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LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY FOR AUGUST, 2017

Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060

August 8, 2017
Commemoration of St. Dominic

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

This month is highlighted by the Solemnity of the Blessed Mother in her Assumption into heaven. The “style’ of this month’s  letter to our group, is to serve as a reminder for us all to pray for one another through St. Gaspar Bertoni’s intercession, that we might all one day join Mary now assumed into heaven. May this Solemnity serve as a reminder for all of us to add as an intention of our prayer for one another, that we might all live in an ever more intense hope of our own being called home to heaven in God’s own time.

With the long and spectacular Pontificate of Pope St. John Paul IInd, many still think of his actual living out of his  Pontifical Motto,  Totus Tuus – “all Thine” O Lord. He truly poured himself out into his service of the Church unstintingly, and totally – and provided us all with an example. As we know from the Vatican II Document, Lumen Gentium, there is a universal call of the whole Church to holiness. As the great Dominican theologian, Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, OP wrote in his Christian Perfection and Contemplation,  that the Sacrament of Baptism when properly developed and unhindered, has within its effects that of sublime holiness is the vocation of all the Baptized.  St. Gaspar helps us with this ideal – let us ponder his teaching from his own Spiritual Diary, called the Memoriale Privato in Italian:

… Only God knows what He would accomplish within us if He were not impeded by us…

14th FEBRUARY 1809

[106.]       … This came from the interior security she [St. Teresa of Avila] had in following God’s will. She strongly believed that there is nothing that could hamper God from realizing what He has established.

Her only fear was that she would not correspond duly to the graces of God.

This is a principle that aims at its being reproduced in each one’s life. But who is this personality about whom Fr. Bertoni writes?  We believe it is a person of the caliber of St Teresa of Avila. The traits are very probably hers. Here are some texts from her Life:

… I happened sometimes to feel tormented by most serious tribulations, having become the object of detraction on the part of this city and of my own Order. Many more afflictions of a different nature gave me further cause for anxiety. In those circumstances, I could hear the Lord telling me: “What do you fear? Don’t you know that I can do anything? What I have promised, I’ll accomplish? (it had always been so, in fact!)”. I then would muster up courage and become ready to embark upon any new work whatsoever. I would face, for the service of God, even greater torments and suffering, though it was very heavy for me. This experience happened so many times that I cannot remember.”  [1]

“Oh, what a joy to have to suffer in doing God’s will!”[2]

“The only ambition we can have (and God does not allow any other), must be that we serve His Divine Majesty at any cost.  In my Foundations, I never did anything, as little as it could be, which would have seemed to disagree with God’s will.” [3]

“Whatever we do for Him, is always too little.”[4]

“Blessed be God, because if we do not fail Him, he will never fail us first.’[5]

“Oh, what a misfortune to live in this life! It is like having always our enemies at the door. We cannot leave our arms even for eating and sleeping. We are continuously fearing that somebody, somewhere, should attack and storm our stronghold! … Pray, my dear daughters, that his Majesty should always live in me. Otherwise, after having spent my life in such a miserable way, I would not know how to give myself comfort.” [6]

“It is clear that a person must never rely on oneself. One should never expose oneself to temptation. Even if one had received many graces of Prayer. We can always fall. Be very careful! I beseech you for God’s sake.’ [7]

29th JULY 1809

[144.]       God does not turn down any of those who want to militate under the banners of His Son, and who avail themselves of the means He has prescribed: namely prayer and mortification. Indeed, such a person will have a glorious triumph.

This is a point from St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises. The Meditations of The Kingdom of Christ and The Two Standards have the same conclusion, i.e. the voluntary enrolment in the army of the Lord. However it is necessary to accept the conditions, i.e. to follow Christ in poverty, in self – abnegation, in humility and to take up His weapons which are prayer and mortification. Victory and triumph will follow. We take some passages from the Meditations, which Fr. Gaspar gave the Seminarians in 1811:

… We know where God called us from, but we do not know where will He lead us to.  We cannot imagine what would God do of us,  who are the apple of His eye,  if we did not raise obstacles to His grace, but would instead surrender ourselves always and totally to His hands! …  When we abandon ourselves to Him and follow Him faithfully and steadily and, in all humility, do not take the lead before Him…the Lord adds His share…  [8]

18th MAY 1811

[168.]       Undertake the spiritual journey by the narrow way and by Penance.

The text is inspired by the verse in Matthew 7:14: Narrow is the road that leads to life.   It could have been an inner voice, or taken for such by Fr. Bertoni who wanted to register it on paper and make it into a personal resolution. It could otherwise have been a generous resolution developed by himself which became a decision of his conscience in imitation of the Saints. What we are sure of is that he took it very seriously. So seriously that his biographers gave the blame to the severe miliary fever, which devastated him in 1812 and put the rest of his life [+June 12, 1853] in jeopardy, due also to his excessive work. He had not spared himself in the ministry and in the acts of penance: fasting and mortification to gain self-control. Furthermore, he was convinced that in order to correspond to the graces God gave him and to follow the mission he felt he was invested with, he could do nothing less than that. For many, especially in later life, this hope is challenged by chronic poor health.

[169.]       I shall forget your sins, and I shall show you how many things you have to bear in my name.

It sounds like part of a dialogue between the Lord and his Servant.  God calls Fr. Bertoni to the undertakings of His glory.  Fr. Bertoni, (we suppose), objected like St. Peter after the first miraculous catch of fish:  Depart from me, Lord, because I am a sinner (Luke 5:8). The Lord replied: I shall forget your sins… (Is 43:25) or I shall never again recall their transgressions (Heb 10:17). He repeats what he had said to St. Paul: I shall show him how many things it is necessary that he should bear for my name. (Ac 10:16). Similar words have been directed to several Founders of Religious Orders. Fr. Bertoni will address these – and in Latin! – to Leopoldina Naudet on 14 Dec 1812. He will even add, jokingly as Saints can do: Take courage! This is the best share which God keeps in store for His beloved ones: … it is not a mouth-full for all!

[170.]       Very few are the people who have the perception of what God would do of them if He was not hindered by them in His plans.

It is the great Ignatian principle which became one of the corner-stones of Fr. Bertoni’s spirituality. Here it is presented in the form in which Fr. Mariani, S.J. reported it. It is worthwhile to quote here the original form as we have it in Bartoli’s book:

… Very few are those who have the perception of what would God do with them if they would put themselves totally into His hands and let His grace work in them. One would never believe that a rough and shapeless trunk of a tree could become a statue which will be admired as a miracle of wood-carving. That trunk, if it depended on itself, would never let itself be cut by the chisels of a wood cutter. Only the wood cutter, as St. Augustine said, can foresee with his artistic eye what could come out of the trunk.  Similarly, there are many people who think they can just live as ordinary Christians. They have no perception that they could become saints if they just let themselves be fashioned by the grace of God and, by making resistance to God’s work, would not spoil the design that God should like to realize in them…[9]

It is clear that the principle written by Fr. Bertoni is a summary of all this.  In a Meditation in Primum Regum to the Seminarians, he used it several times and made a moving application of it. We have noticed it already on 29 July 1809 but did not explain it:

We cannot imagine what would God do of us, who are the apple of His eye, if we could not raise obstacles to His Grace, but would instead surrender ourselves always and totally to His hands

For that expression:   apple of His eye Fr. Bertoni quoted Zc 2:8: For he that touches you  (i.e. my priests) touches the apple of My eye …

Let us pray for the intercession of St. Gaspar – and of Mary herself already assumed into heaven – that we might all persevere in our hope in God’s healing Mercy, that we might join them for all eternity celebrating the eternal Thanksgiving in the heavenly sanctuary!

Fr. Joseph Henchey CSS

Acting Spiritual Director

Appendix:

Mary: from Kenosis to Glory – by Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS

 

 

[1] St. Teresa of Avila, Life…  o.c., Ed. Rome 1949, c. 26, n. 2.

[2] Id.  Interior Castle,   Fifth Mansions, c. 2, n. 14.

[3] Id.,  Foundations,   c. 27, nn. 14, 15.

[4] Id.,  Path of Perfection,   c. 12, n. 1.

[5] Id., Letters,   Venice 1739. Letter 38, to Alfonzo Ramirez.

[6] Ic., Interior Castle,   Third Mansions, nn. 2-3.

[7] Id., Life… , o.c.,  c. 19, n. 13.

[8] St. Gaspar Bertoni’s Conferences on St. Gregory Exposition on Primum Regum – Meditation 16 a [## 5457-5508] – 1 Reg3:9-14; Meditation 16 b [## 5509-5554] – 1 Reg 3:15-21.

[9] Bartoli, o.c., Book 4, n. 36 margin.

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY FOR JULY, 2017

Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060

Monday
July 3, 2017
St. Thomas, Apostle

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

“… But Thomas (who was called the Twin) one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him: “We have seen the Lord!’ But, he said to them: ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in His hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails, and my hand in his side, I will not believe!’

… A week later, His disciples were again in the house… Jesus came and stood among them and said: ‘Peace…!’ Then He said to Thomas: “Put your finger here and see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side Do not doubt but believe .”  Thomas answered: ‘My Lord and my God!’…Jesus answered him: ‘…Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe!’… [Jn 20: 24-29].

Earlier, these Apostolic men did not believe the eye-witness account that St. Mary Magdalene had seen the risen Lord – but her testimony was not believed! Once the Church leaders had been converted to Integral Paschal faith and hope, in their turn, St. Thomas would not believe them! May we today think of him on his feast day that he was the first one converted by the stigmata!  Could we not want to be numbered among those followers of the Risen Lord – being on-going converted to an ever deeper, Faith Hope and Love yearning for healing in the Sacred Stigmata of our Lord Jesus Christ [cf. Is 53:5; 1 P 2:24]?

There is no doubt that still in today’s world, human suffering is so rampant.  And with the marvels of modern medicine, many of us are living longer lives than perhaps many if not most of our loved ones who have gone before us. We cannot  help but hear again these words of Scripture: “… Seventy is the sum of our years, or eighty if we are strong… they pass quickly…!” [Ps 90:10].

In our faith, we believe that there is a two-fold content, a two-fold “object” of Divine Revelation: God Himself, and His Plan.  All that happens in life in some way fits into this plan – even the hairs of our head are counted! [Lk 12:7] – no matter how many [or few!] of these may there be.

There are four or five general “reasons” offered to us by divine revelation to help us understand human suffering:

  • punishment for sin;
  • pedagogy: suffering is the ‘school of God’;
  • purification: like silver and gold we are being purified;
  • redemption: in some way, human suffering enters into the Plan of Salvation [ this is explained beautifully by  Pope St. John Paul II, in his Exhortation Salvifici Doloris [Salvific Suffering];
  • Eschatology: we do not have here a lasting home.

Our beloved Founder suffered very much in his nearly 76 years of life. The reflection this month of July is on a biblical reflection on suffering and some thoughts from Fr. Cornelio Fabro, CSS on these many years in the founder’s life – that contributed to, and shaped his entire spirituality. May God grant that we might all receive such a grace!

Sincerely yours in our Merciful High Priest,

Fr. Joseph Henchey CSS
Acting Spiritual Director

 

Appendix I:

The Mystery of Human Suffering – by Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS [2017]

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY FOR JUNE, 2017

Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060

Trinity Sunday
June 11, 2017

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

The Holy Trinity and St. Gaspar Bertoni

This Trinity Sunday tells us much about the charism of St. Gaspar Bertoni. A number of our Stigmatine students of the Founder’s special grace believe that St. Gaspar was much inspired by the Most Blessed Trinity – by the Eucharistand by the integral Paschal Mystery: the Sorrowful Wounds on Good Friday and the Glorious aspect of these Wounds of the Apostolic Mission on Easter night.

There clearly is a “Trinitarian” dimension to Fr. Bertoni’s great dream for the Stigmatines – a group of individuals, who  would strive to live together as a family, and would communicate God’s Word and love in their ministry, as the Father sends out  His Word incarnate in Jesus Christ [The Father so loved the world that  He sent His only son, did not spare Him – cf. Rm 8:32-Jn 3:16] – and the Father and the Son send out their mutual Love – in an eternal Mission of Truth and Love.

St. Gaspar’s Apostolic Mission lived the Mystery of the Eucharist as Offertory [offer your spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ… [cf. 1 P 2:5 – Rm 12:1, ff.: ‘make of your lives an oblation to God’s Mercy…’], Consecration [the Father consecrated Me and sent me into this world… [Jn 10:36] and Holy Communion [The Father and I are one – Jn 10:31].

In previous months, we have shared together some thoughts on St. Gaspar living out the ”Model’  of Christ – the Heavenly “Copy” – striving to imitate the Divine “Exemplar” – the supreme “Paradigm”  – whose mind all are called to put on [cf. Ph 2:5-11].  In this Divine Word, for St. Thomas Aquinas, God has expressed His complete Word in Whom there is revealed full truth. The Holy Spirit has been sent to us all to reveal that which Jesus Christ has taught by his life and message.

Changing now for this month, the metaphor from speaking the word, to listening to the message – St. Gaspar heard [digne, attente, devote] the Divine Word deep in his apostolic missionary heart – and strives in His Apostolic Mission to ECHO this Word of God all his life.  His ideal for the Stigmatines is coined in his phrase: Verbi Dei quodcumque ministerium [cf. # 163]: any ministry of the word of God whatsoever: from the “Apostolate of the Pen” – to “Evangelical Conversation” – to share the message of hope in God’s mercy.

Usually, on June 11th, the Church remembers St. Barnabas – his proper name was Joseph, but he was called Barnabas, as he came as ’the Son of Encouragement’ [cf. Ac 4:36] being full of the Holy Spirit. St. Gaspar’s Message to us all then is:  Lift up your hearts! – By His Wounds, all of ours will be healed [Is 53:5; 1 P 2:34]. Let us listen to this in our hearts!

Respectfully submitted:

Fr. Joseph Henchey CSS
Assistant Spiritual Director

Appendix I:

The Ministry of the Word of God in St. Gaspar Bertoni: an ECHO of St. Ignatius Loyola.

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY FOR JUNE, 2017

Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060

Trinity Sunday
June 11, 2017

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

The Holy Trinity and St. Gaspar Bertoni

This Trinity Sunday tells us much about the charism of St. Gaspar Bertoni. A number of our Stigmatine students of the Founder’s special grace believe that St. Gaspar was much inspired by the Most Blessed Trinity – by the Eucharistand by the integral Paschal Mystery: the Sorrowful Wounds on Good Friday and the Glorious aspect of these Wounds of the Apostolic Mission on Easter night.

There clearly is a “Trinitarian” dimension to Fr. Bertoni’s great dream for the Stigmatines – a group of individuals, who  would strive to live together as a family, and would communicate God’s Word and love in their ministry, as the Father sends out  His Word incarnate in Jesus Christ [The Father so loved the world that  He sent His only son, did not spare Him – cf. Rm 8:32-Jn 3:16] – and the Father and the Son send out their mutual Love – in an eternal Mission of Truth and Love.

St. Gaspar’s Apostolic Mission lived the Mystery of the Eucharist as Offertory [offer your spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ… [cf. 1 P 2:5 – Rm 12:1, ff.: ‘make of your lives an oblation to God’s Mercy…’], Consecration [the Father consecrated Me and sent me into this world… [Jn 10:36] and Holy Communion [The Father and I are one – Jn 10:31].

In previous months, we have shared together some thoughts on St. Gaspar living out the ”Model’  of Christ – the Heavenly “Copy” – striving to imitate the Divine “Exemplar” – the supreme “Paradigm”  – whose mind all are called to put on [cf. Ph 2:5-11].  In this Divine Word, for St. Thomas Aquinas, God has expressed His complete Word in Whom there is revealed full truth. The Holy Spirit has been sent to us all to reveal that which Jesus Christ has taught by his life and message.

Changing now for this month, the metaphor from speaking the word, to listening to the message – St. Gaspar heard [digne, attente, devote] the Divine Word deep in his apostolic missionary heart – and strives in His Apostolic Mission to ECHO this Word of God all his life.  His ideal for the Stigmatines is coined in his phrase: Verbi Dei quodcumque ministerium [cf. # 163]: any ministry of the word of God whatsoever: from the “Apostolate of the Pen” – to “Evangelical Conversation” – to share the message of hope in God’s mercy.

Usually, on June 11th, the Church remembers St. Barnabas – his proper name was Joseph, but he was called Barnabas, as he came as ’the Son of Encouragement’ [cf. Ac 4:36] being full of the Holy Spirit. St. Gaspar’s Message to us all then is:  Lift up your hearts! – By His Wounds, all of ours will be healed [Is 53:5; 1 P 2:34]. Let us listen to this in our hearts!

Respectfully submitted:

Fr. Joseph Henchey CSS
Assistant Spiritual Director

Appendix I:

The Ministry of the Word of God in St. Gaspar Bertoni: an ECHO of St. Ignatius Loyola.

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY FOR MAY, 2017

Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060

Commemoration of St. Catherine of Siena, Doctoress of the Church
April 29, 2017

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member

Image of the Virgin Many highly esteemed by Fr. Bertoni

As the month of April ends and May begins, there are two Dominican Saints commemorated, who have been much honored by the Church: St. Catherine of Siena, Dominican Tertiary – and in early May, the Dominican Pope, St. Pope Pius Vth. St. Catherine served as a counselor Popes – and St. Pius Vth promulgated the Decrees of the Council of Trent – as well as promoted devotion to the Most Holy Rosary. This devotion came to the Church through the ministry of St. Dominic and many early Dominicans.

To commemorate this month of May, we will offer a “birds-eye view” of a Stigmatine Calendar with an insight into some Stigmatine history from 1777-1911 – events that took place in the month of May over the years.

For our spiritual reflection, I am also offering a translation of a study compiled by our late   Stigmatine Confrere, Fr. Cornelio Fabro, CSS, on some of St. Thomas’ insights on Mary [1].   [St. Thomas emphasized the universality of Christ’s redemption of the human race – and the Franciscan, Duns Scotus, clarified the more the terms of the mystery, by teaching that Mary was more loved by God, hence more perfectly redeemed from the contagion of sin: we have all been healed, and the contagion of sin was prevented from ever reaching her by God’s special grace – and the technical word used is “preventively”].  Then, secondly, there will be a brief outline of several of the parish sermons delivered by St. Gaspar, considering the Mother of God. [2]    [It is remarkable that in his spoken word we have very little of his ideas regarding Mary as the Spouse of St. Joseph.  However, our Patronal Feast of the Holy Espousals was simply a devotion lived in the early Stigmatine community.

Fr. Bertoni entrusted his congregation to the patronage of the Holy Spouses, Mary and Joseph

Let us deepen our devotion to the Blessed Mother of God in this month of May – as we ask for the intercession of the Holy Spouses Mary and Joseph, on our own lives, those of our families and of the Church.

May God bless us all, each and every one! – let us ask for the grace of an increased devotion to Mary and Joseph, the Patrons of our Congregation and in a particular way, of our Province here in the USA!

Fraternally yours in our devotions to Mary and Joseph,

Fr. Joseph Henchey CSS
Acting Spiritual Director

[1]  An Aspect of the Mariology of St. Thomas Aquinas – by Fr. Cornelio Fabro, CSS.

[2]  An Aspect of the Mariology of St. Gaspar Bertoni in his Parish Sermons.

Stigmatine Calendar for May

An Aspect of the Mariology of St. Thomas Aquinas – by Rev. Cornelio Fabro, CSS

An Aspect of the Mariology of St. Gaspar Bertoni in his Parish Sermons – by Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS

For translations of this letter [including the calendar for May] into Italian and Portuguese, please see the page of FORMATION on this website.

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY FOR MAY, 2017

Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060

Commemoration of St. Catherine of Siena, Doctoress of the Church
April 29, 2017

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member

Image of the Virgin Many highly esteemed by Fr. Bertoni

As the month of April ends and May begins, there are two Dominican Saints commemorated, who have been much honored by the Church: St. Catherine of Siena, Dominican Tertiary – and in early May, the Dominican Pope, St. Pope Pius Vth. St. Catherine served as a counselor Popes – and St. Pius Vth promulgated the Decrees of the Council of Trent – as well as promoted devotion to the Most Holy Rosary. This devotion came to the Church through the ministry of St. Dominic and many early Dominicans.

To commemorate this month of May, we will offer a “birds-eye view” of a Stigmatine Calendar with an insight into some Stigmatine history from 1777-1911 – events that took place in the month of May over the years.

For our spiritual reflection, I am also offering a translation of a study compiled by our late   Stigmatine Confrere, Fr. Cornelio Fabro, CSS, on some of St. Thomas’ insights on Mary [1].   [St. Thomas emphasized the universality of Christ’s redemption of the human race – and the Franciscan, Duns Scotus, clarified the more the terms of the mystery, by teaching that Mary was more loved by God, hence more perfectly redeemed from the contagion of sin: we have all been healed, and the contagion of sin was prevented from ever reaching her by God’s special grace – and the technical word used is “preventively”].  Then, secondly, there will be a brief outline of several of the parish sermons delivered by St. Gaspar, considering the Mother of God. [2]    [It is remarkable that in his spoken word we have very little of his ideas regarding Mary as the Spouse of St. Joseph.  However, our Patronal Feast of the Holy Espousals was simply a devotion lived in the early Stigmatine community.

Fr. Bertoni entrusted his congregation to the patronage of the Holy Spouses, Mary and Joseph

Let us deepen our devotion to the Blessed Mother of God in this month of May – as we ask for the intercession of the Holy Spouses Mary and Joseph, on our own lives, those of our families and of the Church.

May God bless us all, each and every one! – let us ask for the grace of an increased devotion to Mary and Joseph, the Patrons of our Congregation and in a particular way, of our Province here in the USA!

Fraternally yours in our devotions to Mary and Joseph,

Fr. Joseph Henchey CSS
Acting Spiritual Director

[1]  An Aspect of the Mariology of St. Thomas Aquinas – by Fr. Cornelio Fabro, CSS.

[2]  An Aspect of the Mariology of St. Gaspar Bertoni in his Parish Sermons.

Stigmatine Calendar for May

An Aspect of the Mariology of St. Thomas Aquinas – by Rev. Cornelio Fabro, CSS

An Aspect of the Mariology of St. Gaspar Bertoni in his Parish Sermons – by Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS

For translations of this letter [including the calendar for May] into Italian and Portuguese, please see the page of FORMATION on this website.

2017 STIGMATINE LAITY ANNUAL CONFERENCE – HOLY CROSS PROVINCE, BRAZIL

Province of the Holy Cross – Provincial Headquarters, Retreat & Conference Center and FABER Centers

On March 18 & 19, 2017, there took place, at the Stigmatine Seminary of Philosophy (Chácara do Vovô) in Campinas, SP, the annual province-wide conference of the Stigmatine Laity (FABER)  [1].  The conference was attended by members of the six FABER local centers, i.e.: Marilia, Praia Grande, Ribeirão Preto, Itararé, São Caetano do Sul and Campinas (all in the state of São Paulo).

It was a very important moment in the journey of the Stigmatine laity, in which we evaluated the work carried out by the FABER local centers in the last 12 months, and draw up new guidelines for the next period.

2017 FABER Annual Conference – group picture

About 35 people were gathered, among them all the Provincial Councilors, including Fr. Luciano Romero da Silva, CSS (Vocation Director and Director of the Stigmatine laity) and Brother Marcos Paulo.

In addition to the meetings, we had also out-of-home and leisure moments, such as a visit to the Cathedral of Campinas, a prayer service in front of the tomb of the deceased Stigmatines, a picnic at Lake Taquaral and, at the closing of the first conferences day, a beautiful Italian Night, prepared and offered with great affection by the FABER Campinas.

2017 FABER Annual Conference – group picture at The Italian Feast

The second conference day was begun with the Holy Mass, presided by Fr. Luciano Romero da Silva, CSS, who preached and assured us that hope never disappoints, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us (Rm 5:5).

With this certainty, we were able to make all the decisions, including the schedule for the next province-wide meetings, that follows:

– September 8-10, 2017:  annual retreat, at Santana Retreat House and Conference Center (Fazenda Santana), in Corumbataí, SP;

– November 18, 2017: pilgrimage to Aparecida, SP;

– March 17-18, 2018: annual conferences in Itararé, SP.

At the end of the conference, a Relic of St. Gaspar Bertoni was presented to all of us.  This relic will visit consecutively all the FABER centers, starting in Itararé.

We ask the Lord to strengthen up the spiritual journey of all the Stigmatine Laity, for we can continue walking in the footsteps of our Founding Father St. Gaspar Bertoni, under the light of his Charism.

By Kelci Ribeiro Ferreira dos Santos
Stigmatine Laity Councilor

[1] FABER stands for FAMÍLIA BERTONIANA, the Family of lay Stigmatines in the Province of the Holy Cross, in Brazil.

2017 STIGMATINE LAITY ANNUAL CONFERENCE – HOLY CROSS PROVINCE, BRAZIL

Province of the Holy Cross – Provincial Headquarters, Retreat & Conference Center and FABER Centers

On March 18 & 19, 2017, there took place, at the Stigmatine Seminary of Philosophy (Chácara do Vovô) in Campinas, SP, the annual province-wide conference of the Stigmatine Laity (FABER)  [1].  The conference was attended by members of the six FABER local centers, i.e.: Marilia, Praia Grande, Ribeirão Preto, Itararé, São Caetano do Sul and Campinas (all in the state of São Paulo).

It was a very important moment in the journey of the Stigmatine laity, in which we evaluated the work carried out by the FABER local centers in the last 12 months, and draw up new guidelines for the next period.

2017 FABER Annual Conference – group picture

About 35 people were gathered, among them all the Provincial Councilors, including Fr. Luciano Romero da Silva, CSS (Vocation Director and Director of the Stigmatine laity) and Brother Marcos Paulo.

In addition to the meetings, we had also out-of-home and leisure moments, such as a visit to the Cathedral of Campinas, a prayer service in front of the tomb of the deceased Stigmatines, a picnic at Lake Taquaral and, at the closing of the first conferences day, a beautiful Italian Night, prepared and offered with great affection by the FABER Campinas.

2017 FABER Annual Conference – group picture at The Italian Feast

The second conference day was begun with the Holy Mass, presided by Fr. Luciano Romero da Silva, CSS, who preached and assured us that hope never disappoints, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us (Rm 5:5).

With this certainty, we were able to make all the decisions, including the schedule for the next province-wide meetings, that follows:

– September 8-10, 2017:  annual retreat, at Santana Retreat House and Conference Center (Fazenda Santana), in Corumbataí, SP;

– November 18, 2017: pilgrimage to Aparecida, SP;

– March 17-18, 2018: annual conferences in Itararé, SP.

At the end of the conference, a Relic of St. Gaspar Bertoni was presented to all of us.  This relic will visit consecutively all the FABER centers, starting in Itararé.

We ask the Lord to strengthen up the spiritual journey of all the Stigmatine Laity, for we can continue walking in the footsteps of our Founding Father St. Gaspar Bertoni, under the light of his Charism.

By Kelci Ribeiro Ferreira dos Santos
Stigmatine Laity Councilor

[1] FABER stands for FAMÍLIA BERTONIANA, the Family of lay Stigmatines in the Province of the Holy Cross, in Brazil.

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY – FOR APRIL, 2017

Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
MUNDELEIN IL

MARCH 19,2017
Solemnity of St. Joseph
[Letter for APRIL]

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

Having reached more than the mid-way point in Lent – and with the coming of the new springtime, with its joy-filled celebration of Easter, the Ascension and the Pentecost, the reflection by Fr. Bertoni for this time may be his appeal for totality! This is already included from Old Testament times, in the  wording of the First Commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your minds.”[Dt 6:4; Mt 22:37; Lk 20:27 = CCC # 2083].   One of the great enemies of holiness is mediocrity. We were reminded of this for more than a generation by the Papal Motto and personal example of the late Saint Pope John Paul II: TOTUS TUUS.

Most of us Stigmatines, glad for the existence of the Lay Stigmatines in our lives, find much inspiration in the lived example of the Laity. By their fidelity and reverence, they inspire us by the Faithful Witness.  While perhaps St. Gaspar did not ever expect that there would ever be such a structure as “Stigmatine Laity” I think today he would say that we truly need  such a group:

From his Dec. 2, 1808 entry Spiritual Diary:

[this whole month of December 1808 provides a rich source of spiritual inspiration]:

[80.]       It is most unfortunate and a shame to see so much holiness in the Laity and so much imperfection and vices in a priest.

This is a stimulating reflection for the work of personal progress in holiness.  It reflects at the same time a grace and a disgrace most evident in the times of Fr. Bertoni.  Bishop Innocent Liruti, at the end of his first year as bishop of Verona, had to write a very strong Decree of correction  However, he went on to say that The deplorable life of some who depart from the good example of others, cannot take away the honorable reputation that our Clergy justly possesses. [1]

St. Gaspar Bertoni

When Fr. Bertoni was just 33 years old, he was called by his Bishop to take on an official apostolate among the Clergy[2], in 1810, he will present the same stimulating thought during the Introductory Meditation of the Spiritual Exercises on The End of Man:

Many secular people fulfill this goal better than the Clergy. Their lives are full of good works while ours are full of hot air. Their lives are spiritual, while the lives of many clergy are unfortunately not so …  The Church, in these times, cries bitterly over this disorder which brings down scourges and gives scandal to the people more than ever… If you are already deacons or priests, then weep, weep! With penance wash away these stains. Begin with your own before which, perhaps, “we have sinned without knowing”…  Let us put our lives in order. Let us learn from many secular people how to live properly. “The unlearned come to the fore and snatch the Kingdom of God for themselves” [cf. Lk 16:16).  And we ourselves with all our learning, where shall we go?…[3]

He gave a similar teaching to the Seminarians in Jan. 1811:

… There, in the good example of secular people: in the faithful observance of religion and the perfect charity of many secular people, Divine Providence supplies His chosen ones with a powerful stronghold against the scandal of worldly priests... Therefore, whoever clings to this help, will strive to, make an effort as do the secular people in progressing towards perfection. Such a person has sure signs of a genuine ecclesiastical Vocation… [4]

It goes without saying that Fr. Bertoni preached these things to himself before preaching them to others.

… For Christ I am nailed to the cross… and it is the same cross of Jesus Christ.  In Greek it is more clear: [Christò synestàuromai]  i.e. together with Christ I am nailed to the cross. It is as if I am grafted and planted together with the tree of the Cross of Christ. I possess in communion with the same tree its sap and its life: namely Grace and Charity…  [5]

So, in inviting both to self-denial and to the cross, Fr. Bertoni was sure that as far as the Lord is concerned, He will never fail. On the other hand, he also saw the cooperation of God with so great an amount of Grace that human cooperation – as spontaneous as it can be – did not seem to him much more than a simple acceptance of an invitation. Furthermore, the cross was consequently so much lightened, to be able to say It is not us, but Jesus who, out of love for us,  carries it in the end.

Here is the concluding prayer, which referred to Gal 6,14 and Mt 16,24:

… Lord, we have experienced the tribulations of Your Church, in which we see the enhancement of both Your wonderful providence as her Spouse and the prudent and virtuous behavior of Your Bride. We highly respect Your most wise governance. We pray that You may make Your Spouse to imitate You in following and carrying out what You said: He who wants to follow me let him carry his cross.  Grant that we may carry the cross, not to drag it. That we may carry it so willingly that we boast of it. That we may carry it with so much love that we end up in boasting in nothing else but in it. This cannot happen unless first the world should be crucified to me and myself to the world.  This will never happen until the world becomes a cross to me, as I am to the world, because of the irreconcilable opposition of feelings… [6]

7th DECEMBER 1808:

[83.]       When God calls people to some projects of spiritual life, one has to seize the opportunity of the momentAnd at once they left the nets and followed Him.

We can trace the thought of Fr. Bertoni in a Meditation from DaPonte which is entitled: The Calling and Vocation of the Apostles. The text is from St. Matthew 4:20.  Fr. Bertoni summarized the 4th point as follows: The obedience of the Apostles to God’s vocation was most perfect with regard to:

  1. the intellect 2. the will    3. the execution.

Da Ponte wrote[7]:

… Consider the excellent obedience with which the Apostles answered their calling. In fact… while Peter and Andrew were casting their nets into the sea and Zebedee’s sons were mending their nets in the boats with their father, when Christ called them immediately and at once, they left their nets and their father and everything and followed Him.

…  With this kind of obedience, the apostles showed the three excellent properties of this virtue. The submission of intellect and judgment: making them obey Christ and subjecting them to His orders without making any excuse[8].  The submission of will[9]: subjecting it completely to that of Christ, dispossessing themselves of the love they had for their wives, children, fathers, relatives and their own properties.  The perfect execution: which was – as Saint Chrysostom says – prompt, punctual and cheerful, without delay not even for a moment and without contradiction. Oh, the miracles of God’s power! Oh, what changes can God do!

Fr.  Bertoni often spoke of our Divine Vocation. His teacher here, Fr. DaPonte, has stated that it comes “through the grace of the Holy Spirit, not depending on our merits, and that with it all other necessary goods are given for our salvation…; then it was really the case to exclaim: I fear Jesus passing by! This is seen in the traditional sense, i.e. “Woe to those who let Him pass without following after Him! Woe to those who do not seize the opportunity of the moment!

20th DECEMBER 1808

[87.]             In the spiritual enterprises it is of great advantage when two people find that they can share the same perception.

Fr. Gaetano Giacobbe, Benefactor of the Stigmatine Congregation [[1809- +1898]
Fr. Gaspar found this advantage from the outset with Fr. Matthew Farinati (ordained in 1802) and afterwards also with Fr. Cajetan Allegri (ordained in 1805).  Fr. Giacobbe[10] wrote that … these priests, animated by the zeal and spirit of Fr. Bertoni, formed, as they put it, a threefold cord of admirable harmony among themselves… This principle held not only collaborating in the youth apostolate (to which Fr. Giacobbe seems to refer) but also in common study for their mutual spiritual growth. In addition to many other indications, we have a witness of this in the various extracts of quotations which the three priests drew together from the Life of St. Cajetan of Thiene and above all from Rodriguez’ Exercise of Perfection.

Very revealing are the words which Fr. Farinati wrote on the inside page of the hardcover of that book: There are excellent ideals contained in this booklet!   These words are followed by a quotation from the prophet Ezekiel:  I sought among them for a man that might set up a hedge and stand in the gap before me in favor of the land so that I should not destroy it: but I found none. (Ezk 22:30).  It seems that Fr. Farinati recognized in that prophetic text a common vocation of the three friends to be just that man.  This was what stimulated them – as priests belonging to no Order –  applying to themselves the whole exercise of perfection which was reserved for the Religious. It was also on the strength of the principle which Fr. Bertoni will support strongly, i.e. that what in the Religious is a tension towards Perfection, in the Priest should be acquired perfection.[11]

[88.]             While we feel called to some high degree of Perfection, we should pay attention not to underestimate those who do not want to follow us. They might perhaps be of equal and greater merit in front of God.  We all have the same purpose. Not all use the same means.

This maxim is a development on that of 12 Oct: He who is drawn by the Spirit to a way of greater perfection… should not resent others who are of lower virtue and use lesser means as long as these are good.  We were saying, there, that such is the spirit that filtered through the meditation of The Kingdom of Christ, according to St. Ignatius and Da Ponte. Different people are freely called to militate under the banner of Christ. It is clear that each person must imitate Him in the condition to which each has been called,  for himself following those different invitations.

Fr. Bertoni intended to keep the commandment which regards our neighbor: Do not judge… and to preserve one’s own meekness and humility of heart.  We can see an encouragement in reminding ourselves that merit does not depend on the greater or lesser excellence of a vocation. This is God’s gift. It depends rather on the greater or lesser correspondence to such a gift.  It could, therefore, happen that somebody with a lesser gift of God would correspond to it with greater perfection than others with a greater gift.

As for the variety of ways and means to reach the same Ultimate End, this is but a logical consequence of the variety of the same vocations.

[89.]         – It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you (John 15:16). We have to pay much attention not to set ourselves against the Lord with our sins and lack of mortification.

The text from St. John’s Gospel could have been applied also to the preceding entry. But Fr.  Bertoni wrote it with a dash separating it from the previous note. He admonishes the each one – i.e. no one other than himself – not to put obstacles against the action of God with sins and the lack of mortification.  He saw also here the connection between two undertakings: that of his personal sanctification (cf. 12 Oct) and that of the promotion of the greater glory of God through a life dedicated to the Apostolate (cf. 15 Sept). We could have expected a hint at the Ignatian principle which is at the base of everything, as we have said in the note of 12 Oct: very few are those who… And also the encouraging sentences of 2 and 3 Dec.: Take care that we do not fail the Lord, because He will surely not fail us. The Lord just shows us the cross…

†††

St. Paul tells us that we are all Temples of the Most High, of the Holy Spirit – still under construction – being built up by one another. As the Pierced Side of Christ provided  an opening into the sanctuary of the Trinity –and invites us all into the celebration of the Eternal Celebration of thanksgiving by the Merciful High Priest forever in the Celestial sanctuary – let us all look into our own personal  efforts to live this Lent, and to witness to the living of the Charism, unique otherworldliness of St. Gaspar Bertoni.  By God’s infinite mercy, this is a gift for us all. Let us seek to inspire one another on how we strive to follow the lord, through the daily picking up our Cross through life.

Respectfully submitted:

Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director

[p.s. In my letter for last month, I mistakenly quoted the date of the death of Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, op – he died on February 15, 1964].

[1] Bishop’s Letter, Septuagesima 1809, in: Raccolta di Lettere Pastorali.   Verona 1817.

[2] With this apostolate, Fr. Bertoni indeed merits the title: Apostolic Missionary to the Clergy.

[3] Collectanea Stigmatina,   Vol. I, pp. 119, 120.

[4] Meditation 11 on Primum Regum January 1, 1811 – MssB ## 5182-5939.

[5] Panegyric I, Point 2: MssB ## 1795-1842.

[6] 5th  Meditation on Primum Regum. December 9, 1810.  MssB  ##  4963. [All students of St. Gaspar remember his beautiful insight in considering the Church as ‘a Model of Holy Abandonment’ [cf. Epistolario Letter 38,  October 26, 1813. p. 99.

[7] Meditation 6.

[8] St. Gaspar puts this among his Grades of Obedience in his Original Constitutions –  CF # 144.

[9] Noted in St. Gaspar’s Original Constitutions –  CF # 141. The qualities Fr. Bertoni notes here, based on St. Ignatius, are:  integra, prompta, fortis, humilis.

[10] Summarium Additionale,  Document 26, p. 342.

[11] cf. his Retreat to the Clergy, in 1810, in:  Collectanea Stigmatina,  Vol. 3,  p. 129, ‘The Purpose [End] of the Priest’.

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY – FOR APRIL, 2017

Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
MUNDELEIN IL

MARCH 19,2017
Solemnity of St. Joseph
[Letter for APRIL]

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

Having reached more than the mid-way point in Lent – and with the coming of the new springtime, with its joy-filled celebration of Easter, the Ascension and the Pentecost, the reflection by Fr. Bertoni for this time may be his appeal for totality! This is already included from Old Testament times, in the  wording of the First Commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your minds.”[Dt 6:4; Mt 22:37; Lk 20:27 = CCC # 2083].   One of the great enemies of holiness is mediocrity. We were reminded of this for more than a generation by the Papal Motto and personal example of the late Saint Pope John Paul II: TOTUS TUUS.

Most of us Stigmatines, glad for the existence of the Lay Stigmatines in our lives, find much inspiration in the lived example of the Laity. By their fidelity and reverence, they inspire us by the Faithful Witness.  While perhaps St. Gaspar did not ever expect that there would ever be such a structure as “Stigmatine Laity” I think today he would say that we truly need  such a group:

From his Dec. 2, 1808 entry Spiritual Diary:

[this whole month of December 1808 provides a rich source of spiritual inspiration]:

[80.]       It is most unfortunate and a shame to see so much holiness in the Laity and so much imperfection and vices in a priest.

This is a stimulating reflection for the work of personal progress in holiness.  It reflects at the same time a grace and a disgrace most evident in the times of Fr. Bertoni.  Bishop Innocent Liruti, at the end of his first year as bishop of Verona, had to write a very strong Decree of correction  However, he went on to say that The deplorable life of some who depart from the good example of others, cannot take away the honorable reputation that our Clergy justly possesses. [1]

St. Gaspar Bertoni

When Fr. Bertoni was just 33 years old, he was called by his Bishop to take on an official apostolate among the Clergy[2], in 1810, he will present the same stimulating thought during the Introductory Meditation of the Spiritual Exercises on The End of Man:

Many secular people fulfill this goal better than the Clergy. Their lives are full of good works while ours are full of hot air. Their lives are spiritual, while the lives of many clergy are unfortunately not so …  The Church, in these times, cries bitterly over this disorder which brings down scourges and gives scandal to the people more than ever… If you are already deacons or priests, then weep, weep! With penance wash away these stains. Begin with your own before which, perhaps, “we have sinned without knowing”…  Let us put our lives in order. Let us learn from many secular people how to live properly. “The unlearned come to the fore and snatch the Kingdom of God for themselves” [cf. Lk 16:16).  And we ourselves with all our learning, where shall we go?…[3]

He gave a similar teaching to the Seminarians in Jan. 1811:

… There, in the good example of secular people: in the faithful observance of religion and the perfect charity of many secular people, Divine Providence supplies His chosen ones with a powerful stronghold against the scandal of worldly priests... Therefore, whoever clings to this help, will strive to, make an effort as do the secular people in progressing towards perfection. Such a person has sure signs of a genuine ecclesiastical Vocation… [4]

It goes without saying that Fr. Bertoni preached these things to himself before preaching them to others.

… For Christ I am nailed to the cross… and it is the same cross of Jesus Christ.  In Greek it is more clear: [Christò synestàuromai]  i.e. together with Christ I am nailed to the cross. It is as if I am grafted and planted together with the tree of the Cross of Christ. I possess in communion with the same tree its sap and its life: namely Grace and Charity…  [5]

So, in inviting both to self-denial and to the cross, Fr. Bertoni was sure that as far as the Lord is concerned, He will never fail. On the other hand, he also saw the cooperation of God with so great an amount of Grace that human cooperation – as spontaneous as it can be – did not seem to him much more than a simple acceptance of an invitation. Furthermore, the cross was consequently so much lightened, to be able to say It is not us, but Jesus who, out of love for us,  carries it in the end.

Here is the concluding prayer, which referred to Gal 6,14 and Mt 16,24:

… Lord, we have experienced the tribulations of Your Church, in which we see the enhancement of both Your wonderful providence as her Spouse and the prudent and virtuous behavior of Your Bride. We highly respect Your most wise governance. We pray that You may make Your Spouse to imitate You in following and carrying out what You said: He who wants to follow me let him carry his cross.  Grant that we may carry the cross, not to drag it. That we may carry it so willingly that we boast of it. That we may carry it with so much love that we end up in boasting in nothing else but in it. This cannot happen unless first the world should be crucified to me and myself to the world.  This will never happen until the world becomes a cross to me, as I am to the world, because of the irreconcilable opposition of feelings… [6]

7th DECEMBER 1808:

[83.]       When God calls people to some projects of spiritual life, one has to seize the opportunity of the momentAnd at once they left the nets and followed Him.

We can trace the thought of Fr. Bertoni in a Meditation from DaPonte which is entitled: The Calling and Vocation of the Apostles. The text is from St. Matthew 4:20.  Fr. Bertoni summarized the 4th point as follows: The obedience of the Apostles to God’s vocation was most perfect with regard to:

  1. the intellect 2. the will    3. the execution.

Da Ponte wrote[7]:

… Consider the excellent obedience with which the Apostles answered their calling. In fact… while Peter and Andrew were casting their nets into the sea and Zebedee’s sons were mending their nets in the boats with their father, when Christ called them immediately and at once, they left their nets and their father and everything and followed Him.

…  With this kind of obedience, the apostles showed the three excellent properties of this virtue. The submission of intellect and judgment: making them obey Christ and subjecting them to His orders without making any excuse[8].  The submission of will[9]: subjecting it completely to that of Christ, dispossessing themselves of the love they had for their wives, children, fathers, relatives and their own properties.  The perfect execution: which was – as Saint Chrysostom says – prompt, punctual and cheerful, without delay not even for a moment and without contradiction. Oh, the miracles of God’s power! Oh, what changes can God do!

Fr.  Bertoni often spoke of our Divine Vocation. His teacher here, Fr. DaPonte, has stated that it comes “through the grace of the Holy Spirit, not depending on our merits, and that with it all other necessary goods are given for our salvation…; then it was really the case to exclaim: I fear Jesus passing by! This is seen in the traditional sense, i.e. “Woe to those who let Him pass without following after Him! Woe to those who do not seize the opportunity of the moment!

20th DECEMBER 1808

[87.]             In the spiritual enterprises it is of great advantage when two people find that they can share the same perception.

Fr. Gaetano Giacobbe, Benefactor of the Stigmatine Congregation [[1809- +1898]
Fr. Gaspar found this advantage from the outset with Fr. Matthew Farinati (ordained in 1802) and afterwards also with Fr. Cajetan Allegri (ordained in 1805).  Fr. Giacobbe[10] wrote that … these priests, animated by the zeal and spirit of Fr. Bertoni, formed, as they put it, a threefold cord of admirable harmony among themselves… This principle held not only collaborating in the youth apostolate (to which Fr. Giacobbe seems to refer) but also in common study for their mutual spiritual growth. In addition to many other indications, we have a witness of this in the various extracts of quotations which the three priests drew together from the Life of St. Cajetan of Thiene and above all from Rodriguez’ Exercise of Perfection.

Very revealing are the words which Fr. Farinati wrote on the inside page of the hardcover of that book: There are excellent ideals contained in this booklet!   These words are followed by a quotation from the prophet Ezekiel:  I sought among them for a man that might set up a hedge and stand in the gap before me in favor of the land so that I should not destroy it: but I found none. (Ezk 22:30).  It seems that Fr. Farinati recognized in that prophetic text a common vocation of the three friends to be just that man.  This was what stimulated them – as priests belonging to no Order –  applying to themselves the whole exercise of perfection which was reserved for the Religious. It was also on the strength of the principle which Fr. Bertoni will support strongly, i.e. that what in the Religious is a tension towards Perfection, in the Priest should be acquired perfection.[11]

[88.]             While we feel called to some high degree of Perfection, we should pay attention not to underestimate those who do not want to follow us. They might perhaps be of equal and greater merit in front of God.  We all have the same purpose. Not all use the same means.

This maxim is a development on that of 12 Oct: He who is drawn by the Spirit to a way of greater perfection… should not resent others who are of lower virtue and use lesser means as long as these are good.  We were saying, there, that such is the spirit that filtered through the meditation of The Kingdom of Christ, according to St. Ignatius and Da Ponte. Different people are freely called to militate under the banner of Christ. It is clear that each person must imitate Him in the condition to which each has been called,  for himself following those different invitations.

Fr. Bertoni intended to keep the commandment which regards our neighbor: Do not judge… and to preserve one’s own meekness and humility of heart.  We can see an encouragement in reminding ourselves that merit does not depend on the greater or lesser excellence of a vocation. This is God’s gift. It depends rather on the greater or lesser correspondence to such a gift.  It could, therefore, happen that somebody with a lesser gift of God would correspond to it with greater perfection than others with a greater gift.

As for the variety of ways and means to reach the same Ultimate End, this is but a logical consequence of the variety of the same vocations.

[89.]         – It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you (John 15:16). We have to pay much attention not to set ourselves against the Lord with our sins and lack of mortification.

The text from St. John’s Gospel could have been applied also to the preceding entry. But Fr.  Bertoni wrote it with a dash separating it from the previous note. He admonishes the each one – i.e. no one other than himself – not to put obstacles against the action of God with sins and the lack of mortification.  He saw also here the connection between two undertakings: that of his personal sanctification (cf. 12 Oct) and that of the promotion of the greater glory of God through a life dedicated to the Apostolate (cf. 15 Sept). We could have expected a hint at the Ignatian principle which is at the base of everything, as we have said in the note of 12 Oct: very few are those who… And also the encouraging sentences of 2 and 3 Dec.: Take care that we do not fail the Lord, because He will surely not fail us. The Lord just shows us the cross…

†††

St. Paul tells us that we are all Temples of the Most High, of the Holy Spirit – still under construction – being built up by one another. As the Pierced Side of Christ provided  an opening into the sanctuary of the Trinity –and invites us all into the celebration of the Eternal Celebration of thanksgiving by the Merciful High Priest forever in the Celestial sanctuary – let us all look into our own personal  efforts to live this Lent, and to witness to the living of the Charism, unique otherworldliness of St. Gaspar Bertoni.  By God’s infinite mercy, this is a gift for us all. Let us seek to inspire one another on how we strive to follow the lord, through the daily picking up our Cross through life.

Respectfully submitted:

Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director

[p.s. In my letter for last month, I mistakenly quoted the date of the death of Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, op – he died on February 15, 1964].

[1] Bishop’s Letter, Septuagesima 1809, in: Raccolta di Lettere Pastorali.   Verona 1817.

[2] With this apostolate, Fr. Bertoni indeed merits the title: Apostolic Missionary to the Clergy.

[3] Collectanea Stigmatina,   Vol. I, pp. 119, 120.

[4] Meditation 11 on Primum Regum January 1, 1811 – MssB ## 5182-5939.

[5] Panegyric I, Point 2: MssB ## 1795-1842.

[6] 5th  Meditation on Primum Regum. December 9, 1810.  MssB  ##  4963. [All students of St. Gaspar remember his beautiful insight in considering the Church as ‘a Model of Holy Abandonment’ [cf. Epistolario Letter 38,  October 26, 1813. p. 99.

[7] Meditation 6.

[8] St. Gaspar puts this among his Grades of Obedience in his Original Constitutions –  CF # 144.

[9] Noted in St. Gaspar’s Original Constitutions –  CF # 141. The qualities Fr. Bertoni notes here, based on St. Ignatius, are:  integra, prompta, fortis, humilis.

[10] Summarium Additionale,  Document 26, p. 342.

[11] cf. his Retreat to the Clergy, in 1810, in:  Collectanea Stigmatina,  Vol. 3,  p. 129, ‘The Purpose [End] of the Priest’.