REV. JAMES CUNNINGHAM, CSS IS CALLED BACK TO FATHER’S HOME

Father Jim Cunningham, CSS

December 21, 1919              + January 22, 2016

My husband, Vicente, and I had the opportunity of meeting Father Jim Cunningham in the year of 2004, almost 12 years ago, when visiting the Stigmatine community in Waltham, MA. For all the times I had the opportunity of being with him, I had a clear understanding that I was with a Saint, that had just come down from heaven.He used to give a blessing to whoever he met during the day, and tell each one words of love, peace and hope. He used to offer Mass and play accordion in nursing homes.

We had the opportunity of seeing him many other times, even though we don’t leave close to Waltham. Each time was a God’s gift to us.

Now, he is just called back home by our Heavenly Father. While we are already missing him, we know we have now a new intercessor in heaven.

May God rest you, dearest friend! Thank you for your loving presence among us on earth.

Photos:

 (All taken at the Stigmatine property in Waltham, MA)

Father Jim Cunningham on June 2004

 

Father Jim Cunningham on his 85th birthday, on December 21, 2004

 

Father Jim Cunningham on January 2005
Father Jim Cunningham on March 2006

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 an 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

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY – FOR JANUARY, 2016

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.

 

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY – FOR DECEMBER, 2015

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

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY – ON THE 2ND CENTENARY YEAR

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

CALLING THE STIGMATINE BICENTENARY

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY – FOR NOVEMBER, 2015

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

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY – FOR OCTOBER, 2015

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

Back from the 2nd International Meeting of Stigmatine Laity in Brazil

Waltham, MA, Sep. 3, 2015

Hi, everyone,

We had a WONDERFUL time!!
We were told at the opening of the conference that it would be “Bertonian Immersion” – which it truly was.

There were:

1) excellent presentations by priests and novices on Bertonian history, prayer and spirituality – and

2)  presentations from each of the 11 countries on the Lay Associates in each country (startup, current formation, activities etc

3) a field trip to Casa Branca for the grand tour, wonderful dinner, and a novena Mass…. a two hour liturgy that was breathtaking.

4). morning prayer in the chapel every morning before breakfast

5) daily Mass in the chapel every day before supper

6) wonderful food

7) wonderful accommodations (they ended up putting the three of us in the Provincial House – Fr. Nelton was in the Provincial room/office – John across from him – Ruthie and I were across from Br. Joseph’s room (he was away during this time – we met him only the last day)

8) and several evening ‘entertainments’ put on by those of with enough talent to do so. (the American delegation decided to stay in the audience!)

Everyone was very friendly…. people remembered Fr. Henchey, Tereza and Vicente…

There were 11 countries represented: Brazil, Paraguay, Chile, USA, Italy, Thailand, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Botswana, South Africa, Philippines & American. Thank God for the last seven I mentioned….. our common language was English so we got to know each other well. John knew several of the 4 Thai people (I had met one once) & some Filipinos –  and three of the South Africa folk had been our bosom buddies five years ago in Verona (Fr. Daniel had taken us English speaking – after the conference  – on that grand tour of Italy for a week.)

We were graced with another blessing: immersion in the Brazilian culture… because of assorting scheduling changes we ended up as the first arrivals and last to leave – therefore – at both ends, we were ‘one of the family’ ie eating our meals in the kitchen with Fr.

Nelton, the novices, the farm workers and female staff. (good sign language was the order of the day!)

Another blessing was that we were rested when the conference started, and then had some time at the other end to reflect on all that we’d experienced and learned.

I was amazed at the beauty of the complex – and how wondrously they’d designed it to ‘bring the outside to the indoors – and vice versa’ so that one lived enjoying nature and construction working in harmony… very impressive…

Ruthie was entranced by the parade of the cows who marched past our windows every morning, returned every night and sometimes grazed just yards away… then there were the beautiful birds…and, of course, the great kindness of every person at the complex – and the wonderful, wonderful food.

The trip down was without incident – and the long leg from Miami to Capison was only 1/3 full we could stretch out to sleep.

The return trip, however, was 25 hours. The plane was more crowded, we were delayed on the Tarmac by mechanical issues for three hours – missed our connection in Miami, etc etc…However, we praise and thank God for everything in every circumstance (I Th 5:17…. first principle of the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius….and certainly the attitude of St. Gaspar! )

Oh, and yes, both busts of St. Gaspar arrived intact!

It was a great privilege to have been part of Stigmatine family these many years and we thank you for this.

Page and Ruthie
(and I’m sure I speak for John)

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 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