Category Archives: Stigmatine Laity

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY – FOR AUGUST, 2016

Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060

July 22, 2016
In Celebration of the New Feast
of St. Mary Magdalene!

Dear Stigmatine Laity,

On this date, July 22nd, 2016, for the first time, the Liturgical commemoration in this Year of Mercy, of St. Mary Magdalene has been raised to the level of a liturgical “feast’.  This converted sinner was the fist one to be informed by the Lord Himself that He had risen unto the remission of our sins [Rm 4:25], and that she was to communicate that Good News with the Church – of which she was a privileged member, due to her unique presence as part of the “Christological Constellation” of New Testament saints, drawn ever toward the center of gravity, the Merciful Redeemer.  She was personally chosen for a Mission of Mercy and Hope by the Lord Himself – as He had first risen in her heart by her conversion and informed her before anyone else.

And once again, this is a date vitally meaningful for me personally – as, on this date 60 years ago, I celebrated my First Solemn Mass at St Anthony’s Church in North Woburn MA. My own vocation and that of several of my  contemporaries – [3 of us of those years who served  as altar boys there are still serving as active priests!] – were one of the visible results, it seems to me, – of the challenging priestly ministry of some wonderful parish priests assigned there over the late war  years  of the 1940’s, of our growing up there in that parish. [Hoping that I am not “over-doing it” in observing personal memories and anniversaries, the Stigmatine priesthood has been a great gift to me!  My only reason for my many observances of all these anniversaries is a request for your continuing kind prayers for me!].

As these wonderful memories succeed one another, I am reminded of the Stigmatine Vocation in itself.  As I am reminded of my first coming to the community – and the gradual understanding taught to me of the inspiring  elements  of  St. Gaspar Bertoni’s wonderful ideal of the merciful  Apostolic Mission for the Assistance service] of Bishops.  As we all strive to appreciate more this great gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church, I have been much inspired in recent months by a yet unpublished biography of St. Gaspar, a thoroughly researched document, now awaiting publication in Italy, written by a renowned Professor Ruggero Simonato – he is not a Stigmatine but one much inspired by St. Gaspar!  His work is entitled:  With Meekness and Joy – A Profile of Gaspar Bertoni. A Man of Counsel. In this voluminous manuscript, Professor Simonato offers well over 10 pages dedicated to the theme: ’Along the Challenging Path of a Common Life: (the writing of) the Constitutions’ by St. Gaspar.

Professor Simonato points out that for anyone reading the Original Constitutions of St. Gaspar, it would immediately become evident  that this work is truly a tight web of sublime citations, an analytical mosaic of inspiration,  summarizing the  teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Alphonsus Liguori. From Stigmatine sources we know that Fr. Bertoni wrote these 315 Constitutions during the last phase of his life, culminating a lived a community experience of nearly 25 years of Stigmatine life together with his companions. This small booklet bears much study and prayer for us, as it is a compendium of a life of atrocious physical suffering and his undying hope in Gods healing mercy.

In his rather  long life of 76 years – 37 years of which were  in the Stigmatine community – for so much of this time,  he was a quiet inspiration behind a wide  variety  of competent   apostolates – beginning with teaching school, preparing the way for the word of God in the hearts of the many poor student who came  – also in preparing future priests and religious – assisting the bishops through a very broad, but qualified ministry of the Word of God, these early were much dedicated  in  inspiring children toward their responsible presence in the future Church. Among these, was a young John Lenotti [the future second Superior General of the Stigmatines    – trained personally and with much loving care, by his Founder.  Jesus’ words’ and his challenging words found now in the Stigmatine Coat of Arms are Euntes Docete in the Last chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, this is Jesus’ Apostolic Missionary Discourse after His Resurrectiongo forth and communicate God’s word!  All of this was geared toward drawing in one’s own life a portrait of Jesus Christ.

When it came to providing a description of the ‘content’ of the Apostolic Mission, Professor Simonato notes [Foot=note # 1177] that there have been two opinions: that of Fr. Marani who saw in his time the need  to emphasize more the preaching of Parish Missions –  while  Fr. Lenotti [the first Novice Master after St. Gaspar himself], in his discourses to future  Stigmatines,  broadened the range of the Apostolic Mission in the light of St. Gaspar’s own use of a phrase taken verbally from the Formula of St. Ignatius of Loyola: Quodcumque Verbi Dei Ministerium .. quocumque in diocese et mundo [“any ministry of the word of God whatsoever,  and anywhere in the diocese and world”].

Professor Simonato’s summary of all this is his view that in the final analysis, Fr. Gaspar’s Original Constitutions were meant to provide the spiritual substance of St. Gaspar’s modus vivendi, way of life, in the following an evangelical Model – rather than being a juridical booklet that was specify its activities in a fixed manner. St. Gaspar emphasized the on-going interior spiritual formation and conversion typical of a committed Follower of Jesus Christ, ever open, docile and “abandoned” to the most abundant inspirations of the Holy Spirit. In St. Gaspar’s Original Constitutions, in this booklet was drawn out for the adherents the main points involved in this manner of living, its “spirituality’.

In the Stigmatine document for this month (enclosed), I will offer my own much studied  reflections on St. Gaspar’s development of the “Apostolic Mission” in the Introductory section – followed by a fresh approach of the same [in Italian] offered by Fr. Bruno Facciotti, present Vicar General of the Stigmatines. Let us pray for and with one another – through the intercession of St. Gaspar Bertoni – and of St. Mary Magdalene – for our deeper commitment to the Mercy of God in our own acceptance of God’s will.

Sincerely yours in the Mercy of God,

Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director

 

Appendices:
Compendium Rude – study by Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Compendium Rude – study by Rev. Bruno Facciotti, CSS (in Italian)

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY – FOR JULY, 2016

Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060

June 29, 2016
Solemnity of St. Peter and Paul, Apostles

Dear Sigmatine Laity,

Solemnity of St. Peter and Paul, Apostles

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

With the coming of the month July, there is a great sense of gratitude in my heart for 60 years as a Stigmatine Priest, which I celebrate on July 1st – remembering ordination day, of long ago in Rome on July 1, 1956.

Far more importantly, though, July is the month that St. Gaspar Bertoni began his own Spiritual Diary.  As a record of his earlier life and thoughts, his parish sermons make known to us those first years of his priesthood [he was ordained September 20, 1800] – whereas his Diary manifests to us his extraordinary graces inspiring his thoughts and ideals for that time just prior to his foundation of the Stigmatines, which happened 200 hundred years ago this coming November 4th [1816]. His diary covers those years [1808-1813] immediately preceding his coming to found the Stigmatine Congregation.

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His Spiritual Diary opens with these thoughts:

2nd JULY 1808

[2.]           Feast of the Sacred Heart. During Mass, at Consecration, at Communion and throughout the whole thanksgiving time, many tears of compunction and affection. In particular, during Communion, I felt for a moment as if my spirit was snatched away from all creatures, at the service [1] of its Creator.

[The Commentary of the Stigmatine historian, the late Fr. Joseph Stofella, follows];

The Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was introduced in 1765 and quickly adopted in Venice and in the Venetian Republic. In 1808 it was celebrated on the 2nd of July because on its established day, namely Friday 24th of June, the liturgical calendar required the celebration of the Feast of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. On this July 2nd, the Church was within the Octave of the Holy Apostles Sts. Peter and Paul.  On July 2nd, there was also observed the Feast of the Visitation of Mary Most Holy to St. Elizabeth.

All of this in no way lessens our interest in the fact that, in his entry on this Feast of the Sacred Heart, we have the first indication of some characteristic mystical gifts which God was going to grant to Fr Bertoni[2].  If we may say, here one sees what theologians call Piety as a gift of the Spirit[3]. Hence, the many tears of compunction and affection.  Compunction is intended here as a blend of spiritual illumination and a consequent feeling of one’s own inadequacy in front of the divine. What stands out here is that gift of the spirit snatched away from all creatures, at the service [obsequium] of its Creator. To this experience, Father Gaspar had contributed also by his own spiritual attitude[4].

St. John of the Cross teaches that “the soul cannot receive the light of divine union unless it first rejects affection for creatures”.  He also teaches that “every soul who wishes to climb the mountain of the Lord in order to make of himself an altar for the offering of pure love, of praise and service [ossequio], should have already fulfilled three conditions. The first is that it rejects from itself all affections and desires which are foreign to God. The second is that it should purify itself from the consequences of those affections which still remain by continually denying them and doing penance. The third condition is that it should change habits: only then the Lord himself will clothe it anew. Through such divine favor, the soul will finally be free from the old tastes and desires of the earthly man and will receive a new knowledge of God[5].

Fr. Bertoni had admired the detachment from all created things in the patron Saint of his priesthood, namely Saint Ignatius of Loyola – and certainly for the reason of imitating him. He had copied the following extract from his Life: “Ignatius’ heart was entirely detached from all created things which he loved only in God, while loving God in them. He used to say that:

… these are the true attitudes of those who leave the world for Christ: to forget as much as possible the things of the earth in order to better keep in mind those of heaven[6]

Fr. Bertoni’s entire Journal is permeated by this spirit of total detachment.

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Another very important entry made during this month of July is this following text, from the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, July 31, 1808:

30th JULY 1808

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

“It is worthwhile to consider the method of Fr Bertoni in his daily Examination of Conscience. It is not surprising that during these examinations he sometimes was given remarkable gifts and graces. We have an example on 27 October 1808 when he wrote:

In the first point of the Midday Examen, i.e. the thanksgiving, while prostrated on the floor in the sight of Heaven, I felt a deep sense of the divine presence with love and self-offering

This maxim of Fr. Gaspar provides an insight into what should be every examen of conscience for one called to perfection.

Fr. Bertoni had chosen St Ignatius of Loyola as a model for his priestly vocation. He will tell us expressly in this JOURNAL on 15 Sept. The first biographer, Fr Giacobbe, wrote that Fr Bertoni admired and studied much the works and virtues of St Ignatius, and had reproduced them very faithfully. [7]  In fact, Fr Gaspar studied the Life of St Ignatius directly of at least four authors, i.e. Fr John Peter Maffei, Fr Peter Ribadeneira, Fr Daniel Bartoli and Fr Francis Mariani. Of the handwritten extracts from the four authors which we possess, several could be part of this Journal. They reveal not only admiration for the Saint, but also his endeavor to imitate him.

The original idea of modeling his life on that of a Saint could have come to Fr. Bertoni (after his boyhood practice of imitating Saint Aloysius Gonzaga), from the Imitation of Christ where he read: Look at the living examples of the Holy Fathers [8].  He found inspiration also in Fr. L. Scupoli’s Spiritual Combat:

… Compare your works with those of the Saints and other servants of God. In comparison with theirs, you will know that your best and greatest works are of very low quality and worth.  If you then compare them with those of Christ… (I am not talking on the side of his divinity, but purely as they have been humanly performed with sincerity and pure love)… you will see that yours are insignificant…  [9]

The Imitation of Christ and the classic of Scupoli appear as the first teachers of Fr. Bertoni.  We shall have a further proof in this “Journal.”

[18.]        To seek God alone. To see God in all things.  This is to make oneself superior to all human things.

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To commemorate these important texts, I submit for your reflection a rather lengthy meditation on St. Gaspar’s sources for the founding of the Stigmatines.  As we approach the actual date in  this second centenary year of the founding of  the community honoring the Sacred Stigmata of our Lord Jesus Christ, please pray with us as we seek to  renew St. Gaspar’ Missionary and Apostolic Spirit in the hearts of us all.

Respectfully submitted in St. Gaspar Bertoni,

Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS  
Acting Spiritual Director

 

Attached documents:

  • The Influence of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Ignatius Loyola in St. Gaspar Bertoni’s Charism: Missionarii Apostolici in OBSEQUIUM Episcoporum Abandonment to God, Availability to the Church. Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS, in the Solemn Feast of St. Gaspar Bertoni, 2016;
  • La Formula “In Obsequium” nel Linguagio di San Tommaso – Pe. Joseph Henchey, CSS, 1992.

Footnotes:

[1] Website [‘A Tribute to St. Gaspar Bertoni’ – www.st-bertoni.com – seção ‘Life & Spirituality’ – ‘A Trinitarian Charism of Hope’] Note: For the first time in this document, St. Gaspar uses the word ossequio [cf. obsequium, in: Rm 12:1, ff.] – one of Fr. Bertoni’s favorite words. Cf. ‘Published Studies’ under St. Gaspar Bertoni’s Trinitarian Charism of Hope,   on this Web-site.

[2]   Website Note [‘A Tribute to St. Gaspar Bertoni’ – www.st-bertoni.com – seção ‘Writings & Works – Memoriale Privato]:  Fr. Stofella notes that the Sacred Heart is also near Fr. Bertoni’s final entry in his Journal [cf. June 26, 1813].  He also noted a mystical grace,  his ecstasy regarding the Sacred Heart [on May 30, 1812]. For Fr. Bertoni, his devotion to the Sacred Heart often served as his vehicle for the presentation of his integral understanding of the Paschal Mystery – both its sorrowful aspects as well as its glorious dimensions. A few days after his May 30th, 1812 ecstasy, he  spoke on the Sacred Heart – emphasizing the wound in the side  retained in Christ’s Risen Body [cf. MssB 1755-1778] [cf. J. Henchey, ‘Una Speranza Missionaria formata ed expressa  nelle sue divozioni e nel suo servizio ecclesiale’, in: Symposium BertonianumVerona: Edizioni Stimmgraf 1990, pp.143-160. This idea is found:

  • in his parish sermons [cf. MssB ## 464; 475; 490;494; 517; 1300; 1305; 1308; 1312; 1314; 1315; 1317; 1318; 1322; 1759; 1771, , ff.;
  • in his Letters: MssB 9510; 9689; 9707;
  • in his preaching to priests and seminarians: MssB ## 2632; 2635; 2637; 2647. It is found often in Fr. Gaspar’s Meditations on Primum Regum, based on St. Gregory the Great: MssB ## 4899; 4957; 4984; 4991; 4999; 5094 and 9707 – among other texts.

The integral theme of the Paschal is found from his earliest written documents: his parish sermons up through his last letters to Fr. Bragato [cf. the same website, under ‘Life & Spirituality’ –  Stimmate Integre].

[3] Cf. Fr. Nello Dalle Vedove, Un Modello di S. Abbandono,   pp. 53, 186.

[4] Website (as quoted above) Note: there is offered a reflection on the Ignatian spirituality contained in the word obsequium – cf.  this web-site, Studies on St. Gaspar’s Compendium Rude.

[5] John of the Cross, The Ascent of Mount Carmel.  C. 4, 1; c. 5, 7.  Roma 1940: Ed. Opere, pp.17, 24, f.

[6] Mariani, Life…  Book 4, c. 2, pp. 337.

[7] Summarium Additionale Document 36, p. 456.

[8] Imitation of Christ,   Book I, c. 18.

[9] Spiritual Combat, c. 32.

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY – SOLEMNITY OF ST. GASPAR BERTONI, 2016

Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060

Corpus Domini 2016

Dear Sigmatine Laity,

With the wonderful celebrations of Easter, Pentecost and Trinity Sunday behind us now for another year, this day’s Feast summarizes and perpetuates – re-presents – all our celebrations – making the Paschal Mystery of Christ sacramentally renewed every day.  In so many ways, our lives, too, are meant to be Liturgical or “Eucharistic”:

  • Life is an Offertory made to the Mercy of God [Rm12:1]
  • Christ Consecrated Himself – and us – to come into this world [Jn 10:36; 17:19];
  • Christ is a Holy Communion with His Father and Us [cf. Jn 14:10].

When the Stigmatine historians write about St. Gaspar Bertoni and his spirituality, they note his very strong Christological dimension – as well as his Trinitarian perspective. This then seems to be unified under his Eucharistic devotion. It would suffice to read St. Gaspar’s own spiritual diary[1] to bear this out.

The late Fr. Cornelio Fabro, CSS [†May 4, 1995] clarified  another dimension, that is the educative  reality of years of suffering in his life that brought him closer to God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  This seems to have been for him a lived fulfillment of the Merciful High Priest in service of His Father: … Son though he was, Jesus learned obedience from what he suffered… [Heb 5:8].

St. Gaspar seemed to live this dictum quite well in his own decades-long experience with atrocious pain. Much of his priestly life [53 years] was offered in suffering. Confined for the most part “between his bed and arm chair”, he accepted his discomfort as the “School of God”.

When dark times come to us and our loved ones, we can find much comfort in the example of St. Gaspar and ask for his help in humble prayer. The late Stigmatine, Fr. Ignazio Bonetti [†March 10, 1998] wrote a very fine synopsis of the Founder’s spirituality[2], based perhaps on the idea of Cardinal Newman’s Grammar of Assent.  We offer this fundamental picture of our Founder’s spirit for our approaching Solemnity of St. Gaspar, this June 12, 2016. The best devotion is “imitation.”

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

Respectfully yours in St. Gaspar,

Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director

Appendix I:
ST. GASPAR BERTONI: SOME RUDIMENTS OF HIS SPIRITUAL WRITINGS
Edited by Rev. Ignazio Bonetti, CSS – 1993.
Original title: La Grammatica di Don Gaspare Bertoni.
English translation by Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS – 2005 [with latter revision in 2014].

Appendix II:
THE SPIRITUAL JOURNAL OF ST. GASPAR BERTONI
With a commentary by Fr. Giuseppe Stofella, CSS – 1962.
Original title: Memoriale Privato di Don Gaspare Bertoni.
English translation by Rev. Giancarlo Mittempergher – 1992.

Appendix III:
THE SPIRITUAL JOURNAL [MEMORIALE PRIVATO] OF ST. GASPAR BERTONI: A REFLECTION ON THE 200th ANNIVERSARY OF ITS INCEPTION
Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS – 2008.

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[1] Memoriale Privato di Don Gaspare Bertoni [Spiritual Journal of St. Gaspar Bertoni].

[2] La Grammatica di Don Gaspare Bertoni [St. Gaspar Bertoni: Some Rudiments of his Spiritual Writings].

ACCOUNT OF FABRO SYMPOSIUM

ACCOUNT ON FABRO SYMPOSIUM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Life totally for the Church

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

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

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

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

Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS

April 4, 2016


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

APPENDICES:

DOCUMENTS:

Fabro Symposium Presentation by Father Joseph Henchey, CSS

Fabro Trilogy – by Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS

PROGRAM:

FabroSymposium

EVENT PHOTOS:

Fabro podiumFabro Panel

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fabro Symposium Henchey

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY – SACRED STIGMATA, 2016

Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060

EASTER SUNDAY 2016
March 27

Very dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director

 

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

 

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

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

STIGMATA LETTER – En
STIGMATA FEAST – En

Translations:

Traduzione in Italiano (da Padre Giancarlo Mittempergher, CSS):
STIMMATE LETTERA – It
STIMMATE FESTA – It

Tradução em Português (por Tereza Lopes, leiga Estigmatina):
ESTIGMAS CARTA – PtBr
ESTIGMAS FESTA – PtBr

 

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY – EASTER, 2016

Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL     60060

Palm Sunday 2016
March 20

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

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

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

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

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

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

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

A blessed Easter to all!

Sincerely in the Healing Wounds of Christ,

Rev, Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Moderator

 

Appendix I:

SOME TITLES OF JESUS CHRIST: THE LAMB

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

EASTER LETTER, 2016

LETTERA DI PASQUA, 2016

CARTA PASCAL, 2016

 

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY – FOR MARCH, 2016

MUNDELEIN SEMINARY
1000 EAST MAPLE AVENUE
MUNDELEIN IL 60060

February 22, 2016
Chair of St. Peter

Very dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Father Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director

 

THIS ORIGINAL LETTER IN ENGLISH

APPENDIX I: THE INTEGRAL PASCHAL MYSTERY

LETTERA TRADOTTA IN ITALIANO

CARTA TRADUZIDA EM PORTUGUÊS

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY – FOR FEBRUARY, 2016

Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL     60060
jhenchey@gmail.com

Feast of Holy Espousals
January 23, 2016

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely in the Healing Wounds of Christ,

Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director

 SERMON_17