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

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