1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein, IL 60060
To: Stigmatine Lay Member
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