St. Gaspar Bertoni and Jesus Christ: Sources and Personal Reflections
Throughout his long life of almost 76 years, St. Gaspar Bertoni has left behind a written record of much of his activity: from his parish sermons of the first few years of his parish service, in his various preached retreats to priests and seminarians, his parish Missions, through his own spiritual Diary – and in his many letters that have come down to us: St. Gaspar often states that we have been redeemed through the Cross of Jesus Christ and have been justified in his resurrection. Many Stigmatines have understood this to be made manifest in the one mystery of the Sacred Stigmata of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in both its sorrowful and glorious aspects. This is a theological reflection on this one mystery.
St. Gaspar Bertoni: A Trinitarian Charism of Hope
From Fr. Bertoni’s writings, one can see that his beautiful devotion to the Most Blessed Trinity, seen through the Offertory, Consecration and Holy Communion of the Eucharist, translates itself into the Apostolic Mission of the Church. This is the Mission that Jesus received personally from His Father and shared with His Apostles. It is best expressed as a Holy Abandonment to God, and an Availability to the Church. In showing His Sacred Stigmata, sorrowfully received on Good Friday, in the Cenacle Room gloriously preserved in His Risen Body on Easter night, Jesus tells His Apostles of all time: As the Father sent me, I have sent you. [Cf. Jn 20:20, ff.]
|St. Gaspar Bertoni: A Trinitarian Charism of Hope - by Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS |
Jesus Christ: Icon of the Invisible God – St. Gaspar Bertoni: Model of Holy Abandonment
The use of the term model is familiar to artists, builders, and all trying to bring about something new and original. Fr. Bertoni’s ideal was Jesus Christ – that we should all make a portrait of Him in our own lives – that as it was said by Christ: whoever sees Me, sees the Father! St. Gaspar’s idea that w should so imitate Christ that we might serve as a representation of Him. It is like translating the word of God into our own lives by the way we live.
|Jesus Christ: Icon of the Invisible God - St. Gaspar Bertoni: Model of Holy Abandonment - Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS|
St. Gaspar Bertoni and the ‘ Depths’ of the Human Soul
St. Gaspar Bertoni’s idea of the Depths of the Soul in the spiritual life reflects an ancient tradition in the Church. One of the early tests from this tradition may be found in the second reading in the Liturgy of Hours for the commemoration of St. Augustine, a well-known citation. This classical text is as follows: “Late have I loved You, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved You! You were within me but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for You. In my unloveliness, I plunged into the lovely things which You created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from You; yet if they had not been in You, they would not be at all. You called, You shouted, and You broke through my deafness. You flashed, You shone, and You dispelled my blindness. You breathed Your fragrance on me; I drew in a breath and now I pant for You. I have tasted You. Now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me and I burned for Your peace…! [Confessions, Book 7, 10, 18]. Fr. Bertoni was deeply ‘touched’ by this tradition.
|St. Gaspar Bertoni and the "Depths" of the Human Soul - Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS|
The Ministry of the Word of God in St. Gaspar Bertoni: an Echo of St. Ignatius of Loyola
In a previous reflection on St. Gaspar Bertoni, we noted how he had chosen St. Ignatius of Loyola as the Model for his vocation [MP, July 31, 1808] – someone living a life similar to his won. This ideal may have found substance in the Greek philosopher Plato and how ‘ideas’ first ‘modeled’ reality. As an artist, like Michaelangelo, one might use a living ‘Model’ in order to make a portrait.
St. Gaspar wanted his way of life to paint a ‘Portrait of Jesus Christ” [cf. MP, Feb 2, 1809] in our own lives In the area of Exemplarity, the Exemplary Cause [like Jesus’ Resurrection and our own], showers upon us a divine grace that comes into our lives to make this a reality.
The Image in use for our present reflection is that St. Ignatius was much inspired by the Ministry of God’s Word – and in the Mode of listening to this, St. Gaspar Bertoni proved to be a faithful ECHO of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
|The Ministry of the Word of God in St. Gaspar Bertoni: an Echo of St. Ignatius of Loyola - by Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS|
Holy Abandonment: the Fundamental Spirit of the Stigmatine Founder
The spirituality of Father Bertoni developed in an atmosphere of total abandonment into the hands of God, and total availability to the Church. The fundamental example of his daily life was Jesus Christ. Father Bertoni experienced this consciousness of his own nothingness resulting from the concept of creation: all was in the hands of God, having originally flowed from the Creator. From this basic attitude of faith, Father Bertoni gradually developed a very solid spiritual life, totally imbued with a reverential fear, or profound respect, tender love and confident hope.
|Holy Abandonment: the Fundamental Spirit of the Stigmatine Founder |
Reflections on the Stigmatine Apostolic Mission of Preaching
On the solemn feast of St. Gaspar Bertoni, June 12, 2015
it may be noted that in the NT there are four separate accounts of Jesus’ final Commissioning His Apostles in the light of His Passion and Death, Resurrection and Ascension [cf. Mt 28; Mk 16; Lk 24; Jn 20]. In the accounts of both Luke and John, the Apostolic Commission is bestowed personally by Christ in the light of His Sacred Stigmata – in Luke, the emphasis is on the hands and the feet and in John, the Stigmata are presented as the hands and the sacred side.
|Reflections of the Stigmatine Apostolic Mission of Preaching - by Fr. Joseph Henchey |
St. Gaspar Bertoni: A Creative Synthesis of Realism and Hope
Fr. Bertoni’s devotions in his lifetime were prayed, celebrated and lived. Looking at the long years that he spent confined to his room, in his arm-chair or in his bed, he looked upon his sufferings as being ‘nailed’ to his Cross, and that he was ‘wounded’ but not dead. He continued to exercise his ministry as a preacher of the Stigmata – and offering directed retreats. He looked forward to a Holy Espousals in heaven within the most Blessed Trinity. These insights are present in his reflections also to priests and religious.
|St. Gaspar Bertoni: A Creative Synthesis of Realism and Hope |
St. Gaspar Bertoni: A Prophetic Balance Between Cross and Resurrection
In the time of St. Gaspar, it was customary to emphasize only one aspect of the integral Paschal Mystery, and that was its ‘sorrowful’ aspect. Fr. Bertoni manifested a prophetic balance of the integral Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ, both its sorrowful aspect as well as our justification through His Resurrection [cf. Rm 4:25].
|St. Gaspar Bertoni: A Prophetic Balance between Cross and Resurrection |
|São Gaspar Bertoni: Um Balanço Profético entre Cruz e Ressurreição . Tradução para a língua Portuguesa por Tereza Lopes, leiga Estigmatina.