LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY – FOR SEPTEMBER, 2015

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 land mark 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

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