Thought for the Day – 12 June – Tuesday of the Tenth week in Ordinary Time Year B – Today’s Gospel Matthew 5:13-16 and the Memorial of St Gaspar Bertoni C.S.S. (1777-1853)
“You are the salt of the earth.
You are the light of the world”
At about the time of the Mission, St Gaspar suffered a physical relapse and sickness continued as a constant companion until his death. Shortly after, on 27 July 1816, the “Stimmate”, a small private chapel, with several rooms attached, named after the Stigmata of St Francis, was bequeathed to a priest in Verona. Just a few months later, the Stimmate was given to Father Bertoni with the stipulation that he continue to teach the youth. Fr Bertoni and confreres, Fr Mariani and layman, Paul Zanolli move into the Stimmate on 4 November 1816 resolving, “never again to leave,” thus establishing the new religious community. Suspicion lingered about all religious groups after the French Revolution and the Napoleonic conquest of Verona but since the school was a very visible reason for the men to be together at the Stimmate, the authorities did not object. In 1833, Father Bertoni had 180 young people in his care. The Oratory, which remained quiet during the period of repression, flowered into a beautiful movement blossoming admiration from visitors throughout Italy. It was a powerful instrument for God. Father Bertoni was asked regularly to pray and to intercede for the sick. Many people recovered for whom he prayed. He always acknowledged that thanks were due to the Madonna, or Saint Joseph, or St Zeno (patron of Verona).
Over the years following his first illness,Father Bertoni endured over 300 operations, all without anaesthesia, to lacerate leg ulcers and to remove gangrene which invaded his right leg. At age 61, St Gaspar was confined to his bedroom “between his bed and wheelchair.” He spent the remaining 14 years of his life in that bare room with empty walls, adorned only by his beloved Crucifix.
By his every action, by his every word, St Gaspar lived every moment in the Light of Christ, sending the rays to all around him, in good and bad times, never ceasing to live the mission given to us all, to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world!
St Gaspar Bertoni, pray for us, that we may always strive to be salt and light, amen!