the Church through much of the 20th Century and beyond.

The “Cornelio Fabro Cultural Project” was founded on April 11, 2002, by the Superior General of the Institute of the Incarnate Word [founded in Argentina], Father Carlos Miguel Buela. This group has as its immediate aim the diffusion of the thought and works of Fr.  Cornelio Fabro. On March 7, 2004 the “Project” was officially presented together with the publication of the first volume of the Complete Works of Fr. Fabro. Presently 22 volumes of the 100 planned volumes have been published. In 2011 the “Cultural Project” actively collaborated in the organization of different initiatives for the celebration of the centenary of Fabro’s death [August 24, 1911-May 4, 1995].

Father Joseph Henchey, CSS participated in the Introductory Panel, and submitted an article for the Symposium. The title of this study is “Father Cornelio Fabro- A Stigmatine – Devoted to his Founder.”  From initial studies of Fr. Fabro’s voluminous works, it seems that the following phases of development took place in Father Fabro’s brilliant mind:

[1]       Early Studies in the theology of St. Thomas – the doctoral thesis of the young Father Fabro has since become a classic in the Thomistic world. This is his lasting work on ’Participation” – a major contribution to the understanding of the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas.’

[2]       Mature Research: Through the war years and beyond, Father Fabro learned Danish in order to translate some of the extensive works of Soren Kierkegaard, a Danish Lutheran writer, often dubbed ‘the melancholic Dane!’ In more recent times, however, Kierkegaard has become an important ally to Catholic theologians. Some modern readers are suspicious, if not dismissive of Kierkegaard. However, the favorable mention of Kierkegaard by Pope St. John Paul II’s Letter on Fides et Ratio offers a further reason why Kierkegaard cannot simply be rejected out of hand. Father Fabro maintained that he had learned as much from Kierkegaard as he had from St Thomas Aquinas!

These scholarly studies led Father Fabro to study in great depth the phenomenon of modern atheism, now appearing in English Translation as “God in Exile [Newman Press 1968, translated by the Canadian scholar Arthur Gibson – with an enthusiastic Foreword composed by the renowned scholar, John Macquarrie.

[3]       Spiritual Fulfillment – these would   Fabro’s Vatican II years and beyond, 1965-1995. He was appointed to be one of the Consulters in preparation for the Council. In this period, his fertile pen produced some truly extraordinary works: Prayer in Modern Thought; Gemma Galgani a Witness of the Supernatural [Published by the Passionist Congregation]; Times of the Spirit [2 volumes published by the Franciscans of Assisi.

Father Henchey translated three fine, substantial studies of Father Fabro regarding St. Gaspar Bertoni:

  • An Ecclesial Priest: Blessed Gaspar Bertoni [1982];
  • Gaspar Bertoni: Witness of the Supernatural [presented at Bertoni Symposium, Angelicum University Rome, October 28, 1989];
  • Gaspar Bertoni: A life illumined by the Supernatural [published posthumously in 2009].

In his paper presented to the Symposium, Father Henchey offered a brief outline of St. Gaspar Bertoni’s life and spirituality.   Father Fabro – no stranger to physical suffering himself – was deeply moved by the fact that from perhaps the age of 45 until his death at 76, St. Gaspar suffered atrociously and almost daily from poor medical treatment and the deterioration of a leg fistula that eventually developed into cancer.  The Founder’s long years of immobility also brought on very serious and painful bed sores, along with severe arthritis

There is an unusual parallel in Kierkegaard’s dates – 1813-1855 – with St. Gaspar being at the Stimmate, 1816-1853.  While they were contemporary, there is no indication that they had ever known each other; there is nonetheless a striking consonance of some spiritual principles shared by Father Bertoni and Kierkegaard.

Several key texts from Father Bertoni’s Spiritual Diary for Father Fabro would be these three:

[1]       [Spiritual Diary] MP – July 30, 1808: [St. Gaspar’s Spiritual Model:   [AssimilationCommunion – ‘Con: Suffering (Col 1:24) Crucified; Buried; Risen’] – CopyExampleFiliation – Following/ ImitationHeir –   InheritanceICON: Col 1] – One LifeRecapitulationMartyrUnion (GS 22) – Witness, etc.]  – on the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola],

[17.]         For the examination of conscience one should choose a Saint of the same vocation as a mirror. In this way one finds matter for confession every day. Whatever falls short of that Saint’s perfection is faulty…

[2]       MP – September 15, 1808: [Apostolic Influence of St. Ignatius]

[41.]         Introduction to the Spiritual Exercises. While visiting the altar of St Ignatius with my companions I felt much devotion and recollection with great inner cheerfulness and some tears – even though the visit was short. I had the feeling that the Saint was welcoming us and inviting us to work for the greater glory of God as he did. To work in the same ways: though not using all those means [modi] that he was able to use.  He seemed to tell us: “Onward, soldiers of Christ! Gird yourselves with fortitude! Pick up the shield of faith, the helmet of Salvation, the sword of the divine Word and fight against the “ancient serpent”. Make my spirit alive again in you and in others through you”.

[3]       MP – October 9, 1808: [St. Gaspar’s 31st birthday] – A Eucharistic, Trinitarian Spirituality

[59.]         Feast of St Denis and the Maternity of the Virgin Mary.

During the Eucharistic prayer of the Mass near the time of the memento, it seemed that my mind opened up to know with Whom was I speaking. I felt great affection and an enthusiasm of love in prayer.  Then some outbursts of my heart for God and some impulses of my spirit towards God.   I seemed to be like a person overwhelmed by the appearance of a great friend who had not been seen for a long time and on seeing him suddenly, he wants to throw himself at him and embrace him.  Then I felt a desire that the vision could increase and an impulse to be able to reach the Supreme Good. Since I was in public I feared [the feeling of] some vanity and I [made an effort to] think of my most serious sins. As a consequence [I felt] an increase of knowledge of goodness and love which dissolved in most soothing tears which lasted until after Holy Communion.  In the meantime, faith and confidence increased very much together with humility and loving reverence.  Lastly, at Communion, a very intense devotion and sentiment similar to that of my First Holy Communion: an experience that I am not aware of having felt since. The recollection lasted for another hour and it remained for the rest of the evening.

            A contribution from S. Kierkegaard for Father Fabro’s understanding of his saintly Founder:

Contemporaneity:  A life-long influence for Father Bertoni was his daily sufferings from the age of 45 until he was 76, when he died.

There is, then this consonance of Kierkegaard with Fr. Bertoni which goes back to their common font, the New Testament.  Furthermore there are traces of common readings of Catholic mystics, such as The Imitation of Christ, St. Therese, St. John of the Cross, Fenelon, St. Alphonsus de’ Liguori …[1]

This was a life, that of Father Bertoni, about half of which was spent on the Cross, with his long and painful illnesses, “… under the irons and the   knives of the doctors …” as he himself often preferred to write, in a joking manner, especially to Father Bragato. This seems to demonstrate a capacity of endurance that amazed and moved even to tears the surgeons themselves. The documents speak of some 300 inflictions of deep   lancing and incisions on his flesh in order to diminish a kind of cancerous growth which had invaded his right leg.

The characteristic or the authentic originality of Fr. Bertoni’s grasp of this seems to be that of being more lived than theorized. It seems to spring from that unconditional self-emptying of his soul into the Mystery of the Incarnation.  This derives from that interior thrust of his of transcending every adherence to creatures, which is at the same time, as a placing of himself at the total disposition of the will of God for the salvation of his brothers and sisters, in every occasion and at all times.

A Life totally for the Church

The actuality of the figure and the undertakings of Father Bertoni can be summarized in two simple phrases: A Man totally Evangelical and totally ecclesial.  His was a soul permeated with the spirit of the Gospel, and devoured by his zeal for without boundaries. We learn from Father Lenotti that his principal study was Sacred Scripture, some of which he knew by memory. As a result his ordinary manner of speaking was fully scriptural. In the nearly iconoclastic fury which has attacked the sacred text on the part of some modern criticism, u.

Father Bertoni’s times were quite different from ours.  However, the sufferings of humanity, the crisis of faith, the situation of the Christian on this world… seem to intensify all the more as these realities impact every age, at every turn of human progress.  The manners of thinking change, and also the prospects of civility: the trajectory of life towards the gulf of death, and being overwhelmed by the same enigmas, no matter what the number and the qualities of elements that work in its mutating arch.

Today hope is much magnified, and this is good: however, for us, it has to be a Christian hope; it needs to address believers upward toward those immutable goods and yearn for that Augustinian Sabbath that will never end. Therefore hope must be nourished by faith, and must flow forth within its certainties’, and not get diverted into the earthly swamps rivet itself in some kind of a “foolish flight.”  This needs to be a hope which enkindles one toward the elevation toward God and in the service of one’s neighbor.

Father Bertoni was one who was malleable, but firm at the same time. He knew how to ponder the signs of his times, he read and had others read the daily newspapers as something most useful from which one might draw new avenues for the apostolate.  However, he observed in his Diary: “… It is necessary to enter into the house of another in a manner so that what we might learn then to lead others to ours.”  This is a rule of realism and of boldness, it seems to us and not just another form of aggiornamento of the Church in this world, or some other format of ‘dialogue with this world’, which have often amounted tactics of equivocal compromises. What needs to be concluded from all this is a service of fidelity to the salvific Truth with respect to the mystery of freedom.

Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS

April 4, 2016


1] Translator’s Note:  in these last few paragraphs, Fr. Fabro offers a real theological presentation of Holy Abandonment, and provides excellent sources for further reflection.



Fabro Symposium Presentation by Father Joseph Henchey, CSS

Fabro Trilogy – by Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS




Fabro podiumFabro Panel







Fabro Symposium Henchey


Dear Friends of the Stigmatines,

Every year – on the Friday following Divine Mercy Sunday (Second Sunday of Easter or traditionally, Low Sunday) – the Stigmatines celebrate what is called our “Titular Feastday” or “Title Day”. This year, our Feast is celebrated on Friday, April 8th. On this day, in a special way,  we honor the Five Wounds of our Savior, Jesus Christ. In this celebration we recall the “Sorrowful” Wounds and give our Lord praise and gratitude for His Saving Passion – and we also celebrate the “Glorious” Wounds of Jesus – the Wounds he kept after His Resurrection – “trophies”, if you will, of His compassionate and merciful love.

This year, our Feast of the Sacred Stigmata is celebrated within the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Pope Francis has stated that “God always thinks mercifully” (Pope Francis, The Church of Mercy: A Vision For The Church, p. 73). Our Holy Father continues: “God came out of himself to come among us; he pitched his tent among us to bring us his mercy that saves and gives hope” (ibid.). This is yet another way of appreciating and understanding the commemoration and celebration of Jesus’ Five Precious Wounds. They evidence the magnitude of Christ’s salvific love for us. Just as Saint Thomas probed these Holy Wounds (John 20.27), so we are invited to give our attention to Christ – by adoring His Wounds – the holy marks of His great and saving love.

From Easter through Pentecost, we are invited by the Sacred Liturgy to contemplate God’s love on our behalf – in His Passion and Death, Resurrection, Ascension and Sending of the Holy Spirit. It is such a “Holy Time” for us to remember and celebrate the “wideness” of Jesus’ love. May this sacred time bring you many blessings!

Please be sure that you and your intentions will be remembered by the Stigmatine Fathers on the great Solemnity of the Sacred Stigmata on April 8th. We ask for your prayerful remembrance, too. May God continue to bless you in this reverent and  beautiful Easter Season.

In the Sacred Stigmata of our Lord,

The Stigmatine Fathers
Holy Spouses Province