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LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY – FOR MARCH, 2017

Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
MUNDELEIN IL   60060

February 24.2017
For the Month of March- devoted to St. Joseph

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the USA [May 29, 1917- +Nov. 22, 1963]
On this date, in 1964 – just three months after the assassination of President John Kennedy, Fr. Reginald Garrigou–Lagrange, O.P. died at Santa Sabina Monastery in Rome [the general headquarters of the international Dominican Order]. For the first half of the 20th century, ‘Fr. Garrigou’ was a major contributor to Catholic Theology, one of international repute. To this day, he is perhaps best remembered for his work in Spiritual Theology – and his master- piece, “The Three Ages of the Spiritual Life”. In recent years, many of these voluminous contributions to theology are being re-printed.  He taught at the ANGELICUM in Rome for well over a half a century – and taught a number of our American Stigmatine Professed Students near the end of his long career, in the years 1952-1958. Among his major contributions of the Church is the fact that he also served as the doctoral thesis tutor of a young priest from Poland – Fr. Wojtyla – who later became St. Pope John Paul IInd.[1]

In our small Stigmatine world he also directed the thesis of our late

Fr. Nello Dalle Vedove, CSS, in his fine theological study on the spirituality of St. Gaspar Bertoni.  Fr. Nello’s fine work was entitled: “Gaspar Bertoni, A Servant of God”:  A Model of Holy Abandonment”.  This fine theological thesis proves that the now canonized Fr. Bertoni lived a life of a heroically  strengthened theological hope in the living of Thy Will be done  of the Lord’s Prayer` – throughout the long and very challenging  physical and spiritual sufferings he had to endure for most of his 76 years on this earth. This fascinating study is still highly readable for anyone interested in a much deeper appreciation and   reflection on St. Gaspar’s life and authentic spirit.

Fr. Réginald Marie Garrigou-Lagrange, OP, French Catholic Theologian [Feb. 21, 1877- +Feb. 15, 1964]
It is interesting to note that still today, there is interest in the re-printing of Fr. Garrigou’s theological works – perhaps originally complied in the 1930’s. In his tract on Divine Providence, Fr. Garrigou refers to St. Joseph as a Model of Hope in the constellation of the Saints of the Church. In the theologian’s work on Christ [and His Incarnation and in His Redemption of the world], also recently re-printed – there is a final Compendium on Mariology with a few fine pages dedicated to St. Joseph.

Fr. Garrigou teaches [cf. Christ, Aeterna Press Nov. 2016, pp. 567, ff.]:  “…there intervened between St. Joseph and the most Blessed Virgin Mary a marital bond… there is no doubt that to the most distinguished dignity whereby the Mother of God very far surpasses all creatures, it came about that nobody is greater than St. Joseph… God gave Joseph as Spouse to the Virgin… Patron of the Dying, protector of the holy Church.  St. Joseph then, was predestined for an exceptional mission, as Spouse of the Mother of God, and foster-father of the Son of God. The Guardian of the Redeemer received a sanctity in proportion to his mission, and this sanctity increased until the very end of his life. St. Joseph was predestined to the protection of the Son of God incarnate and of His Mother… St.  Joseph was considered by Fr. Garrigou as a “Model of Holy Abandonment [Hope].

St. Pope John Paul II, born Karol Jozéf Vojtyla, in Poland [May 18, 1920- +April 2, 2005]
In the light of all the above, it is interesting to note that one of the finest “Apostolic Exhortations” on St. Joseph was presented during the long Pontificate of St. John Paul II: on August 15, 1989 the Apostolic Constitution Guardian of the Redeemer [Redemptoris Custos] was promulgated.  A recommendation I might personally offer is that all read this work Redemptoris Custos, in a very prayerful, meditative spirit during the month of March, in observance of the coming Lent. It is a wonderful contemplation on the Pope’s oblation of faith, and the commitment of life, as Totus Tuus – St. John Paul IInd’s papal motto. The document provides a powerful meditation on the Mystery of the Holy Espousals.

Our late and distinguished confrere, Fr. Cornelio Fabro, CSS – offers some profound philosophical and theological insights into the term “Model” and its synonyms and parallels – as an ideal that offers us much for our own lives of faith.

In Thomistic circles – cf. in this regard: Roy J. Deferrari[2] and his voluminous Lexicon of St Thomas Aquinas[3], which treats of the exemplar/exemplary in several ways, as follows:

  • as a Noun: it means COPY; IMAGE; PATTERN; MODEL; EXAMPLE; PARADIGM; STANDARD, etc. Thus St. Thomas presents Jesus Christ As the Example for believers [III, q. 15; a. 1; 21, a. 3]. St. Thomas notes that when we try to explain in the mysteries of Faith, most helpful to be understood, we propose better known “examples” [I-II, q. 19, a. 10 c] – for our moral lives as well: Put on the mind of Christ Jesus.
  • the term used as a CAUSE and as an adjective: this presents a form to be imitated, but one that assists us (as a Cause) in the undertakin This is an ideal that needs to be imitated, lived, in that God is also the First Exemplary Cause of all [I, q. 44, a. 3]. We are all made in His image and likeness. Furthermore, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the Exemplary Cause of our own [cf. III, q. 56, a. 1 ad 3um].

For a prayerful reflection on St. Gaspar for the month of March this year, with the help from the works of our late confrere, Fr. Cornelio Fabro, CSS – I have presented some thoughts on this wonderful Christian ideal – in the hope that each one of us might make a further application of the Stigmatine Founder’s life on our own. For this, let us pray to our Holy Patrons, the Holy Spouses Mary and Joseph, to intercede for us all for a blessed Lent.

God love you all!

Sincerely yours in St. Gaspar!

Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director

Appendix:

Jesus Christ, Icon of the Invisible God. St. Gaspar Bertoni, Model of Holy Abandonment.

 

 

[1]  Fr. Vojtyla [who is nowadays St. Pope John Paul IInd] was Fr. Garrigou’s doctoral directee for his very apropos thesis on the darkness: “The Question of Faith according to St. John of the Cross”.

[2]  By the way, our former neighbor on Quincy Street in NE Washington D.C..

[3]  Loretto Publications: NH 2004.

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY – FOR MARCH, 2017

Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
MUNDELEIN IL   60060

February 24.2017
For the Month of March- devoted to St. Joseph

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the USA [May 29, 1917- +Nov. 22, 1963]
On this date, in 1964 – just three months after the assassination of President John Kennedy, Fr. Reginald Garrigou–Lagrange, O.P. died at Santa Sabina Monastery in Rome [the general headquarters of the international Dominican Order]. For the first half of the 20th century, ‘Fr. Garrigou’ was a major contributor to Catholic Theology, one of international repute. To this day, he is perhaps best remembered for his work in Spiritual Theology – and his master- piece, “The Three Ages of the Spiritual Life”. In recent years, many of these voluminous contributions to theology are being re-printed.  He taught at the ANGELICUM in Rome for well over a half a century – and taught a number of our American Stigmatine Professed Students near the end of his long career, in the years 1952-1958. Among his major contributions of the Church is the fact that he also served as the doctoral thesis tutor of a young priest from Poland – Fr. Wojtyla – who later became St. Pope John Paul IInd.[1]

In our small Stigmatine world he also directed the thesis of our late

Fr. Nello Dalle Vedove, CSS, in his fine theological study on the spirituality of St. Gaspar Bertoni.  Fr. Nello’s fine work was entitled: “Gaspar Bertoni, A Servant of God”:  A Model of Holy Abandonment”.  This fine theological thesis proves that the now canonized Fr. Bertoni lived a life of a heroically  strengthened theological hope in the living of Thy Will be done  of the Lord’s Prayer` – throughout the long and very challenging  physical and spiritual sufferings he had to endure for most of his 76 years on this earth. This fascinating study is still highly readable for anyone interested in a much deeper appreciation and   reflection on St. Gaspar’s life and authentic spirit.

Fr. Réginald Marie Garrigou-Lagrange, OP, French Catholic Theologian [Feb. 21, 1877- +Feb. 15, 1964]
It is interesting to note that still today, there is interest in the re-printing of Fr. Garrigou’s theological works – perhaps originally complied in the 1930’s. In his tract on Divine Providence, Fr. Garrigou refers to St. Joseph as a Model of Hope in the constellation of the Saints of the Church. In the theologian’s work on Christ [and His Incarnation and in His Redemption of the world], also recently re-printed – there is a final Compendium on Mariology with a few fine pages dedicated to St. Joseph.

Fr. Garrigou teaches [cf. Christ, Aeterna Press Nov. 2016, pp. 567, ff.]:  “…there intervened between St. Joseph and the most Blessed Virgin Mary a marital bond… there is no doubt that to the most distinguished dignity whereby the Mother of God very far surpasses all creatures, it came about that nobody is greater than St. Joseph… God gave Joseph as Spouse to the Virgin… Patron of the Dying, protector of the holy Church.  St. Joseph then, was predestined for an exceptional mission, as Spouse of the Mother of God, and foster-father of the Son of God. The Guardian of the Redeemer received a sanctity in proportion to his mission, and this sanctity increased until the very end of his life. St. Joseph was predestined to the protection of the Son of God incarnate and of His Mother… St.  Joseph was considered by Fr. Garrigou as a “Model of Holy Abandonment [Hope].

St. Pope John Paul II, born Karol Jozéf Vojtyla, in Poland [May 18, 1920- +April 2, 2005]
In the light of all the above, it is interesting to note that one of the finest “Apostolic Exhortations” on St. Joseph was presented during the long Pontificate of St. John Paul II: on August 15, 1989 the Apostolic Constitution Guardian of the Redeemer [Redemptoris Custos] was promulgated.  A recommendation I might personally offer is that all read this work Redemptoris Custos, in a very prayerful, meditative spirit during the month of March, in observance of the coming Lent. It is a wonderful contemplation on the Pope’s oblation of faith, and the commitment of life, as Totus Tuus – St. John Paul IInd’s papal motto. The document provides a powerful meditation on the Mystery of the Holy Espousals.

Our late and distinguished confrere, Fr. Cornelio Fabro, CSS – offers some profound philosophical and theological insights into the term “Model” and its synonyms and parallels – as an ideal that offers us much for our own lives of faith.

In Thomistic circles – cf. in this regard: Roy J. Deferrari[2] and his voluminous Lexicon of St Thomas Aquinas[3], which treats of the exemplar/exemplary in several ways, as follows:

  • as a Noun: it means COPY; IMAGE; PATTERN; MODEL; EXAMPLE; PARADIGM; STANDARD, etc. Thus St. Thomas presents Jesus Christ As the Example for believers [III, q. 15; a. 1; 21, a. 3]. St. Thomas notes that when we try to explain in the mysteries of Faith, most helpful to be understood, we propose better known “examples” [I-II, q. 19, a. 10 c] – for our moral lives as well: Put on the mind of Christ Jesus.
  • the term used as a CAUSE and as an adjective: this presents a form to be imitated, but one that assists us (as a Cause) in the undertakin This is an ideal that needs to be imitated, lived, in that God is also the First Exemplary Cause of all [I, q. 44, a. 3]. We are all made in His image and likeness. Furthermore, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the Exemplary Cause of our own [cf. III, q. 56, a. 1 ad 3um].

For a prayerful reflection on St. Gaspar for the month of March this year, with the help from the works of our late confrere, Fr. Cornelio Fabro, CSS – I have presented some thoughts on this wonderful Christian ideal – in the hope that each one of us might make a further application of the Stigmatine Founder’s life on our own. For this, let us pray to our Holy Patrons, the Holy Spouses Mary and Joseph, to intercede for us all for a blessed Lent.

God love you all!

Sincerely yours in St. Gaspar!

Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director

Appendix:

Jesus Christ, Icon of the Invisible God. St. Gaspar Bertoni, Model of Holy Abandonment.

 

 

[1]  Fr. Vojtyla [who is nowadays St. Pope John Paul IInd] was Fr. Garrigou’s doctoral directee for his very apropos thesis on the darkness: “The Question of Faith according to St. John of the Cross”.

[2]  By the way, our former neighbor on Quincy Street in NE Washington D.C..

[3]  Loretto Publications: NH 2004.

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY – FOR FEBRUARY, 2017

Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060

January 22, 2017
Eve of our Patronal Feastof the Holy Spouses

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

A Baseball Pitcher

In the month that will soon open, we find ourselves in the midst of winter – yearning for the spring.  Soon we will hear the clarion call for baseball teams: Pitchers and Catchers are called to Spring Training early in February! This is an early call to an anticipated spring.  We look ahead to Lent, followed by the new spring time and the resurrection.

A Baseball Catcher

For the month of February, I offer, on Appendix I, these reflections to the Stigmatine Laity: pondering on the month of February through our history from the “Stigmatine Calendar” and our call to detachment and to trust in the God of the blessings more than to the Blessings of God!

For this month of February, I submit, on Appendix II, an English translation of a recent serious theological study on Christ, as Spouse [of the soul; of the Church].

May the God of Mercy bless us all in our efforts to serve the Church, Spouse of Christ – to be more dedicated to the Nuptial Banquet of the Eucharist – to look forward to the eternal Easter Nuptial banquet of everlasting life!

Respectfully yours in St. Gaspar!

Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director

Appendix I:

A Stigmatine Calendar [an excerpt] – Preface and the month of February

Appendix II:

The Lord Jesus Christ: Spouse of the Church and the Soul [Christology and Contemplation] – by Vincenzo Bataglia.  English translation by Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY – FOR FEBRUARY, 2017

Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060

January 22, 2017
Eve of our Patronal Feastof the Holy Spouses

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

A Baseball Pitcher

In the month that will soon open, we find ourselves in the midst of winter – yearning for the spring.  Soon we will hear the clarion call for baseball teams: Pitchers and Catchers are called to Spring Training early in February! This is an early call to an anticipated spring.  We look ahead to Lent, followed by the new spring time and the resurrection.

A Baseball Catcher

For the month of February, I offer, on Appendix I, these reflections to the Stigmatine Laity: pondering on the month of February through our history from the “Stigmatine Calendar” and our call to detachment and to trust in the God of the blessings more than to the Blessings of God!

For this month of February, I submit, on Appendix II, an English translation of a recent serious theological study on Christ, as Spouse [of the soul; of the Church].

May the God of Mercy bless us all in our efforts to serve the Church, Spouse of Christ – to be more dedicated to the Nuptial Banquet of the Eucharist – to look forward to the eternal Easter Nuptial banquet of everlasting life!

Respectfully yours in St. Gaspar!

Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director

Appendix I:

A Stigmatine Calendar [an excerpt] – Preface and the month of February

Appendix II:

The Lord Jesus Christ: Spouse of the Church and the Soul [Christology and Contemplation] – by Vincenzo Bataglia.  English translation by Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY – FOR JANUARY, 2017

Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL  60060

December 26, 2016
St. Stephen – 1st Martyr

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

Here, the day after Christmas, the Church reminds us of the first Martyr, St Stephen. As our second centenary as Stigmatines fades into happy memory, we look forward to this beginning the third centenary – and early in January, we have the celebration of the Epiphany of the Lord. Like the Magi of old, we are called to follow the star: to follow God’s word.  St. Thomas Aquinas and the Mystics refer to faith compared to a candle in a dark place – and, in faith, we pray that perpetual light may shine for all eternity, when we are brought home to God, by following the star of God’s word, and the teaching of the Church.

As St. Stephen was giving his missionary life up to the Lord, the Scriptures tell us that as the Saint was being martyred, being filled with the Holy Spirit,  and saw the heavens opened [cf. Ac 7: 54-60]. This is the goal of our pleasing the Lord by one day entering heaven, persevering in faith all through life, by following the bright star of His word in a darkened world.

To teach us along our way, the Church offers us a wide variety of ‘Models” of Redemption – this meeting of God’s Infinite Divine Mercy with our abysmal human misery.  Some of these are:

  • Agriculture [vine and branches; seed of God’s word];
  • Economics [Debt; Purchase price];
  • Medical [healing, Eucharist as Pharmacum: Antidote]; Liturgy [Sacrifice, Communion, Holocaust];
  • Juridical [Tribunal; Judgment; Advocate];
  • Military [Spiritual Combat; sword of God’s Word; helmet of salvation]; Family [God as Father; Spouse; Infancy].

Over the marvelous discoveries of the past 225 years, some might at Astronomy – with the discovery of a bit more of the immense treasures of the created universes.

Astronomy can teach the open mind about the size of the planets, and stars – the distances – their speed – and the power of their gravity and the magnetic fields in this millennia-old “tug of war’ going on in the skies above.  A modern theologian, the late Has Urs von Balthasar, developed the idea of a Christological Constellation – all the saints of the New Testament and of all time gyrate around the  Central Power of God’s Mercy, drawing us ever onward and upward and upwards. Spiritually, the infinite Mercy of God has reversed the natural Law of gravity – he used the metaphor of a “Christological constellation” – reversing the natural process of falling down, but his mercy Lifts us up – and we pray in each Mass, Lift up your hearts!

St. Gaspar Bertoni spoke of being drawn on ward by the power of the Lord: in his very first letter, of Nov. 12, 1812, he writes about his dream of a community. He reminds us that when Peter heard that correction when he seemed to be sinking into the deep waters, the Lord said to him:  “Ye of little faith! Why do you doubt?”  [Mt 14, 31]. The Lord Jesus was very near to the struggling Peter at this time, and was approaching him over the storm waters, drawing him by His own right hand. His prayer was at that time as the Spouse in the Song of Songs: Draw me after you! [Ct 1:23] [cf. Epistolario, pp. 23, f.].  Again St. Gaspar reminds us in his 149th letter [cf. o.c., p. 236] – the Lord takes hold of our weakness, and draws it to Himself and shares His own good odor with us. He further noted that good prayers of dear people for us further enable us to draw the carriage of our burdens in the service of the Lord [cf. o.c. p. 286].

This same ideal is presented to us in the resurrection of the Spouse of the Church. We read in John 12:32 that when He is raised up, He will draw all to Himself.  Fr. Bertoni’s own spirituality seems to manifest a kind of Eucharistic Constellation, as his own Spiritual Diary indicates this way:

AN INTRODUCTION FOR THE YEAR 1812

Fr. Bertoni continued with great determination his apostolate and his penances until October, the month during which a very severe illness struck him.  He was hardly recovering from that illness, when Bishop Innocence Liruti gave him more ministries to accomplish in the Seminary.  He had to suspend the assistance to the Canossa “Retreat”, except for the Direction of its Superior, Mother Leopoldina Naudet.

Before presenting an outstanding “gift of Prayer” which Fr. Bertoni received on 30 May 1812 (during the Octave of Corpus Christi), we should like to give an extract from Leopoldina’s Diary. It deals with an experience of ecstasy which she tried to resist, during the Mass of Holy Thursday which on that year fell on 26 March:

“… While thinking of the Institution of the Blessed Sacrament I was taken in spirit to the place of the Last Supper. In the contemplation of what was going on there, I felt being very pleasantly but strongly drawn out of myself. I abandoned myself and surrendered to the power and pleasantness of that pulling force. When I realized that my body was also going to be involved and it started to lose its sensitivity, my natural reaction forced me to become distracted.   I did that, however, with some hesitation. I knew that I was told not to do like that and to trust in God. Notwithstanding that I gave myself an excuse thinking that what I was experiencing could be a physical weakness. I continued to distract myself in order to have control over my feelings and to remain self-conscious… “

Fr. Bertoni had previously advised her with a statement so characteristic of him: Do not resist God. Trust in God!  What would have happened on that Maundy Thursday if Leopoldina would not have resisted the attractions of God, seems that her Spiritual Director experienced himself a couple of months later on 30 May 1812.

†††

30th MAY 1812

[171.]      While in prayer before Mass I was taken over by some drowsiness and I heard from the Crucifix these words addressed to my heart: Look at this Heart of mine!  Those words immediately brightened my mind with light and my heart felt suddenly a great fervor. Then it was as if my spirit rose up to see the lovable object which was indicated. I felt a shivering throughout my whole body.  I found I had my eyes and mouth closed but my soul was wide awake and full of delight.

It seemed that my soul wished to separate itself from my body. It seemed to be dying and yet to enjoy this. When it turned again back with desire towards the one who was talking to it, I had another shivering and the feeling of a sweet painful death.  My soul was then confused about what to do. If the experience had continued it was going to die or at least to be separated from the body. In such inability to act, it rested with delight in the hands of the Lord and finding great peacefulness it was ready to die in that very moment. Then, in an instant, it regained contact with the senses.

The effect of this was a very tender devotion to the Sacred Heart. During Mass, I was full of sentiment. My soul was moved to tears at Holy Communion. After Mass, I kept much recollection and gladness for the whole day with an increase of Faith, Hope and Charity.[1]

The text is worth reading and meditating with devotion.  This would be sufficient to understand it and to savor it without pretending to penetrate the deep phenomena which it narrates.  However, some remarks are helpful. We take from what Fr. Dalle Vedove wrote with regard to that mystical experience of Fr. Bertoni:

… It is probable that he was preparing in those days the homily for the Feast of the Sacred Heart, the following Friday. Spending nights in work, study and prayer makes one somehow drowsy early in the morning. But Fr Bertoni’s drowsiness was not just natural: it was that turgidity and tying up of the human faculties which is characteristic of mystical experiences. The words Look at this Heart of mine! were heard distinctly. What followed was like a flash of lightning: an irresistible desire to see the lovable object which was indicated.

… The sudden and almost violent way in which Fr. Gaspar was taken by this mystic gift showed that it was not a simple ecstasy, which should have developed slowly and pleasantly, but rather a real rapture or flight of the spirit. The effects of this extraordinary experience invaded not only the spiritual faculties of mind and will but also the physical ones with characteristic phenomena like shivering of the body and shutting off of sight and voice. He even reached, twice, the state of alienation close to death. Yet the whole experience was described as delightful and in great quiet. The rapture in front of the Crucifix marks the height of Fr. Gaspar’s extraordinary spiritual gifts. After this mystical experience, he was no longer sure what he should write down on paper. He will record only seven more short notes and will leave blank the remaining 90 pages of his JOURNAL. The reason could be that a new phase of his life was opening up.

… Within few months he will be struck by a sickness which will accompany him for the remaining forty years of his life, marked by intense suffering. From the ecstasy in front of the Crucifix which showed him the Sacred Heart, a new journey began. It will lead him to the total sacrifice of self. Just like Jesus who, after his Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, took decisively the road to Jerusalem for his sacrifice on Mount Calvary… [2]

Let us pray for each other, for a blessed and happy new year – with the prayers of the our Patrons, the Holy Spouses, Mary and Joseph, let us undertake our journey of following the Lord – the Star of His word, until He leads us all home to the perpetual life of His Eternal glory.

Sincerely yours in the Merciful Lord,

Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director

 

P.S.     To help us reflect on this new year, I am offering two reflections from St. Gaspar: one from his Epiphany Letter of 1806 – and the other, a meditation on his spirituality and theology.

[1] Web-Site Note:  it is interesting to note that in these days [less than a week later] Fr. Bertoni was thinking integrally also of the Glorious Wounds retained in Christ’s Risen Body. In St. Gaspar’s sermon on the Sacred Heart [June 5, 1812], he stated: His side, opened after His death, is used to show us that Heart, that same Heart wounded by the lance, that WOUND RETAINED IN HIS GLORIOUS BODY, render the Heart so sweet, evident, divine, so much so that it is impossible to venerate the Wounded Heart without remembering and venerating His immense love [cf. MssB # 1771]. This integral theme is much in evidence in Fr. Bertoni’s spirit – cf. J. Henchey, CSS, ‘S. Gaspare Bertoni: una speranza missionaria…, in”:  Symposium…, pp. 143-160.

[2] Fr. Nello Dalle Vedove, Un modello…, o.c., pp. 191, ff.

Parish Sermons-1806-1211-1240

Eucharist and Draw – by Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY – FOR JANUARY, 2017

Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL  60060

December 26, 2016
St. Stephen – 1st Martyr

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

Here, the day after Christmas, the Church reminds us of the first Martyr, St Stephen. As our second centenary as Stigmatines fades into happy memory, we look forward to this beginning the third centenary – and early in January, we have the celebration of the Epiphany of the Lord. Like the Magi of old, we are called to follow the star: to follow God’s word.  St. Thomas Aquinas and the Mystics refer to faith compared to a candle in a dark place – and, in faith, we pray that perpetual light may shine for all eternity, when we are brought home to God, by following the star of God’s word, and the teaching of the Church.

As St. Stephen was giving his missionary life up to the Lord, the Scriptures tell us that as the Saint was being martyred, being filled with the Holy Spirit,  and saw the heavens opened [cf. Ac 7: 54-60]. This is the goal of our pleasing the Lord by one day entering heaven, persevering in faith all through life, by following the bright star of His word in a darkened world.

To teach us along our way, the Church offers us a wide variety of ‘Models” of Redemption – this meeting of God’s Infinite Divine Mercy with our abysmal human misery.  Some of these are:

  • Agriculture [vine and branches; seed of God’s word];
  • Economics [Debt; Purchase price];
  • Medical [healing, Eucharist as Pharmacum: Antidote]; Liturgy [Sacrifice, Communion, Holocaust];
  • Juridical [Tribunal; Judgment; Advocate];
  • Military [Spiritual Combat; sword of God’s Word; helmet of salvation]; Family [God as Father; Spouse; Infancy].

Over the marvelous discoveries of the past 225 years, some might at Astronomy – with the discovery of a bit more of the immense treasures of the created universes.

Astronomy can teach the open mind about the size of the planets, and stars – the distances – their speed – and the power of their gravity and the magnetic fields in this millennia-old “tug of war’ going on in the skies above.  A modern theologian, the late Has Urs von Balthasar, developed the idea of a Christological Constellation – all the saints of the New Testament and of all time gyrate around the  Central Power of God’s Mercy, drawing us ever onward and upward and upwards. Spiritually, the infinite Mercy of God has reversed the natural Law of gravity – he used the metaphor of a “Christological constellation” – reversing the natural process of falling down, but his mercy Lifts us up – and we pray in each Mass, Lift up your hearts!

St. Gaspar Bertoni spoke of being drawn on ward by the power of the Lord: in his very first letter, of Nov. 12, 1812, he writes about his dream of a community. He reminds us that when Peter heard that correction when he seemed to be sinking into the deep waters, the Lord said to him:  “Ye of little faith! Why do you doubt?”  [Mt 14, 31]. The Lord Jesus was very near to the struggling Peter at this time, and was approaching him over the storm waters, drawing him by His own right hand. His prayer was at that time as the Spouse in the Song of Songs: Draw me after you! [Ct 1:23] [cf. Epistolario, pp. 23, f.].  Again St. Gaspar reminds us in his 149th letter [cf. o.c., p. 236] – the Lord takes hold of our weakness, and draws it to Himself and shares His own good odor with us. He further noted that good prayers of dear people for us further enable us to draw the carriage of our burdens in the service of the Lord [cf. o.c. p. 286].

This same ideal is presented to us in the resurrection of the Spouse of the Church. We read in John 12:32 that when He is raised up, He will draw all to Himself.  Fr. Bertoni’s own spirituality seems to manifest a kind of Eucharistic Constellation, as his own Spiritual Diary indicates this way:

AN INTRODUCTION FOR THE YEAR 1812

Fr. Bertoni continued with great determination his apostolate and his penances until October, the month during which a very severe illness struck him.  He was hardly recovering from that illness, when Bishop Innocence Liruti gave him more ministries to accomplish in the Seminary.  He had to suspend the assistance to the Canossa “Retreat”, except for the Direction of its Superior, Mother Leopoldina Naudet.

Before presenting an outstanding “gift of Prayer” which Fr. Bertoni received on 30 May 1812 (during the Octave of Corpus Christi), we should like to give an extract from Leopoldina’s Diary. It deals with an experience of ecstasy which she tried to resist, during the Mass of Holy Thursday which on that year fell on 26 March:

“… While thinking of the Institution of the Blessed Sacrament I was taken in spirit to the place of the Last Supper. In the contemplation of what was going on there, I felt being very pleasantly but strongly drawn out of myself. I abandoned myself and surrendered to the power and pleasantness of that pulling force. When I realized that my body was also going to be involved and it started to lose its sensitivity, my natural reaction forced me to become distracted.   I did that, however, with some hesitation. I knew that I was told not to do like that and to trust in God. Notwithstanding that I gave myself an excuse thinking that what I was experiencing could be a physical weakness. I continued to distract myself in order to have control over my feelings and to remain self-conscious… “

Fr. Bertoni had previously advised her with a statement so characteristic of him: Do not resist God. Trust in God!  What would have happened on that Maundy Thursday if Leopoldina would not have resisted the attractions of God, seems that her Spiritual Director experienced himself a couple of months later on 30 May 1812.

†††

30th MAY 1812

[171.]      While in prayer before Mass I was taken over by some drowsiness and I heard from the Crucifix these words addressed to my heart: Look at this Heart of mine!  Those words immediately brightened my mind with light and my heart felt suddenly a great fervor. Then it was as if my spirit rose up to see the lovable object which was indicated. I felt a shivering throughout my whole body.  I found I had my eyes and mouth closed but my soul was wide awake and full of delight.

It seemed that my soul wished to separate itself from my body. It seemed to be dying and yet to enjoy this. When it turned again back with desire towards the one who was talking to it, I had another shivering and the feeling of a sweet painful death.  My soul was then confused about what to do. If the experience had continued it was going to die or at least to be separated from the body. In such inability to act, it rested with delight in the hands of the Lord and finding great peacefulness it was ready to die in that very moment. Then, in an instant, it regained contact with the senses.

The effect of this was a very tender devotion to the Sacred Heart. During Mass, I was full of sentiment. My soul was moved to tears at Holy Communion. After Mass, I kept much recollection and gladness for the whole day with an increase of Faith, Hope and Charity.[1]

The text is worth reading and meditating with devotion.  This would be sufficient to understand it and to savor it without pretending to penetrate the deep phenomena which it narrates.  However, some remarks are helpful. We take from what Fr. Dalle Vedove wrote with regard to that mystical experience of Fr. Bertoni:

… It is probable that he was preparing in those days the homily for the Feast of the Sacred Heart, the following Friday. Spending nights in work, study and prayer makes one somehow drowsy early in the morning. But Fr Bertoni’s drowsiness was not just natural: it was that turgidity and tying up of the human faculties which is characteristic of mystical experiences. The words Look at this Heart of mine! were heard distinctly. What followed was like a flash of lightning: an irresistible desire to see the lovable object which was indicated.

… The sudden and almost violent way in which Fr. Gaspar was taken by this mystic gift showed that it was not a simple ecstasy, which should have developed slowly and pleasantly, but rather a real rapture or flight of the spirit. The effects of this extraordinary experience invaded not only the spiritual faculties of mind and will but also the physical ones with characteristic phenomena like shivering of the body and shutting off of sight and voice. He even reached, twice, the state of alienation close to death. Yet the whole experience was described as delightful and in great quiet. The rapture in front of the Crucifix marks the height of Fr. Gaspar’s extraordinary spiritual gifts. After this mystical experience, he was no longer sure what he should write down on paper. He will record only seven more short notes and will leave blank the remaining 90 pages of his JOURNAL. The reason could be that a new phase of his life was opening up.

… Within few months he will be struck by a sickness which will accompany him for the remaining forty years of his life, marked by intense suffering. From the ecstasy in front of the Crucifix which showed him the Sacred Heart, a new journey began. It will lead him to the total sacrifice of self. Just like Jesus who, after his Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, took decisively the road to Jerusalem for his sacrifice on Mount Calvary… [2]

Let us pray for each other, for a blessed and happy new year – with the prayers of the our Patrons, the Holy Spouses, Mary and Joseph, let us undertake our journey of following the Lord – the Star of His word, until He leads us all home to the perpetual life of His Eternal glory.

Sincerely yours in the Merciful Lord,

Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director

 

P.S.     To help us reflect on this new year, I am offering two reflections from St. Gaspar: one from his Epiphany Letter of 1806 – and the other, a meditation on his spirituality and theology.

[1] Web-Site Note:  it is interesting to note that in these days [less than a week later] Fr. Bertoni was thinking integrally also of the Glorious Wounds retained in Christ’s Risen Body. In St. Gaspar’s sermon on the Sacred Heart [June 5, 1812], he stated: His side, opened after His death, is used to show us that Heart, that same Heart wounded by the lance, that WOUND RETAINED IN HIS GLORIOUS BODY, render the Heart so sweet, evident, divine, so much so that it is impossible to venerate the Wounded Heart without remembering and venerating His immense love [cf. MssB # 1771]. This integral theme is much in evidence in Fr. Bertoni’s spirit – cf. J. Henchey, CSS, ‘S. Gaspare Bertoni: una speranza missionaria…, in”:  Symposium…, pp. 143-160.

[2] Fr. Nello Dalle Vedove, Un modello…, o.c., pp. 191, ff.

Parish Sermons-1806-1211-1240

Eucharist and Draw – by Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY – FOR DECEMBER, 2016

Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060

 Solemnity of Christ the King 2016

Dear Stigmatine Laity,

If it is not too personal, I would like to share a dear memory with you from my own life, from our special celebration of “Christ the King Sunday” of 1955 – my ordination as a Deacon on that day.  In those years, the Solemnity of Christ the King was celebrated on the last Sunday of October – and the date that year was October 31st, for us Americans, Halloween. So my class and I went down in our own history as the “Halloween Deacons!”

St. Gaspar Bertoni, Founder of the Stigmatine Congregation

By that stage in our formation, the person and writings of our eventually sainted Founder, St. Gaspar Bertoni, were such a part of our daily lives as we prepared for these great and challenging steps along the way toward the Stigmatine Priesthood.  We came to understand that St. Gaspar Bertoni was much inspired to imitate/ follow Jesus Christ in his own particular manner, as “Apostolic Missionary” responding to the portrait of the Risen Christ: We must make in ourselves a portrait of Jesus Christ. [His Diary, Feb. 26, 1809]. In Jn 20: Jesus showed His Apostles His wounded hands and His side, saying: As the Father sent Me, now I send you! – and his hope was that this dream would also be handed on to other later generations of Stigmatines. It seems that already before his death, St. Gaspar hoped that the Stigmatines would become “international’ as he said in his Original Constitutions: that we should be ready to go “anywhere’ in the Diocese or the World.

St. Gaspar chose a sublime “way of living”, a truly committed modus vivendi, by choosing St. Ignatius of Loyola, as his “Model’ about which he wrote:  For the examination of conscience one should choose a Saint of the same vocation as a mirror…[July 30, 1808]. St. Paul had already taught us that Jesus Christ was the ICON [the image] of the Living God [cf.  Col 1:15]! St. Paul’s challenge was also: put on the mind of Christ Jesus! [cf. Ph 2:5, ff.]. This is what St. Ignatius did, and St. Gaspar followed suit and tried to do the same in his own life.

As we remember from our recent celebration of our second Stigmatine  centenary, St. Gaspar entered the House called the Stimmate [named for the Stigmata of St. Francis] in Verona  on November 4, 1816 – and died there on June 12, 1853, after nearly 53 years as a priest. As his health declined, in the 1840’s,  he was inspired to put together some kind of a rule of life to be observed as he approached his own death. While he lived, the first Stigmatines looked upon him as the “Living Rule”. In the mind of the Church, a book of “Constitutions” approved by the Church, is intended to  keep this blessed manner of living alive – even though it would need periodic updating with the passing of the years.

In this month’s reflection, we will offer the first  four “Codes” of St. Gaspar’s Way of Life: His Original Constitutions [1840, and the years following,  after living the community life for a quarter of a century]. – an eventual Appendix to Part XII to St. Gaspar’s original code – a juridical addition, requested by the Holy See for the initial approval of the community; a manuscript of 1889, prepared for printing as the Congregation sought its definitive canonical approval – which came in 1890; and finally, another Code [with corrections, omissions] offered following the results of the General Chapters of those years and the required observations from the Holy See in 1890– four booklets in all.

In his Summa, St. Thomas Aquinas dedicated some 25 of his lengthy  Questions to the matter of “Law”. Jesus Christ “translated” His Father’s Will/Word in His Incarnation. With His Resurrection/ Ascension, the Lord left this challenge to His Church – some of her members were inspired by the Spirit to communicate Christ’s revealed message in the spoken and written Word. Through the centuries, great men and women were called to further the Kingdom of God – which had its own “Constitutions” in the Commandments, Beatitudes and Counsels.  Each of these great individuals left their mark on the pages of the history of the Church, and her holiness.  The ideal was committed to the human word, which constantly needed further fathoming, and a deeper understanding. To help in this process, Laws and various codices came to gather with some practical insight into the great Mystery of God and His Plan.  As. St. Thomas noted [cf. A. I. Menessier, OP, Pattern For A Christian According To St. Thomas Aquinas, pp. 47, ff.] fundamental requirements ask for contemplative reflection, updating, editing.

The Law of a religious community – its fundamental Law – after the divine revelation, is the Teaching of the Church and her   special Witnesses. To be valid, this Law needs to look out for the betterment of the whole. Obedience to the Law of God is to live His will.  As Moses’ presented a Law written on stone Exodus], Jeremiah [31:31, ff.] speaks of a New Covenant of God’s Mercy written on the hearts of human beings. These attempts needed progressive education, and on-going enrichment by the understanding and the living of those Laws that lead to God. Each human existence has divine meaning.  Faith is first and in every way, in the Revelation that God makes of Himself – through the centuries this is more deeply grasped to live by the understanding that comes through Contemplation, Study, Magisterium and Lived Experience [DV 8].

As the divine word was incarnate in human flesh – to redeem the world and to make known the plan of God, the celebration of the Incarnation is observed as “Christmas”. The three Masses were thought of as the eternal birth of Christ from the bosom of the Father – the Mass at Dawn as the birth from the Blessed Virgin Mary – and the birth of us all  through the grace of God in our lives offered to us through Mercy.

St. Gaspar saw it this way:

During the three [Christmas] Masses: recollection and an experience of the great benefit of [my] vocation. What a great blessing it is to become oblivious and stripped of all created things. To seek only God. How much did God honor and love His humiliated Son.  Oh, what a responsibility do we have to do for Him, partly at least, what He firstly did for us. [December 25, 1808].

As Christmas approaches, along with the great mysteries of Jesus’ Eternal Birth from all eternity – His birth from the Blessed Virgin Mary, Spouse of Joseph – let us pray over the Mass during the Day, asking God to deepen His Sons birth in our hearts and minds.

A blessed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year! Let us continue to pray for each other! With much hope in God’s Mercy and with the intercession of our Holy Patrons, the Spouses Mary and Joseph, may blessings come to us all in this happy season!

Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director

juridical_renewals

Early Juridical Formulations of the Stigmatine Constitutions

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY – FOR DECEMBER, 2016

Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060

 Solemnity of Christ the King 2016

Dear Stigmatine Laity,

If it is not too personal, I would like to share a dear memory with you from my own life, from our special celebration of “Christ the King Sunday” of 1955 – my ordination as a Deacon on that day.  In those years, the Solemnity of Christ the King was celebrated on the last Sunday of October – and the date that year was October 31st, for us Americans, Halloween. So my class and I went down in our own history as the “Halloween Deacons!”

St. Gaspar Bertoni, Founder of the Stigmatine Congregation

By that stage in our formation, the person and writings of our eventually sainted Founder, St. Gaspar Bertoni, were such a part of our daily lives as we prepared for these great and challenging steps along the way toward the Stigmatine Priesthood.  We came to understand that St. Gaspar Bertoni was much inspired to imitate/ follow Jesus Christ in his own particular manner, as “Apostolic Missionary” responding to the portrait of the Risen Christ: We must make in ourselves a portrait of Jesus Christ. [His Diary, Feb. 26, 1809]. In Jn 20: Jesus showed His Apostles His wounded hands and His side, saying: As the Father sent Me, now I send you! – and his hope was that this dream would also be handed on to other later generations of Stigmatines. It seems that already before his death, St. Gaspar hoped that the Stigmatines would become “international’ as he said in his Original Constitutions: that we should be ready to go “anywhere’ in the Diocese or the World.

St. Gaspar chose a sublime “way of living”, a truly committed modus vivendi, by choosing St. Ignatius of Loyola, as his “Model’ about which he wrote:  For the examination of conscience one should choose a Saint of the same vocation as a mirror…[July 30, 1808]. St. Paul had already taught us that Jesus Christ was the ICON [the image] of the Living God [cf.  Col 1:15]! St. Paul’s challenge was also: put on the mind of Christ Jesus! [cf. Ph 2:5, ff.]. This is what St. Ignatius did, and St. Gaspar followed suit and tried to do the same in his own life.

As we remember from our recent celebration of our second Stigmatine  centenary, St. Gaspar entered the House called the Stimmate [named for the Stigmata of St. Francis] in Verona  on November 4, 1816 – and died there on June 12, 1853, after nearly 53 years as a priest. As his health declined, in the 1840’s,  he was inspired to put together some kind of a rule of life to be observed as he approached his own death. While he lived, the first Stigmatines looked upon him as the “Living Rule”. In the mind of the Church, a book of “Constitutions” approved by the Church, is intended to  keep this blessed manner of living alive – even though it would need periodic updating with the passing of the years.

In this month’s reflection, we will offer the first  four “Codes” of St. Gaspar’s Way of Life: His Original Constitutions [1840, and the years following,  after living the community life for a quarter of a century]. – an eventual Appendix to Part XII to St. Gaspar’s original code – a juridical addition, requested by the Holy See for the initial approval of the community; a manuscript of 1889, prepared for printing as the Congregation sought its definitive canonical approval – which came in 1890; and finally, another Code [with corrections, omissions] offered following the results of the General Chapters of those years and the required observations from the Holy See in 1890– four booklets in all.

In his Summa, St. Thomas Aquinas dedicated some 25 of his lengthy  Questions to the matter of “Law”. Jesus Christ “translated” His Father’s Will/Word in His Incarnation. With His Resurrection/ Ascension, the Lord left this challenge to His Church – some of her members were inspired by the Spirit to communicate Christ’s revealed message in the spoken and written Word. Through the centuries, great men and women were called to further the Kingdom of God – which had its own “Constitutions” in the Commandments, Beatitudes and Counsels.  Each of these great individuals left their mark on the pages of the history of the Church, and her holiness.  The ideal was committed to the human word, which constantly needed further fathoming, and a deeper understanding. To help in this process, Laws and various codices came to gather with some practical insight into the great Mystery of God and His Plan.  As. St. Thomas noted [cf. A. I. Menessier, OP, Pattern For A Christian According To St. Thomas Aquinas, pp. 47, ff.] fundamental requirements ask for contemplative reflection, updating, editing.

The Law of a religious community – its fundamental Law – after the divine revelation, is the Teaching of the Church and her   special Witnesses. To be valid, this Law needs to look out for the betterment of the whole. Obedience to the Law of God is to live His will.  As Moses’ presented a Law written on stone Exodus], Jeremiah [31:31, ff.] speaks of a New Covenant of God’s Mercy written on the hearts of human beings. These attempts needed progressive education, and on-going enrichment by the understanding and the living of those Laws that lead to God. Each human existence has divine meaning.  Faith is first and in every way, in the Revelation that God makes of Himself – through the centuries this is more deeply grasped to live by the understanding that comes through Contemplation, Study, Magisterium and Lived Experience [DV 8].

As the divine word was incarnate in human flesh – to redeem the world and to make known the plan of God, the celebration of the Incarnation is observed as “Christmas”. The three Masses were thought of as the eternal birth of Christ from the bosom of the Father – the Mass at Dawn as the birth from the Blessed Virgin Mary – and the birth of us all  through the grace of God in our lives offered to us through Mercy.

St. Gaspar saw it this way:

During the three [Christmas] Masses: recollection and an experience of the great benefit of [my] vocation. What a great blessing it is to become oblivious and stripped of all created things. To seek only God. How much did God honor and love His humiliated Son.  Oh, what a responsibility do we have to do for Him, partly at least, what He firstly did for us. [December 25, 1808].

As Christmas approaches, along with the great mysteries of Jesus’ Eternal Birth from all eternity – His birth from the Blessed Virgin Mary, Spouse of Joseph – let us pray over the Mass during the Day, asking God to deepen His Sons birth in our hearts and minds.

A blessed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year! Let us continue to pray for each other! With much hope in God’s Mercy and with the intercession of our Holy Patrons, the Spouses Mary and Joseph, may blessings come to us all in this happy season!

Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director

juridical_renewals

Early Juridical Formulations of the Stigmatine Constitutions

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY – FOR NOVEMBER, 2016

Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060

October 28 2016
Sts. Simon & Jude, Apostles & Missionaries

Very dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

In less than two weeks – this coming November 4th, 2016, the Stigmatine Community will celebrate its 200th birthday. As a grateful souvenir of this happy occurrence, we submit for this month’s Stigmatine reflection, our “Stigmatine Calendar” – that notes some events [major and minor!] of the community from 1777-1911.  These community diary notes were jotted down over the years, with remarks for almost every day of the month, for every day of the year. One example is as follows – On what happened on other November 4’ths over the years:

NOVEMBER 4

1794:   Francis Peter Faber Pacificus Leonard Cartolari was born, the son of Peter [future Stigmatine].

The building and Church of the Stigmata, mother-house of the Stigmatine Congregation
The building and Church of the Stigmata, mother-house of the Stigmatine Congregation

 

1816:   The birthday of the Congregation. On this day, Fr. Bertoni, Fr. John Mary Marani and Brother Paul Zanoli came to the Stimmate to take up residence. The beginnings of the Congregation.

 

 

1862:   The Novitiate was transferred from the Stimmate to the Trinità   for the second time.   Fr. Marani, Superior General, blessed the House, that had been renovated. Fr. Vincent Vignola celebrated the Mass. The Triinità had been vacant for the past three years due to the work going on there. There were three Professed Students: Charles Zara, Francis Sogaro and Louis Morando [these last two would pass away as Consecrated Bishops].  There were four Novice Students: Andrew Sterza, Joseph DeVai, Joseph Sembianti and one other. There were also several Brothers there: Bro. Zanoli, Infirmarian and laundry; Bro. Nicora, Porter and tailor; Bro. Reali, Cook.  Among the Aspirants were Anthony Caucigh, Pio Gurisatti and James Marini.

1866:   This was the Golden Jubilee of the Congregation.  It was the first Sunday of November. The day was celebrated both at the Stimmate and at Villazzano, Trent, where the Students of the Congregation were living ‘in exile.’

1885:   On this date, Bishop Riboldi [later Cardinal], welcomed the Congregation of the Stimmate into his Diocese. The Congregation had come to Pavia to assist with the Oratory of St. Aloysius; to conduct a night school for workers’ and to preach Missions throughout the Diocese as long as this did not conflict with the other functions there.

Father Pio Gurisatti [1848- +1921] 4th Superior General [1891 – 1911]
In writing [over 50 years ago] his very authoritative biography of St. Gaspar Bertoni,  Fr. Joseph Stofella [one of our greatest community biographers and historians] noted a minor characteristic shift in life. He underwent a kind of “character’ change that brought him from a “happy-go-lucky” lad, to one who was more reflective and pensive.  In Fr. Stofella’s view this change seems to have been occasioned by domestic difficulties of his parents, and by a number of deaths in the Bertoni household, during St. Gaspar’s early teen years.  One death in particular might have been  included here – that of a three years old sister, Matilde, who died of miliary fever- which afflicted the Founder himself for years to come . The term Fr. Stofella used to describe St. Gaspar’s early shift, was “fugacità”, meaning a keen awareness of the passing nature of time – as noted in a well-known Latin saying: Tempus fugit!  The Saint’s spiritual writings offer us a reflection:

17th SEPTEMBER 1808

nicoraantonio
Bro. Antonio Nicora [1835- +1921]
 [49.]           Meditation. Death. The past is no more. The future has not yet arrived. Only the present is here. And it is in my hands. Let me live day after day, or rather from morning to midday and from midday to evening. Let me do every single thing with all possible perfection. Perhaps I will have no more time in which to glorify God.
This is a reflection on the Meditation of the day during this course of Retreat which lasted 8 days. The previous day he had meditated on the Foundation (the Purpose of Human Life) and on Sin.  On the 17th he meditated on the Last Things and first: on Death. After the text which he heard from the Retreat Master and ended with:  only the present is here –   it is in my hands!  He then added his personal resolution.  This resolution has its source in a reading of ‘Rodriguez’:

… Do not take into account anything except TODAY. It is the usual temptation of the Devil to frighten us with the prospect of having to persevere for the whole stretch of a long life. This happened to St. Ignatius at Manresa. But who is not able to make an effort only for one day?

marinigiacomo2
Fr. James Marini
[1849- +1925]
To this he adds a charming text from Genesis, about Jacob trying to win Rachel to himself. This could become a norm of life and it is chosen as a conclusion of the whole chapter. This is the text [These seven years were] seemed to him but a few days, because of the greatness of his love! (Gen 29, 20)… [1]

To come to practical conclusions, Fr. Gaspar restricted his terms to half a day… which is also a suggestion of St. Ignatius for the practice of the Particular Examen.   As far as the original text to which Fr. Gaspar referred, it is from St. Augustine’s Confessions:

… This is what is called time. The past is not ours, nor can it be recalled. The future is not yet and will perhaps never be. Only the present belongs to us. But, alas! We scarcely have it, because it runs away even though we can keep it for ourselves. In fact in the same time that it starts to be it passes or rather it has passed away… [2]

Fr. Andrew Sterza
[1847- +1898]

The good use of time! Fr. Gaspar makes a practical resolution for holiness in the spirit of the most pure love. What matters for him is only the greater glory of God.

+

28th APRIL 1811

[167.]          Watch and pray: This summarizes all the advices of

Scripture and of the Gospel.

WATCH: This means we have to be fully awake and strong: but without weapons. One could not resist if attacked: we shall be conquered.

PRAY: This means to be well armed, but asleep. If we are to be attacked we shall be stripped of our arms and killed by treachery.

WATCH and PRAY! This is a man who is strong, awake and well armed. He won’t be conquered.

Along with being our bicentenary, November is also the Month of the Holy Souls! Let us pray for our deceased, relatives and benefactors – and Stigmatine Lay members.

Respectfully in the Merciful Lord,

Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
[Acting Spiritual Director]

 [1] Rodriguez, Part I, Tract 2, c. 6.

[2] Fr. Stofella found this text of Augustine’s Confessions  11,  in: Fr. Vincent Houdry, SJ,  Preacher’s Library. Remondini:  Venice –  a book much used by our early Confreres.

gaspar-55APPENDIX:

Stigmatine Calendar [1777-1911] – by Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY – FOR NOVEMBER, 2016

Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060

October 28 2016
Sts. Simon & Jude, Apostles & Missionaries

Very dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

In less than two weeks – this coming November 4th, 2016, the Stigmatine Community will celebrate its 200th birthday. As a grateful souvenir of this happy occurrence, we submit for this month’s Stigmatine reflection, our “Stigmatine Calendar” – that notes some events [major and minor!] of the community from 1777-1911.  These community diary notes were jotted down over the years, with remarks for almost every day of the month, for every day of the year. One example is as follows – On what happened on other November 4’ths over the years:

NOVEMBER 4

1794:   Francis Peter Faber Pacificus Leonard Cartolari was born, the son of Peter [future Stigmatine].

The building and Church of the Stigmata, mother-house of the Stigmatine Congregation
The building and Church of the Stigmata, mother-house of the Stigmatine Congregation

 

1816:   The birthday of the Congregation. On this day, Fr. Bertoni, Fr. John Mary Marani and Brother Paul Zanoli came to the Stimmate to take up residence. The beginnings of the Congregation.

 

 

1862:   The Novitiate was transferred from the Stimmate to the Trinità   for the second time.   Fr. Marani, Superior General, blessed the House, that had been renovated. Fr. Vincent Vignola celebrated the Mass. The Triinità had been vacant for the past three years due to the work going on there. There were three Professed Students: Charles Zara, Francis Sogaro and Louis Morando [these last two would pass away as Consecrated Bishops].  There were four Novice Students: Andrew Sterza, Joseph DeVai, Joseph Sembianti and one other. There were also several Brothers there: Bro. Zanoli, Infirmarian and laundry; Bro. Nicora, Porter and tailor; Bro. Reali, Cook.  Among the Aspirants were Anthony Caucigh, Pio Gurisatti and James Marini.

1866:   This was the Golden Jubilee of the Congregation.  It was the first Sunday of November. The day was celebrated both at the Stimmate and at Villazzano, Trent, where the Students of the Congregation were living ‘in exile.’

1885:   On this date, Bishop Riboldi [later Cardinal], welcomed the Congregation of the Stimmate into his Diocese. The Congregation had come to Pavia to assist with the Oratory of St. Aloysius; to conduct a night school for workers’ and to preach Missions throughout the Diocese as long as this did not conflict with the other functions there.

Father Pio Gurisatti [1848- +1921] 4th Superior General [1891 – 1911]
In writing [over 50 years ago] his very authoritative biography of St. Gaspar Bertoni,  Fr. Joseph Stofella [one of our greatest community biographers and historians] noted a minor characteristic shift in life. He underwent a kind of “character’ change that brought him from a “happy-go-lucky” lad, to one who was more reflective and pensive.  In Fr. Stofella’s view this change seems to have been occasioned by domestic difficulties of his parents, and by a number of deaths in the Bertoni household, during St. Gaspar’s early teen years.  One death in particular might have been  included here – that of a three years old sister, Matilde, who died of miliary fever- which afflicted the Founder himself for years to come . The term Fr. Stofella used to describe St. Gaspar’s early shift, was “fugacità”, meaning a keen awareness of the passing nature of time – as noted in a well-known Latin saying: Tempus fugit!  The Saint’s spiritual writings offer us a reflection:

17th SEPTEMBER 1808

nicoraantonio
Bro. Antonio Nicora [1835- +1921]
 [49.]           Meditation. Death. The past is no more. The future has not yet arrived. Only the present is here. And it is in my hands. Let me live day after day, or rather from morning to midday and from midday to evening. Let me do every single thing with all possible perfection. Perhaps I will have no more time in which to glorify God.
This is a reflection on the Meditation of the day during this course of Retreat which lasted 8 days. The previous day he had meditated on the Foundation (the Purpose of Human Life) and on Sin.  On the 17th he meditated on the Last Things and first: on Death. After the text which he heard from the Retreat Master and ended with:  only the present is here –   it is in my hands!  He then added his personal resolution.  This resolution has its source in a reading of ‘Rodriguez’:

… Do not take into account anything except TODAY. It is the usual temptation of the Devil to frighten us with the prospect of having to persevere for the whole stretch of a long life. This happened to St. Ignatius at Manresa. But who is not able to make an effort only for one day?

marinigiacomo2
Fr. James Marini
[1849- +1925]
To this he adds a charming text from Genesis, about Jacob trying to win Rachel to himself. This could become a norm of life and it is chosen as a conclusion of the whole chapter. This is the text [These seven years were] seemed to him but a few days, because of the greatness of his love! (Gen 29, 20)… [1]

To come to practical conclusions, Fr. Gaspar restricted his terms to half a day… which is also a suggestion of St. Ignatius for the practice of the Particular Examen.   As far as the original text to which Fr. Gaspar referred, it is from St. Augustine’s Confessions:

… This is what is called time. The past is not ours, nor can it be recalled. The future is not yet and will perhaps never be. Only the present belongs to us. But, alas! We scarcely have it, because it runs away even though we can keep it for ourselves. In fact in the same time that it starts to be it passes or rather it has passed away… [2]

Fr. Andrew Sterza
[1847- +1898]

The good use of time! Fr. Gaspar makes a practical resolution for holiness in the spirit of the most pure love. What matters for him is only the greater glory of God.

+

28th APRIL 1811

[167.]          Watch and pray: This summarizes all the advices of

Scripture and of the Gospel.

WATCH: This means we have to be fully awake and strong: but without weapons. One could not resist if attacked: we shall be conquered.

PRAY: This means to be well armed, but asleep. If we are to be attacked we shall be stripped of our arms and killed by treachery.

WATCH and PRAY! This is a man who is strong, awake and well armed. He won’t be conquered.

Along with being our bicentenary, November is also the Month of the Holy Souls! Let us pray for our deceased, relatives and benefactors – and Stigmatine Lay members.

Respectfully in the Merciful Lord,

Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
[Acting Spiritual Director]

 [1] Rodriguez, Part I, Tract 2, c. 6.

[2] Fr. Stofella found this text of Augustine’s Confessions  11,  in: Fr. Vincent Houdry, SJ,  Preacher’s Library. Remondini:  Venice –  a book much used by our early Confreres.

gaspar-55APPENDIX:

Stigmatine Calendar [1777-1911] – by Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS