All posts by terezacl


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


Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060

March 27

Very dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

The Stigmatines have three major community liturgical celebrations: January 23rd; the feast of the Hoy Souses, Mary and Joseph – June 12th, the Solemnity of the canonized Founder – and the Friday after Mercy Sunday, the Feast of the Sacred Stigmata [this year, it is commemorated on April 8th].

As we are soon to remember the last mentioned, the Sacred Stigmata are remembered on Good Friday, as a major cause of our Lord’s death. They are also remembered on “Mercy Sunday’, as the Gospel is on the wounds of Christ retained in His risen body, the source of the Church’s Apostolic Mission of Mercy.

Over the years, this liturgical commemoration has moved around a little in the calendar of the year, due to the number of elements the community wanted to commemorate in its celebration:

  • Before the IInd Vatican Council, the usual celebration was on the Friday before Lent – this was preceded by a Novena of prayers among the Stigmatines. This led to the comment of my old Novice Master, Fr. John B. Zaupa, our only Father General who served as Fr. General for three terms: in Rome, spring comes once the three Novenas are completed: the one for Christmas; then, the Novena for the Espousals day in January- and then the Novena in preparation for the Last Friday before Lent. This led to the old saying among the Stigmatine community “old-timers’ regarding this feast celebrated on a Friday:

In Chiesa, Grande Festa –
In refettorio, feria Sesta!

[This meant: in Church we had a great a joy-filled celebration – but in the refectory it would still be Friday!]

  • The present placing of the Feast of the Stigmata in the Easter time remembers this revelation of the Mercy of God – but a Friday was chosen, that we never forget the sorrowful side of these two aspects, both sorrowful and glorious.

As in the Eucharist, we pray with the Church each day: Say only the Word and my soul will be healed. She learned from Isaiah 53:5, that the wounds inflicted on the mysteries Suffering Servant would be instruments of our healing!

The accompanying document is an excerpt from the introduction to my study Stimmate Integre[1], in which I offer a few reflections on the feast of the Sacred Stigmata, and in general on the Stigmatine Charism.

A blessed Easter time and feast of the Sacred Stigmata to all!

Sincerely, in the Sacred Stigmata of Our Lord Jesus Christ,

Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director


P.S.: I take this opportunity to let you know I will be participating in a Symposium on Father Cornelio Fabro, CSS, in the Catholic University of America, in Washington D.C., on April 1st – 2nd, 2016. For further information, this is the web-address:


Appendix I: “A Few Reflections on the Feast of the Sacred Stigmata”, by Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS – 2000.

[1] The study Stimmate Integre can be found on the website: “A Tribute to St. Gaspar Bertoni”:, under “Life & Spirituality”.



Traduzione in Italiano (da Padre Giancarlo Mittempergher, CSS):

Tradução em Português (por Tereza Lopes, leiga Estigmatina):



Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL     60060

Palm Sunday 2016
March 20

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

With this date, a long and cold winter is now just hours away from ending.  And, with Palm Sunday, we enter into a truly ‘Holy Week’ – the conclusion of Lent through a Liturgy of hope-filled faith that sheds much light on the mysteries in which we believe: the Eucharist and Priesthood, instituted together at the Last Supper – the sorrowful wounds on the Lord of Good Friday – and the glorious aspect of the Stigmata of Easter night. In the Cenacle room, Christ shows his wounds, retained in His glorious body, and presents these as the integral source of the Apostolic Mission: As the Father sent Me, I now send you [cf. Jn 20].

With the mystery of death, we are also encouraged to believe in the healing and saving wounds of the Risen Lord. Scripture offers a variety of wounds why we suffer: Punishment for past sins; Purification of our present state; Pedagogy, in that suffering, is the ‘School of God’ for St. Gaspar [Letter # 45, p. 109; # 157, p. 256; 2nd Letter 2 to Bragato, p. 326]; Repentance to ask the Lord’s Pardon; Eschatology, in that we do not have here a lasting home – and finally, this is a personal lesson of Christ Himself. Whatever He assumed [suffering and death] He has redeemed.

Over the centuries, some experts have taught that one of the underlying causes for Atheism is the apparent powerless-ness of God. The Stigmata, in their integral aspects, teach us that as every sin confessed is sacramentally transformed from being an obstacle to God’s grace to a co-efficient of the penitent’s holiness.

The life of St. Gaspar shows us that the path to holiness, while universal for all, is tailored for each persevering believer: in his own life, he was moved by grace to accept the atrocious suffering’s of life-long poor health and painful surgeries, enabling to be blessed in them with the mysticism and the wisdom of the Cross of Christ. As Isaiah of old spoke of a mysterious suffering Servant, whose wounds would heal us [Is 53, 5] – St. Peter saw this theme in his first Encyclical to the Church, explaining the spirituality of Baptism. St Peter states: By His wounds, you have been healed!  [1 P 2:24].

In Jesus’ Passion and Death, we are given a participation in the very nature of God:  through His precious promises we have all come to share in the divine nature [cf. 2 P 1:4]. The Cry of the Church in every Mass is: Lift up your hearts!

In the accompanying study, let us reflect on the image of the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world.

A blessed Easter to all!

Sincerely in the Healing Wounds of Christ,

Rev, Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Moderator


Appendix I:


This letter, originally in English and translated into Italian and Portuguese:





Happy Easter!

Dear Friends of the Stigmatines,

As I write this message, it is the Feast of Saint Joseph! Our Holy Founder, Saint Gaspar Bertoni, gave us Mary and Joseph, as our Holy Patrons. May Saint Joseph guide and be with you each day!

We are entering Holy Week and the great Easter Season that extends through Pentecost. This is certainly a blessed time for us all. Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI offers us some wonderful insights into the Easter Feast and Season. In his book, Holy Days, Meditations on the Feasts, Fasts and Other Solemnities of the Church (pp. 52 & 53), he states:

“…death does not have the last word, because Life will be victorious at the end.”

This certainty of ours is based not on simple human reasoning, but on a historical fact of faith: Jesus Christ, crucified and buried, is risen with his glorified body. Jesus is risen so that we too, believing in him, may have eternal life. The resurrection, then, is not a theory, but a historical reality revealed by the man Jesus Christ by means of his “Passover”, his “passage”, which has opened a new way between heaven and earth (cf. Heb. 10.20). It is neither a myth nor a dream, it is not a vision or a utopia, it is not a fairy tale, but it is a singular and unrepeatable event: Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary, who at dusk on Friday was taken down from the Cross and buried, has victoriously left the tomb. The resurrection of Christ is our hope! This the Church proclaims today with joy. She announces the hope that is now firm and invincible because God has raised Jesus Christ from the dead. She communicates the hope that she carries in her heart and wishes to share with all people in every place.

As always, Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI writes so eloquently. He captures the essential Easter message of hope.

The Stigmatine Fathers are devoted to this Easter message. Our devotion to both the sorrowful and glorious Wounds of Christ invite us to bring the Easter message of peace and joy to all whom we serve. We are so happy and privileged to share the Lord’s message: “Peace be with you!”

Thank you for visiting us through this medium of communication. Please be sure of our continued prayers for you, your loved ones and all your intentions. As always, we ask you to pray for vocations to the Stigmatine Priesthood and Religious Life.

A blessed and joyous Easter Season!

The Stigmatine Fathers
Holy Spouses Province



February 22, 2016
Chair of St. Peter

Very dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

We are approaching the mid-way point of Lent – and in anticipation of a new spring-time, and of Laetare Sunday. This is a time likewise of Prophetic Joy – as also happens with the Third Sunday of Advent. We look forward in faith and hope to our Redemption as celebrated with the Sorrowful Stigmata of Good Friday. We need also to ponder a bit further, and look forward to the Healing and Glorious Stigmata of Easter Sunday. On this day, the Precious Blood and the Risen Body of the Lord are received together in the Holy Communion – as we ponder the words of Jesus regarding His own Mission: As the Father sent Me, now I am sending you…! Showing His Glorious Wounds, Jesus commits to us all to our share in His Personal Mission of revealing the Merciful Father’s face. This is known also as the “Apostolic Mission”, that same Mission He received personally from His Father, shared with His Apostles, and meant to be taken up by each of the baptized down through the centuries, and has nourished us with our every Amen at Holy Communion.

On this Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, each one of us is invited to ponder that share of the Cross committed to St. Gaspar in his Trinitarian, Christological, Ecclesial and Eucharistic vocation – one that was forged in St. Gaspar, deeply wounded by personal suffering for years on end. The Stigmatine Spirit gifted to us all challenges each of us in our deferential service in continuing Christ’s Mission in responding to the needs of the Church today, wherever we are. St. Gaspar has left behind a series of rather massive writings where he pondered two-fold aspects of the one mystery of the Most Sacred Stigmata. St. Gaspar did not have any “experiential” knowledge of the Sacred Wounds of the Lord, as has been attributed to St. Francis of Assisi and in the 20th century, the Franciscan, St. Pio.

However, there were very painful incidents in St. Gaspar’s life that profoundly affected him and his personal spirituality. It all enabled him as the long years of his went by, as he put on the mind of Christ Jesus [cf. Ph 2:5, ff.]. These would be:

  • the deaths of his loved ones, with whom he shared his childhood years – particularly, perhaps his 3 year old sister, Matilda;
  • the separation of his mother and father;
  • some apostolic fear and trembling – as his “stage-fright’ in teaching catechism when his Bishop suddenly appearing to listen to him; or his assignment to help wayward priests, in some instances older than he was, and to guide them back to their priestly mission;
  • life-long and extended illnesses and repeated painful lancing of leg ulcerations;
  • the lack of development in the Congregation.

Perhaps much like St. Paul, St. Gaspar also experienced intimate solidarity with Christ, and bore something of a type of the stigmata of the Lord, bearing faithfully the “brand-marks of Jesus” [cf. Ga 6:17; 1 Co 4:11, ff.], “the sting of the flesh”.   St. Gaspar certainly lived his “thorn” throughout so much of his life [cf. 2 Co 12:7], constantly making up “for what was lacking in the sufferings of Christ!” [cf. Col 1:24] in his deferential service for the much troubled Church of his time.   St. Gaspar was convinced that we are all called to live with Him in the power of God [2 Co 13:4].   This is one of the “modes”, manners of living the life of Jesus Christ. [cf. CF # 2]. This is how the Stigmatine Founder made a lifelong oblation [obsequium] to God’s Mercy [cf. Rm 12:1] of his sufferings in union with those of Jesus Christ.

One of the features of St. Gaspar’s voluminous writings is that there is hardly any explicit mention of the sublime doctrine in his special devotion to the Espousals of Mary and Joseph. But, his writings evidence a fuller appreciation of the integral Stigmata of Jesus Christ, i.e., the Sorrowful and Glorious dimensions of the one mystery.

There follows in Appendix I some excerpts on ‘The Integral Paschal Mystery’: first, a brief sampling of some of St. Gaspar’s writings [‘Meditations in Primum Regum’], and secondly a summary of my study ‘Stimmate Integre’ (that can be found in full in the website ‘A Tribute to St. Gaspar Bertoni’ – – under ‘Life & Spirituality’).

Hoping that my efforts here are not too extended, this lengthy note is only meant for our personal Lenten reflections and an increase of our hope in the Mercy of God – uniquely manifested in the Healing Wounds of our Risen Lord.

Respectfully and lovingly in the Merciful Lord and His Healing Wounds,

Father Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director






Lenten Greetings!

St. Gaspar Bertoni, Founder of the Stigmatine Congregation

St. Gaspar Bertoni, Founder of the Stigmatine Congregation

Dear Friends of the Stigmatine Fathers,

As you visit our website, we are beginning the Holy Season of Lent – the Church’s time of retreat and reflection on our Lord’s deep love for us all. Due to our devotion to the Sacred Five Wounds (Stigmata) of Christ, we Stigmatines find Lent to be a great blessing that gives us a special time to honor our Lord’s suffering and Passion – all for the forgiveness of our sins. May this Lenten Season truly be a time of renewal for us all.

In his book, Holy Days – Meditations on the Feasts, Fasts, and other Solemnities of the Church, Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI offers a beautiful reflection on Ash Wednesday and Lent. He states:

In his book, Holy Days – Meditations on the Feasts, Fasts, and other Solemnities of the Church, Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI offers a beautiful reflection on Ash Wednesday and Lent. He states:

In his book, Holy Days – Meditations on the Feasts, Fasts, and other Solemnities of the Church, Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI offers a beautiful reflection on Ash Wednesday and Lent. He states,

At the beginning of Lent, which represents an intense path of spiritual training, the liturgy proposes three penitential practices that are precious to the biblical and Christian tradition – prayer, almsgiving and fasting – in order to prepare oneself to celebrate Easter more properly and thus to have the experience of the power of God who “triumphs over evil, washes away our sins, restores innocence to sinners, joy to the afflicted, extinguishes hatred, brings us peace and humbles the proud in the world” (Easter Proclamation). Lent recalls to us the forty days of fasting that the Lord underwent in the desert, prior to commencing his public mission. The Holy Scriptures and the entire Christian tradition teach that fasting is a great help to avoid sin and everything that leads to it. That is why, in the history of salvation, the invitation to fast recurs time after time. The faithful practice of fasting contributes to the unification of the human person, body and soul, by helping one to avoid sin and to grow in intimacy with the Lord.

In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, this message is echoed by our Holy Father, Pope Francis. He reminds us of the “wideness” of Jesus’ merciful love. The Sacred Stigmata of Christ is “proof of this love.” The Stigmatines – since 1816 – have proclaimed this message of hope. We thank you for supporting our mission and we pray that the Lord of Mercy will touch your lives anew with His gracious love.
May the Lenten Season be filled with many blessings for you. Please be sure of our continued prayers for you and all your intentions.

Lenten blessings,

The Stigmatine Fathers
Province of the Holy Spouses, Mary and Joesph

Rev. James Cunningham, CSS is called back to Father’s home

Father James T. Cunningham, CSS
December 21, 1919              + January 22, 2016

Father Jim Cunningham in June, 2004
Father Jim Cunningham in June, 2004

My husband, Vicente, and I, had opportunity of meeting Father Jim Cunningham in the year of 2004, almost 12 years ago, when visiting the Stigmatine community in Waltham, MA. For all the times I had opportunity of being with him, I had a clear understanding that I was with a Saint, that had just come down from heaven.He used to give a blessing to whoever he met during the day, and tell each one words of love, peace and hope. He used to offer Mass and play accordion in nursing homes.

We had opportunity of seeing him many other times, even though we don’t leave close to Waltham. Each time was a God’s gift to us.

Now, he is just called back home by our Heavenly Father. While we are already missing him, we know we have now a new intercessor in heaven.

May God rest you, dearest friend! Thank you for your loving presence among us on earth.


 (All taken at the Stigmatine propertyu in Waltham, MA)

Father Jim Cunningham on his 85th birthday, in December 21, 2004
Father Jim Cunningham on his 85th birthday, in December 21, 2004


Father Jim Cunningham in January, 2005
Father Jim Cunningham in January, 2005


Father Jim Cunningham in March, 2006
Father Jim Cunningham in March, 2006


Father Jim Cunningham in July, 2009
Father Jim Cunningham in July, 2009




Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL     60060

Feast of Holy Espousals
January 23, 2016

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

At least in Chicago for this Year of Mercy, we were blessed with surprisingly mild temperatures up through Christmas. However, with January, severe temperatures of deep cold have covered so much of this northern hemisphere.  However, with hope in our hearts – at both ends of each day, little by little a minute is added to the light of both ends of the day – dawn comes a bit earlier and sunset is about a minute later each day. Soon it will be ground Hogs’ Day, with winter already half over.

As a result, at this time, I have been moved by reading again St. Gaspar Bertoni’s Lenten homily of well over two hundred years ago – about 13 years before he established the Stigmatines, on November 4, 1816. As you know, this year [2016 – a Year of Mercy] is the second centenary of the Stigmatine Community.

St. Gaspar Bertoni preached this homily in his parish Church the day before spring was due to begin that year of  1803. In this sermon, he brings up the matter of the Eucharist, the Most Blessed Sacrament – and he calls to mind an old idea that the Church nourishes regarding Holy Communion: Say only the word, and my soul will be healedThis is a paraphrase of a Synoptic statement, and was further developed by St. Ignatius of Antioch [commemorated in the Liturgy on February 17th]. He was an old Bishop of Antioch, in Syria– and was tormented as an old man, by being chained and forcibly brought to Rome for execution, walking frequently long distances in this situation. He considered that the sting of the Serpent of Genesis left poisonous venom in our human system, which needs the Eucharis regularly as our pharmacum], a Greek word from which we derive farmacy] to help to heal spiritual difficulties.

It would suffice to read St. Gaspar’s Spiritual Diary, covering the years 1808 – 1813 of his life, to see what a profound impact the Eucharist had on his own long-suffering spiritual life.  He saw it as a need – and one that gave him much fortitude and constancy in persevering in his call until his dying day.

With this Lent, let us do what we can to deepen our own Eucharistic faith – and our Apostolic Mission of sharing God’s word in the “New Evangelization” on our presently lived situation. St. Ignatius of Loyola, named for the old Bishop of Antioch, developed to an art form what Jesuits termed as “evangelical conversation. As a honored part of the Ignatian Apostolic Mission. In this Year of Mercy let us be open to receive in abundance the Mercy of God that we all need and share this with one another by pardoning any and all who jay who offend us.

God bless you all – let us continue to pray for each other.

Sincerely in the Healing Wounds of Christ,

Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director