Fr. Bertoni took up residence at the Stimmate on Nov 4, 1816. Twenty-five years later he describes in one of his letters to Fr. Louis Bragato, the Royal Court Chaplain in Vienna, his work of writing the Constitutions – due to ill health, these were never completed. But, they do codify Fr. Bertoni’s lived experience with his early confreres. The work is based on the Constitutions of St. Ignatius of Loyola, especially as interpreted by the great Jesuit theologian, Fr. Francis Suarez, in his work De Religione Societatis Iesu.
The Original Constitutions of St. Gaspar Bertoni
Studies on the Original Constitutions
By Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS
These studies provide a commentary on the 314 Original Constitutions of St. Gaspar – especially regarding their sources. The first document is an introduction (Historical Study) and the second one is about the first eight Constitutions handwritten by Fr. Bertoni (entitled: Compendium Rude), which offer guidelines for the rest of the Plan of the Constitutions, particularly for the ‘heart’ of the Stigmatine life, with the focus on the Apostolic Mission (Part IX).
|Presentation and Table of Contents|
|General Introduction: A Historical Study on the Charism of St. Gaspar Bertoni|
|Compendium Rude [CF ## 1 - 8]|
|Parts 1 - 8 [CF ## 9 - 157]|
|Part 9 [CF ## 158 - 186]|
|Parts 10 - 12 [CF ## 187 - 314]|
Early General Chapters
English translation by Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS
The supreme authority in religious communities is invested in the periodic gathering of the Confreres, charged with the responsibility of reviewing their life and legislation and to elect the leadership. There follows here the actual Minutes of the first 18 such General Chapters [1871-1911] – as a means of understanding the Stigmatine life from its origins with Fr. Bertoni.
|Early Stigmatine General Chapters. Chapters ## 1 - 18 [1871 - 1911]|
|A Reflection on Some Early Stigmatine General Chapters on the Foreign Missions and on the Choice of Ministries|
|Early Juridical Formulations of the Stigmatine Constitutions|
Father John Baptist Lenotti, Stigmatine
He was trained personally by Fr. Bertoni, and was named the first Novice Master in our history. There is offered here a translation of his Conferences on Fr. Bertoni’s Original Constitutions.
|Fr. John Baptist Lenotti, CSS: Conferences on the Founder's Original Constitutions|
The Great Theologians and their influence on
St. Gaspar Bertoni’s Charism and Original Constitutions
Saint Thomas Aquinas and St. Ignatius of Loyola
In the gradual formulation of his charism, St. Gaspar Bertoni [1777-+1853 – Founder of the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata of Our Lord Jesus Christ, canonized on November 1, 1989], the words ‘in obsequium’ are used most often. His charism might be described as “Abandonment to God, Availability to the Church”. Much influenced by St. Ignatius of Loyola, Fr. Bertoni also received deep insights for his spirituality from the Angelic Doctor, as well as from the Word of God.
|The Influence of St. Thomas Aquinas in St. Gaspar Bertoni's Charism|
St. Gaspar Bertoni’s second Constitution [CF # 2] speaks of the Missionary Manner of Serving the Church. To present this Constitution, the Saint quoted a Document from the Congregation of the Propagation of the faith in Rome, naming him an ‘Apostolic Missionary’. In the brief Paragraph that he quoted [perhaps imitating St. Ignatius in his introductory ‘Formula’ where he quotes documents from the Holy See approving the Jesuits and their basic Apostolic Mission], St. Gaspar repeats words and phrases to explain his initial Constitution which reads: ‘Apostolic Missionaries for the Assistance [Service] of Bishops. This ‘Apostolic Service’ is then presented in CF # 2 by emphasizing words and phrases describing aspects of Church obedience that present the Stigmatine: ‘Abandonment to God and Availability to the Church’.
|St. Gaspar Bertoni: Cemtral Ignatian Ideals in our Original Constitutions|
St. Gaspar Bertoni was much imbued with St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Ignatius of Loyola. From them, and Rm 12:1, ff. [make of your lives an oblation to the merciful God…] the manner of achieving this is found in his Original Constitution, # 2. Fr. Bertoni’s Mode for the service of God through the Church is to heed the bishops [cf. CF # 185] in loving obedience in their varied and changing needs. This Homily preached on the Solemnity of St. Gaspar [June 12, 2009] at a Mass celebrated by the priests of the Holy Espousals Province in Waltham MA +Bishop Richard Garcia, Ordinary of Monterey, and friend of the community, was the principal celebrant. The idea is that by an analogical process, we might see the Beatitudes preached by Jesus Christ [cf. Mt 5], serve as the Manner of living the Commandments – these Beatitudes represent the heart of Jesus’ preaching [cf. CCC # 1716].
|St. Gaspar Bertoni: His Mode of Serving the Church |
Fathers Nadal and Suárez, Jesuits
A Brief Presentation: Fr. Jerome Nadal, SJ, whose name is rendered in Latin as Hieronymus Natalis, [1507-1580], was a well-known personality in the early History of the Society of Jesus. Five full substantial volumes are dedicated to his writings of Conferences in the well known Series, Momumentis Historicis Societatis Iesu.
The effort here will be to present the corner-stones of the Jesuit Constitutions as these were understood first by Fr. Jerome Nadal, and later, by Fr. Francis Suárez [1548-1612] [De Religione Societatis Iesu], who wrote under the leadership of the long-time Superior General [February 19, 1581–January 31, 1615], Fr. Claudio Acquaviva, a generation or so later. As will be seen, Fr. Suarez’ work is a most orderly apologetic, more defensive reflection on the Jesuit Constitutions, defending this ‘new’ way of life in the Church, which had found opposition even in high Church circles. For example, the Fourth Vow of special obedience to the Roman Pontiff – was not understood as something unique in that in faith, all believers are placed under the magisterial and spiritual direction of the Vicar of Christ.
Then, the applications will be made regarding these Jesuit theological and spiritual interpreters of the Rule of St. Ignatius – as this appealed to Fr. Gaspar Bertoni, Stigmatine Founder. In the booklet of the Stigmatine Founder’s Rule, prepared during the Holy Year of 1950, Fr. Joseph Stofella has noted that a large majority of the Original Constitutions come from Fr. Francis Suarez, SJ – and many of these, verbatim.
|The Special Grace of this Arduous and Difficult Vocation. The Obsequium Romani Pontificis and the Finis/ Scopus/ Media in the Apostolic Mission.|
|The Influence of Father Francisco Suárez, SJ in the Charism of Father Gaspar Bertoni|
Apostolic Mission and Obedience
Biblical and Theological Reflections on
St. Gaspar Bertoni’s Apostolic Mission
Fr. Bertoni’s Apostolic Mission may be understood as:
Apostolic: basically, St. Gaspar Bertoni – like so many other Founders/Foundresses of religious Community, maintained the ideal of the early Church as his model. The Apostolic Circle, around Jesus Christ, being in union with Him, continuing His work after His Resurrection, as we can find on Mk 3:13, ff and Jn 20:20, ff.
Mission: the old philosophical principle was that all goodness is diffusive of itself. Theology could apply this principle to Creation, Redemption and Sanctification – to the Church, to the Sacraments. It can be applied to the Mystery of the Trinity, and to the Personal Mission of Jesus Christ. This became the Mission of the Apostles – it is that of continuing the Personal Mission that Jesus received from His Father, in the Holy Spirit, in a particular modality, manner, as we can find on Jn 3:16, ff; Jn 10:36, ff; Jn 13:20, ff; Jn 14:24, ff and Jn 15:26, ff.
|St. Gaspar Bertoni: Biblical and Theological Reflections on his Apostolic Mission|
St. Gaspar Bertoni’s Ecclesial Service:
Community, Corporate, Domestic Obedience
and Apostolic, Missionary, Doctrinal Obedience [In Obsequium]
[CF 2; 138-151; 158-186]
St. Gaspar Bertoni has been described as a Model of Holy Abandonment, in his life-long effort to live the Petition from the Lord’s Prayer: THY WILL BE DONE! The Stigmatine Service of God and the Church is the codification, his realization of Abandonment to God, Availability to the Church, in a life-long vocation of carrying out God’s will in the Apostolic Mission for the Assistance of Bishops on various levels. The codification of all this is found in his Original Constitutions. In CF # 1, St. Gaspar seems to have quoted Rm 12:1, ff.: Make of your lives and oblation [obsequium] to God’s Mercy. For St. Gaspar, this meant Corporate Obedience [cf. Part VI, Section, IV, CF ## 138-151], within the Stigmatine Community [with its three levels: Execution; Obedience of Will; and Obedience of Intellect]; Missionary Obedience; and Doctrinal Obedience [cf. DV # 5; LG # 25].
|St. Gaspar Bertoni's Ecclesial Service: Community, Corporate, Domestic Obedience and Apostolic, Misisonary, Doctrinal Obedience [In Obsequium]|
Increased Understanding of Sacred Scripture –Development of Dogma and
the Multi-faceted Ideal of PROGRESS in the Founder’s Charism
|St. Gaspar Bertoni: An Analogy: Increased Understanding of Sacred Scripture - Development of Dogma and the Multi-faceted Idea of Progress in the Founder's Charism - by Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS |
The following is an attempt to compare the development of understanding the Divine Word leading to an increasing understanding of it in the Church – to St. Gaspar Bertoni’s developing grasp of his own charism. Throughout his Original Constitutions, there is not only an entire Part dedicated to” Progress” but he seems to extend this ideal spiritually, intellectually, juridically and apostolically – to the utmost development of the Apostolic Mission, Any Ministry of the Word of God whatsoever – anywhere in the Diocese and the world – gratuitously.
Commission for the Original Constitutions
St. Gaspar Bertoni had actually lived the early Stigmatine life with his companions from 1816-1840, before he ever wrote the Original Constitutions. Those last years of his life, the Saintly Stigmatine Founder was most confined to his room, and often to his bed, due to his deteriorating health. As a result, even though this little document of the written Rule of Life was the fruit of much serious prayer and long experience, it was left incomplete under a variety of aspects. One of the challenges that the Stigmatines have faced is one of interpretation of what is the manner of being an Apostolic Missionary at the Service of Bishops – an ideal taken also from Rm 12:1, ff.: make of your lives an oblation to God’s Mercy. An inter-Province Commission studied the matter in some depth – and the Commission Document presented here [known as Convergenze in Italian – or, Agreement in English] is the end-result of that meeting of serious study together.
|Commission for the Original Constitutions of the Founder: Points of Agreement|