Category Archives: Monthly Letter


Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL     60060

December 26, 2015
Feast of the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary, Joseph

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

With Christmas behind us, and New Year’s Day just ahead – it is good time – in this Year of Mercy – to reflect with St. Gaspar Bertoni, regarding the passing of time. In Italian, there is a word that sums up much of his life: FugacitàTempus fugit! How quickly time goes by! – these liturgical feasts and the Saints of the  year all have their message for each one of us.

St. Gaspar once wrote [July 8, 1808]:

“Making the most of your time” (Ep 5, 16). Time never comes back. We have therefore to use it with great diligence.

In this note there are three separate parts that seem to be closely connected to a warning of the Imitation of Christ. [1] This is also in three parts:

… Keep always in your mind the end.  The past time never comes back. You will never acquire virtue without care and diligence…

The year 2016 presents us [myself included!] with much grateful reflection: – on November 4, 2016 – the Stigmatine community celebrates 200 years of life! On a much lesser scale, my own life celebrates this new year in a special way: I joined the Stigmatines at Waltham on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 1946 – 70 years ago! And on July 1, 1956, I was ordained a priest – so this new year will mark 60 years of Stigmatine priesthood for me. Please join me – through St. Gaspar’s inspiration – in thanking God for all that was, for what is now and for all we look forward to in hope.

Sometimes one thinks of the “good old days”! This may have some value, as to express thanks to God – and learn the necessary lessons for doing better from past mistakes. The world of the past is gone! And God chose us all before this world even began! [Ep 1:4]. The word “Ex-odus” gives us a challenging insight: in our return to God, we are all invited by vocation to leave what was, live what is, and strive for whatever God may want of us in the future. In the Our Father, we pray for the bread of this day – the Psalmist reminds us: this is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice in it! [Ps 118:24].

Modern astronomy, with the considerable insights offered these last 25 years or more from the Hubble telescope, amazes us all especially about the number of the stars and planets – their distances – their speed – their age! Again a Psalmist tells us: that a thousand years in the sight of God are like an hour in the night! [Ps 89]. When we cannot sleep, that may seem like a long time – but when all is said and done, this, too, passes! A “Light Year’ is like 6 trillion miles! – and science has contacted distant objects, thousands upon thousands of light years away! In comparison to such a “light-year” a 75 year life – span is like the blink of the eye – a century has been measured as meaning about 6 seconds! It has been said that the sun has 10 billion years of life and has used up 5 of these – as St. Thomas said in another context, Christ entered history in the middle of the night and in the middle of time! [This has led to the “insiders’” joke: eat your desert first, life is uncertain!] But, with St. Gaspar, we firmly believe we are all in God’s hands.

Scripture often reminds us of this as modern theology and liturgy remind us:

THIS DAY: the spirit behind the Liturgy of the Hours is the blessing of the whole day: morning, noon, even-tide and night. In the General Instruction for the “Liturgy of the Hours” (February 2, 1971), it is stated:

“…: Christ told us about the need to pray continually and never lose heart (Lk 18:1). The Church has faithfully heeded this exhortation by never ceasing in her prayer and urging us to pray. Through Him, let us offer God an unending sacrifice of praise (Heb 13:15). The Church not only satisfies this precept by celebrating the Eucharist, but also in other different ways especially by celebrating the Liturgy of the Hours.  Compared with other liturgical actions, the particular characteristic which ancient tradition has attended to the Liturgy of the Hours is that it should consecrate the course of the day and night (SC 83, 84).

As his spiritual diary drew towards its conclusion, St. Gaspar wrote the following on May 24, 1810: Today, therefore, if you shall hear His voice… harden not your hearts as those ones did, to whom He swore in His wrath… if they will enter into His rest…

The Three Masses of Christ offer an on-going contemplative theological reflection on the divine transcendence, and yet the impassibility of God – in these three aspects of the mystery of the Incarnation:-

  • the presence of Jesus Christ as the Eternal World in his Eternal Birth, His ‘pre-existence’ [Jn 1:1];
  • His Birth from Mary at Dawn, in the virginal of the Eternal Son – and the initial beginning of His Church;
  • The on-going birth of Christ in the minds and hearts of the Faithful open through Divine Grace to His coming until the Second Advent. Here the Divine transcendence and imminence come into contact and almost inter-twine but ‘without confusion. In this On-going birth of Christ is the passing over of each of the Faithful from sin to life – believing in Him is an initial realized eschatology.

This is continued in a recent reading from the Liturgy of the Hours:

[A sermon by St Bernard
Let the word of the Lord come to us]

We know that the coming of the Lord is threefold: the third coming is between the other two and it is not visible in the way they are. At his first coming the Lord was seen on earth and lived among men, who saw him and hated him. At his last coming All flesh shall see the salvation of our God, and They shall look on him whom they have pierced. In the middle, the hidden coming, only the chosen see him, and they see him within themselves; and so their souls are saved. The first coming was in flesh and weakness, the middle coming is in spirit and power, and the final coming will be in glory and majesty.

Our late, illustrious Stigmatine confrere, Fr. Cornelio Fabro, CSS [+May 1995] developed the theme as the “contemporaneity” of Christ in our daily lives – which, he believed, pertained to our Founder to a great extent. There is a strong biblical background to this – as the Trinity dwells within [Jn 17:26] – Grace is a share in God’s nature [2 P 1:4] – the recurring themes: in Christ Jesus, in the Holy Spirit teach this lesson with simple eloquence. While we are indeed a “Resurrection People”, we also believe that in the reception of Holy Communion we receive the Lord as He is now, in His risen state. While Jesus can no longer suffer in His physical body, He daily does so in a mysterious manner, in His “mystical body’ the Church. He is with us, unto the consummation of this world.

For life’s journey – especially in the “dark places”, St. Gaspar was convinced that God’s Word is like a Light for our persevering journey [Ps 119:105]. May Mary, Star of the Sea – the Morning Star, guide us all on our life-long journey home to God.

Fraternally yours in the Merciful Lord,

Rev, Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Moderator

[1] Book I, c. 25, 11.



Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein, IL 60060

Thanksgiving 2015

To: Stigmatine Lay Member

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Mundelein Seminary.  My assignment here as one of the “Adjunct Spiritual Directors” has been a most pleasant experience. In so many professions – like doctors and professors and athletes [!], age is a major factor in one’s continuance in his/her line of ability. With the priesthood and religious life, however, older age provides endless possibilities of experiencing the Cross and the Healing Wounds of Christ – in this, we truly have a Model in our canonized Founder, St. Gaspar Bertoni.  He spent up to 30 years of his life in bed for serious leg infections, and the consequent surgical and very painful episodes of lancing over and over again. Along with these, he suffered many years of serious illness.

Another month has rolled around- and with this one, the “Holiday Season” opens. You can be sure that you and all you share in my daily Mass – and in your kindness please pray for us Stigmatines, our apostolates and missions.

As has been the custom, there will be no First Saturday morning Mass for the group at St. Joseph’s Hall. Admitting that some of us are beyond the age for easy driving in the winter-time – and the high possibility [probability!!] of dangerous snow conditions, there will be no communal Stigmatine Laity Mass at St. Joseph’s Hall.

However, with this letter, please  be sure of our prayers for all of you and all you have loved, during the Holiday Season – as this is  our December reflection, I thought it might be helpful for you to see St. Gaspar Bertoni’s entry in his personal diary for December 25th, 1808, He wrote:

[93.]         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.

            Christmas fell on Sunday that year. Fr. Bertoni was overwhelmed by the blessings he had received, which he shares through brief hints and interjections.

The benefit of his Vocation is to be understood as total Vocation: a vocation to the priesthood – of all the baptized – is a vocation to holiness

What is left for us is perhaps to pick up quietly that spiritual surprise with which Fr Bertoni could contemplate: how much did God honor and love His humiliated Son. He made comparisons and concluded for himself and for us: What a responsibility do we have to do for Him, partly at least, what He first did for us. May Fr, Gaspar obtain for us the grace to be struck by awe at God’s action. [Fr. Joseph Stofella, CSS]

This Letter will be accompanied by St. Gaspar’s New Year’s Letter of January 1, 1803.

May God love you all this Christmas and all through the New Year.

Sincerely yours in the Merciful Lords Healing Wounds through His coming to us in our own suffering:

Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director


Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060

 October 27, 2015

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

Our Father General, Very Reverend Maurizio Baldessari, CSS, has sent a letter out to the entire Stigmatine family, including, of course, all of you!

Following Fr. General’s advice, let us all pray during the Second Centenary Year of the Stigmatine Family for its works, its missions – and even its failures!

We all serve a merciful God, and by the Wounds of His Divine Son we are all healed!  [cf. Is 53:5, 1 P 2: 3, ff.].   Yet is in the Eucharist, too, that all the wounds of life are healed: “Say only the word and my soul will be healed!” [From the Liturgy]

God love you all. A blessed Thanksgiving and holiday time!

Sincerely yours in St. Gaspar Bertoni,

Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS

Acting Spiritual Director



Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060

Feast of St. Teresa of Avila
October 15, 2015

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

Many greetings and a daily remembrance in my Mass for you all!  Through the kindness of Tereza Lopes, our Lay Stigmatine Member of Brazil, presently living with her husband Vicente, in Plano TX.

For our November 2015 reflection from St. Gaspar, I would like to share with you two documents from our Stigmatine History. One of these is a translation of the entries under the date of November 4th, through the years from 1777-1911.

The first is from the “Stigmatine Calendar”:


November 4

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 Trinità 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.’


The second entry is from an original composition called the ‘Short Chronicle’, written during World War I. Here is the then Superior General’s letter of that time:


 The Superior General
to all the venerable Fathers and beloved Brothers
of the religious Congregation of the
Stigmata of our Lord Jesus Christ

The 4th day of November 1816, our Venerable Founder took possession of the locality of the House of the Stimmate and established there his dwelling, accompanied by Fr John Marani and by Brother Paul Zanoli, for the purpose of carrying out there the holy plan with which the Lord had inspired him. On that day, therefore, there began our beloved Congregation which as a result will complete on November 4th next, the first century of its existence. In this centenary recurrence, the Congregation finds the world in conditions very similar to those which were experienced at its beginning. At that time, there were deeply felt the disastrous results of a world-wide crisis that had just terminated – while the crisis that so travails the world today is even more acute, and we are experiencing all the horrors of an inhuman war and all the alarm for its consequences, which will result from this for the cause of religion and society. Nonetheless, the memory of our beginnings ought to serve as some comfort in the present hour.

There was indeed the desolating spectacle of devastation wreaked on the religious field by so many human deviations at the beginning of the last century. The occasion of all this served the Lord in order to lead our Venerable Founder to experience within himself the inspiration for a new religious community. He thus manifested, with still an additional argument, how the divine Providence always makes His purposes holy even when situated into the greatest human travail.

The fact that there can be no external celebrations would seem to be fitting for the circumstances in which we are living. And therefore, with my present Circular Letter, I invite all the Confreres to celebrate on that day such a joyous recurrence, with some religious service of a family and intimate character, for the scope of thanking the Lord for all the benefits showered on our Congregation in this century of its existence, to placate the Divine Justice and to obtain the grace to keep ourselves ready for all He might permit as a just punishment for our own sins and those of others.

Let us pray above all that the Lord might concede to us, even at the cost of some heavy sacrifice, to re-acquire fully that secret of the saints, through which our early members knew how to harmonize together so many values which, by human criteria, are altogether irreconcilable. Our first confreres knew very well how to unite the following:

  1. The continuous quest for the most humble, hidden way, given as the characteristic of their life, together with an illustrious reputation for holiness.
  1. The most austere penance the most sincere joy.
  1. A heroic detachment and an authentic spirit of poverty with the legitimate expenses undertaken for the buildings of the house and the Church, realized without debt, and also in taking care of them without sparing propriety and décor.
  1. The most regular discipline with the most varied multiplicity of occupations.
  1. The most complete subjection with the full development of the individual activities of the Confreres.
  1. Their constant study and work with their most solid piety.

These conciliations represent the secret of the saints; they remain a mystery to this world, and precisely for this reason, they represent the divine character of the Lord’s works.  This secret ought to be the precious inheritance that our first Fathers and Brothers have left to us.  If we have lost these to some extent, may the Lord grant them to us anew. And let there be the humble recognition that in fact we have lost these values in part, and the vivid yearning that we might reacquire this spirit in its entirety. These are the sole conditions that the Lord asks of us in order to bestow on us this important gift that would constitute for us the most beautiful celebration of our centenary.

In order to facilitate for us the acquisition of such a grace, the reception of the Apostolic Approbation of our Constitutions could indeed contribute to this. It is my hope that during this year, this grace will be granted.

I announce further that as a remembrance of such a happy experience as this is, that there are being published the historical recollections of our Religious Congregation.

I wish from my heart the blessings of heaven on all

Rome, October 24, 1916
The Superior GeneralFather John Baptist Tommasi.

It is truly a challenge to keep these lofty ideals, but this is our call as we begin a kind of centenary year honoring our canonized, St. Gaspar Bertoni. Let us continue to pray for one another!

Gratefully yours in the Merciful Stigmata,

Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS


Stigmatines – St. Joseph’s Hall
554 Lexington Street  Waltham MA   02452

 Regular Stigmatine Lay Meeting: Saturday, October 3,  2015        9:00 a.m. Mass – St. Josephs Hall

September 15, 2015
(Seven Dolors of Mary)

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

             Those of us who had the privilege of listening to Page Vandewater and John Marzilli at our recent September meeting, were much encouraged by their very positive report on the International Stigmatine Laity meeting held a month ago in Brazil.   We are grateful to them for representing us.

             Please remember the important Stigmatine community meetings beginning September 17th   & 18th    here: [the meeting of the  Superior General , Fr. Maurizio Baldessari, CSS, and  members of the Province with  the General Council] – and all next week, the annual meeting of our Stigmatine Council of Superiors [made up on the General Council and the world-wide Stigmatine Provincials]. These are important meetings for the Stigmatine community so your prayers for us all are most welcome.

             The October meeting is scheduled for Saturday, October 3rd for the 9:00 a.m. Mass. This is the month of the Holy Rosary, and Fr. Leonard Ferrecchia, CSS will be the celebrant. He will express a few thoughts on the Papal Document of Pope St. John Paul IInd, on St. Joseph as Guardian of the Redeemer and Spouse of Mary.

             In October, also, we remember St Francis of Assisi: il piu’ santo degli italiani, e il piu’ italiano dei Santi! – he is “the most holy of the Italians and the most Italian of the saints”!]   Rather than my regular conference, I will offer St. Gaspar Bertoni’s Franciscan Homilies – two on the great Saint himself and the third one on the Stigmata and Espousals in the life of the Capuchin mystic, St. Veronica Giuliani.  If you have a computer you may get a copy of these conferences, if you would like them, by contacting John Marzilli, or Tereza and Vicente Lopes, our faithful members in Plano TX – who contribute so mightily and have for so long, spreading devotion to St Gaspar Bertoni. If it is possible for Tereza, she will offer these conferences on the Stigmatine Laity Web site.

             God love you all – let us continue to pray for each other!

 Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director

Three “Franciscan” Panegyrics


Stigmatines – St. Joseph’s Hall
554 Lexington Street
Waltham MA 02452

Monday – August 31, 2015

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

Let us begin again with a note from St. Gaspar Bertoni’s personal spiritual diary, dated September 15, 1808 – which subsequently would have a great impact on the later development of the Stigmatine Community:

15th SEPTEMBER 1808

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

[Now, a Brief Commentary by the late Stigmatine historian, Fr. Joseph Stofella, CSS]:

It was at the time of the annual Spiritual Exercises of the Clergy and the Candidates for Ordination, on the autumn Ember Saturday, which that year fell on 24 September. The Exercises began on Thursday evening, the 15th. The collegial visit to the altar of St Ignatius in the church of the Jesuits showed that for those ecclesiastics Saint Ignatius remained always the “Master”.

We do not know what the others had experienced during that “short visit”. Surely, in the life of Fr Bertoni, this was a landmark event! If it is true that the creature is called to pursue the glory of God and that the zeal for the glory of God must follow the plans which Divine Providence established for the destinies of the Elect, that day must have appeared to Fr Bertoni as the day of his effective insertion into those divine plans. As a matter of fact, the Lord assisted the experience by such a gift of Prayer, accompanied by some tears and with much cheerfulness, that to the humble priest it should have felt as really extraordinary. The fact also that he wrote this accurate note shows that he intended to remain grateful for it. He wanted to stimulate himself to correspond to it adequately. We should read again this note, therefore, with the same respectful devotion with which it was written.

The words attributed to St Ignatius reflect the text of Eph 6,13-17 with a reference to Rev 12,9 with that ancient Serpent which was cast down from heaven and leads the whole world astray. The spirit behind all this is the Ignatian “zeal for the greater glory of God”.

For those of you who can be present, we are planning our regular meeting of the Stigmatine Laity, at St. Joseph’s Hall with the 9:00 a.m. Mass. Then, there will be a coffee break – and at; 9:45, I will make a few brief announcements regarding the future of this format for the Stigmatine Laity. From 10:00-11:00 Page Vandewater and John Marzilli will have the hour to discuss their experiences at the International Stigmatine Laity meeting which they attended in Brazil.

One possible format for these meetings [as it is so difficult to travel in the winter so we can have no meetings from December until Easter] would be for me to send out each month by e-mail a reflection from the writings of St. Gaspar Bertoni.

Please pray for us all – our Very Rev. Fr. General [Maurizio Baldessari, CSS] with his Council will be coming for our Province General Meeting, September 17-18th – and then for the Council of Superiors that will conduct their annual meeting here from September 21-25th.

God bless you all – looking forward to your coming, if you can, on Saturday, September 12th, the commemoration of the Most Holy Name of Mary – with Mass beginning at 9:00 a.m. Hope you can come!

Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director


Stigmatines – St. Joseph’s Hall
554 Lexington Street
Waltham MA 02452

Pentecost – May 24, 2015

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

Let us begin with a note from St. Gaspar Bertoni’s personal spiritual diary:

For the examination of conscience, one should choose a Saint of the same vocation as a mirror. In this way, one finds matter for confession every day. Whatever falls short of that Saint’s perfection is faulty. [An excerpt from his spiritual diary, July 30, 1808]

Fr. Gaspar Bertoni founded the Stigmatines almost 200 years ago – at a time when the Jesuits had been suppressed. St. Gaspar made of us a small ‘copy’ of the Society – and a number of the early men had asked the Bishop if they could leave the Diocese and join the re-established Jesuits – and, of course, the Bishop said ‘no’, to meet plus VII’s appeal for Church renewal. St. Gaspar thought he could fill this void in Verona, with diocesan priests who might apply.

The Stigmatine Congregation owes its numerical strength and spiritual prosperity to this young priest who, in an era that spawned more dictators and persecutors than even today, braved intolerance and opposition and started a movement to reclaim the souls of the youth of this city – work for vocations – and contribute to the reformation of the Diocesan Seminary.

Gaspar Louis Dennis Bertoni, born in Verona, Italy, on October 9th, 1777, entered its Seminary at the age of 18. Ordained in September 1800, not quite 23 years of age, he was assigned to one of the city’s larger parishes where he witnessed a society ravaged by the French Revolution and Napoleon’s takeover of Verona. The suffering and neglect – including the dissolution of schools and suppression of religious orders – caused him deep concern, and he decided to combat the evils of his time.

Fr. Bertoni organized his priest and brother associates into a society dedicated to assisting Bishops in any field of the Word of God whatsoever, but particularly in sharing God’s Word [Euntes Docete – Mt 28] – through caring for the education of youth, retreats and parish missions, and developing religious and priestly vocations. On November 4, 1816 – secretly, and without the use of a particular habit – the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata of our Lord Jesus Christ, knows as the “Stigmatines”, came into being. The name, representing the Five Wounds of Christ, was chosen to reflect their willingness to undertake any work, no matter how difficult, for the salvation of souls.

Within two years of Gaspar Bertoni’s death [† June 12, 1853], the small community he had founded was given its initial approval by the Holy See – and in 1856 was formally erected as a Religious Congregation.

In the early 20th Century, the Stigmatines answered the call for priests and religious to serve the Italians who had sought a new life in the Americas, uniquely through offering local parochial assistance. In 1905, they followed the emigrants to the United States – and in 1910 to South America [Brazil]. At the request of the Holy See, some eventually undertook the special vocation of spreading the faith in the Far East of China.
From the humble beginning of two priests and one Brother, the Stigmatine Fathers and Brothers have spread significantly in their Apostolic Mission – Italy, United States, Canada, England, Germany, Brazil, Chile, the Ivory Coast, South Africa, Tanzania and Thailand – conducting missions and retreats, teaching in schools, colleges and seminaries, promoting religious and priestly vocations.

Fr. Bertoni was beatified by Pope Paul VIth, at St. Peter’s in Rome, on November 1, 1975 [a Holy Year] – and exactly 14 years later, Fr. Bertoni was canonized by Pope John Paul II – and now, may rightfully be called “Saint Gaspar Bertoni”.

While not perfect, this spirit of his was entrusted to his Stigmatine community – we have received another life-long challenge, also from the Spiritual Diary. We still pray that God’s good work which has only begun in us will be completed in His Mercy! [cf. Ph 1:6]

We must make in ourselves a portrait of Jesus Christ… [Feb. 26, 1809]

A Stigmatine Calendar was compiled between 1966 – 1967 – under the direction of the late Fr. Gino Benaglia, CSS, based on St. Gaspar’s writings and spirit and our early history.

The parameters are 1777 – 1911, with the election of the first Fr. General in the 20th century, Very Rev. John B. Tomasi, CSS – whom I had the privilege to know during my student years in Rome [1952 – 1956]. I assisted at his last Holy Mass, which he was celebrating on the feast of St. John the Evangelist, December 27, 1953, right after Christmas. In prayer, I was present the night if his death, in early January 1954.

As will be evident to Stigmatines, the source material has been the Founder’s own Spiritual Diary – his Letters – and the early Chronicles of the Stigmatine Community – Fr. Lenotti’s 18-year Chronicle deserves a special mention.

In all my community studies, one fact above all has touched my heart: the Stigmatine Community has only experienced the Sacred Stigmata in its nearly 200 year history: the “Sorrowful” Good Friday aspect, ion the enormous sufferings the Community has endured – the many pre-mature losses of dear and competent men – and the failures of some apostolic resurrection, and the extraordinary commitment to the Apostolic Mission, living out in practice the words of Jesus on Easter night, when He manifested His Sacred Stigmata in the Cenacle room with this Apostolic Mandate: As the Father has sent me, I now send you! [cf. Jn 20:19, ff.]

Please come and join us for his Feast Day Mass on June 12, 2015 [Mass at 4:15 p.m., followed by Dinner] the 162nd anniversary of his death. This year it is also the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart.

Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director


Stigmatines – St. Joseph’s Hall
554 Lexington Street
Waltham MA 02452

April 19, 2015
3rd Sunday of Easter

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

As we are still in the “after-glow” of our celebration of the Stigmatine Titular Feast, honoring the glorious Stigmata of the Lord – and since it is rather late in the month, there will be no May meeting. Our next possible gathering may be like the one this past Friday, with an afternoon Mass at 4:15 – followed then by super. This is not definite yet, so further information will be forthcoming during the month of May.

In our faith, the Sacred Stigmata – or the Five Wounds that our Lord suffered on Calvary – are celebrated in their ”sorrowful” dimension, culminating in the thrust of the Roman soldier’s spear into the side of the dead Christ. In this commemoration, the usual reflection is on our copious redemption.

With the Gospel of Mercy Sunday, the Stigmatines celebrate the festival of their title on the Friday following, emphasizing the Apostolic Mission of the Risen Christ, as recorded in John: As the Father sent Me, I now send you…!

In the light of this, the Stigmatines celebrate the ‘integral’ Stigmata – one and the same set of wounds as found on the dying and dead body of Christ – as well as then being retained in the Risen Body of Christ: Luke mentions Jesus showing His hands and His feet – while John alone presents the hands and the sacred side of Christ.

In the life of St Gaspar Bertoni, there are many historical sources” for this understanding of Jesus Christ in the Stigmatine charism. One would be the small Church in Verona dedicated to the stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi where the Stigmatines were founded on November 4, 1816 – also the fact that St. Gaspar Himself preached on the “Grades of the Passion’, an old-time weekly devotion, emphasizing the wounds in Christ’s body. Furthermore, the Saintly Stigmatine Founder suffered all through his life with poor health – requiring, according to the medicine of the time, repeated lancing of infections in his legs. This inspiration behind all this was the lived hope: By His wounds, ours are healed…!

Please pray for our Stigmatine confrere, a Brazilian Bishop, + Antonio Alberto Guimarães Rezende, CSS, at the age of 89. May he rest in peace! Let us continue to pray for each other and for all the Church needs. [On Friday, June 12th of this year, St. Gaspar Bertoni and the Stigmatines will be featured in the Boston PILOT section on Religious Life.

Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director


Stigmatines – St. Joseph Hall
554 Lexington Street
Waltham MA 02452-3097

Palm Sunday
March 29, 2015

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

Many blessings for a new spring-time and a blessed Easter.  As we ponder  the mind and heart of St. Gaspar Bertoni,  let us ponder his Parish Sermon for the Second Sunday of Easter over 2 centuries ago [in those days called “Low” Sunday, April 5, 1807] – on “The Spiritual Life”:

 1305:       Having thus proposed the future resurrection, St. Paul requires another resurrection of us, a new institution in the present life, for the changing of our ways. When, in fact, … when an avaricious person becomes merciful, or a wrathful individual becomes meek, there takes place in these instances a resurrection which is the principle of the future… The former way of life is canceled, and the new and angelic way flourishes anew. Thus, we can say with St. ANSELM [1]: intemperance has died in such a person, and sobriety has risen up; …. On hearing “new life”, let each one seek out in himself much diversity, and great changes….

1312:       To cite still another example, CORNELIUS a LAPIDE  [2] relates the story of the Holy Count, Eleazar, immobile in his mountainous solitude, lived there a celibate life with his virgin wife, Delphina. She sent him letters to find out how he was getting along.  He responded: I am healthy of body and safe. If you wish to see me, look for me in the wound of the side of Christ. For it is there that I dwell, and here it will be easy to find me. You will search in vain in any other place.

      Do you see, my hearers, the just idea of a person risen with Christ? Could such a person even yearn for the lowly realities of this life? Could such a one seek for anything else in this life, other than the supernatural and heavenly goods, among which he will live eternally?

1313:       But, precisely this life of glory, in the hope of which we now glory, is much less known and seen by the world. Similarly, there is not seen the glorious life to which Christ has risen, and of which He lives in God, that is, near His Father. This is why St. Paul states [Col 3:3, ff.] that our life is hidden with Christ in God: …When Christ shall appear, who is your life [i.e., the cause of your life], then you shall also appear with Him in glory… [v. 4].    This is just like the pearl, says St. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, [3] whose end is hidden as it is in its shell.

1314:       Even more fitting is the example that St. AUGUSTINE [4] uses to explain this passage, that later St. ANSELM [100] would copy. In the bitter winter, even the green tree seems dry to the sight. As the summer approaches, the living root once again is  vested with fruit. This is our life, that is much like that winter, when the sun is further away from us and concealed behind the clouds. This sun for us is Christ.

1315:       We are much like the plants, dry on the outside, and without foliage, without honor, and without the appearance, or the luster of beauty. However, within we have living roots: charity, planted in God, as in a vital, stable, and living earth. The summer will appear, as the glory of Christ comes. And the plants will be seen to come to life again, rising up, and once more give their fruits and vital foliage. There will be the glorious traits of beatitude, both in the spirit as well as in the flesh. Come on now, exclaims  St. AUGUSTINE [104], come now, most sweet Jesus, that this pact with You be a firm one for me: that I might die totally to myself so that You alone might dwell within me. Within, totally in recollection, I will keep silence, so that You alone might speak in me. I will be totally at repose, so that You alone might work in me. The Apostle cries out: … And I live now, not I; but Christ lives in me… [Ga 2:20].

1316:       And in another place: … But our conversation is in heaven… [Ph 3:20].  And: … But you are not in the flesh.. [Rm 8:9].  And again: … having a desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ … [Ph 1:23].   These are some of the sublime affections of a person dead to sin, one who no longer has a taste for the things of this earth. These are the sublime feelings of a spirit living hidden together with Christ in God. Such a person seeks only the superior realities, those that are of heaven, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God [Col 3:1]. These are the sweet transports of a heart ravished by the sweet joy of these holy thoughts….

1322:      … To heaven, to eternal life, to heaven, you have been called. You are already well along your way, and moving along with giant steps. Follow through to the goal, to your heavenly home. You have been enrolled by God for an eternity to be the citizens of heaven, domestics, heirs of God. Upward, then, with all vigor, with all your strength, hurry onward, hasten your steps. The saints await you, already sure as they are of their happiness and solicitous also for yours. Christ awaits you, and has already prepared a place for you – rather, a throne. Why do you hesitate, why to look anymore to earth, to heaven, to heaven!  If you have risen with Christ…

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             Let us continue to pray for the Church, the Stigmatines and all trying to build a spiritual life in the hope-filled faith that if we have indeed risen with Christ, let our thoughts be above! As we pray in every celebration of the Eucharist: Lift up your hearts!

For those of you who can come, please join us for the Mass in honor of the Stigmata, April 17th at 4:30 – with supper following. We will be in touch regarding subsequent meetings.

Sincerely yours in the Healing Wounds of Christ,

Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director


[1] Cited by Cornelius a Lapide, Col 3:3.
[2] Col 3:3.
[3] In Epist. Ad Col.  Hom 7, 2 [t. 11, p. 227/2 D].
[4] cf. De Script. Vet. et Nov., Test., Serm. 36, 4. [t. 5/1, pp. 176 G, ff.].


Stigmatines – St. Joseph’s Hall
554 Lexington Street
Waltham MA 02452-3097

 February 18, 2015

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

A blessed Lent to you all! Due to our severe winter, we really have not had much contact since our gathering [for those who could make it!] for the Mass and supper on the 199th anniversary of the foundation of the Stigmatines, November 4th [1816 – next year is the second centenary].

In this period as well, two members of our Province died, known to most of you: Fr. Henry J. Linse, CSS – who died at the age of 95 [pre-deceased by his brother, Fr. George Linse, CSS, who died also in January over 2 decades ago] –and Fr. Joseph Connolly, CSS – who died three weeks later, February 6th, 2015, at the age of 84. Please pray for them and for those who mourn them.

It has been decided that we will not have a March meeting –hoping that much of this snow will melt [!]. This means our next gathering will be for Mass and supper on the Feast of the Stigmata, which is celebrated on the Friday following Mercy Sunday. So, the Feast of the Stigmata will be celebrated this year on April 17th – and as the festivity approaches, you will be informed by letter inviting you, regarding the time of Mass and supper.

As we endure here in New England the rigors of one of our most severe winters on record, we might do well to ponder the life of our saintly Founder, Fr. Gaspar Bertoni. So much of his life, he spent as an invalid, confined to his room – and mostly to his armchair and bed. Perhaps with the many spiritual masters who see that holiness is much associated with deadening routine, and involuntary limitation to free movement, due to age and illness with which none of us is totally unfamiliar! If this is our own present personal lot, let us associate ourselves to that wonderful idea of St. Paul that we are being invited [as was St. Gaspar!] to make of our lives an oblation to the Mercy of God [cf. Rm 12:1] – and with St. Peter who invites us all to join our sacrifices to that one sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

A blessed Lent to you all – let us pray for each other, and the Stigmatines’ Apostolic Mission in the Church, and also our own! God bless you all – hope to see you on April 17th for the Feast of the Sacred Stigmata.

Very sincerely yours,

 Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director