St Gemma’s desire and longing for heaven
In “The Life of Saint Gemma Galgani” Venerable Father Germanus writes- …”her [Gemma’s] only wish was to love God. ‘I wish to be all for Jesus and only for Jesus.’ she used to say. And again she would say:
‘What is there to love on this earth now that I posses Jesus? Oh world and creatures, all of you are no longer for me…’
“Once, when giving me an account of her progress, she wrote thus:
‘Yesterday morning, in a meeting that I had with my loving God, I asked Him to detach me from everything, to free me from my body, and having thus broken every bond, to let me go straight to Him, to Him only and forever.’
‘But’, Jesus answered me, ‘where would you fly to?’
‘To You my dear and sweet Lord!’
And Jesus replied: ‘Let Me come to you a little longer, and then, when I set you free, you shall come to Me.’
Concerning her last illness, Father Germanus writes "Before losing her eyesight, she used to read occasionally. Once her Aunt, seeing a book in her hand asked her 'What are you reading Gemma?'
Gemma replied 'I am reading the preparation for death. Oh Aunt, why don't you read it also, for you are getting old? As for myself in all things I am preparing for death.'
"But tell me Gemma", continued her Aunt, "do you not regret to die?"
'Oh no,' she answered, 'I no longer have any attachment to anything in this world.'
Father Germanus continues “Thus, life had become a weight and a pain to this dove. As she kept he heart turned towards heaven, she felt like a stranger who does not know anyone, and takes no interest in earthly things. Lets let her again speak for herself-
‘I live on this earth but I seem to dwell here like a soul who has lost it’s way, because never for a moment do I cease looking towards Jesus, apart from whom I despise all things.’
Thus wearied and unsatisfied, she counted the days like a pilgrim who longing to reach the desired land, from time to time, briefly looks back to see the distance done, and count the way remaining-
‘I greatly rejoice that time flies so quickly, because that means so much less time to spend in this world, where there is nothing to attract me. My heart goes incessantly in search of a treasure, an immense treasure that I do not find in creatures; a treasure that will satisfy me and console me, and give me rest.’
Likewise in ecstasy she was once overheard to say- 'Oh, who will give me wings that I may fly to Thee, my God? Give them to me....the wings of contemplation. How am I to fly to Thee? Break....break these chains that hinder me from flying to Thee..." and another occasion "I have such a great longing to fly away to my God!'
“Since earthly life was such a small concern to Gemma, it is no wonder that she was always so ready to give it away, as happens with valueless things. If anyone fell dangerously sick, you would see Gemma running to her spiritual director [Fr. Germanus, the author of these lines –editor] requesting to give that person one, two, three or four years of her life, saying to him-
‘You know Jesus will accept the exchange, provided that you Father approve of it.’
And, in order to get my consent, she used to bring forward certain arguments of her own, putting them with such persuasiveness that if I was not on my guard, I was in great danger of giving way”
‘Look Father’, she used to say, ‘it concerns the mother of a family with many children. Oh, what would these little one’s do without their mother?’ Let me tell Jesus about it. What difference can a few years less make to me?’
The same thing used to happen when she had the conversion of any sinner at heart, and she was always sure to have some in hand. She would say-
‘Jesus, I give you three years of my life. Convert him for me.’
That was the way she had of putting it. At last I allowed myself to be persuaded by her charitable and forceful eloquence. I gave the permission, and God accepted the exchange, and Gemma died exactly at the time agreed upon, in the richest bloom of her youth, and contrary to all human expectations."
"How much I love You, oh Jesus. I thank you; but why do You behave so lovingly while I offend You with such ingratitude? This thought alone should make me become a flame of love, if I could understand it well ... I love You, oh Jesus. What a fine love is mine, loving someone who does not get angry with those who offend Him ... Oh Jesus, if I were to consider attentively the great cares You show me, how I ought to excel in so many virtues!" -St Gemma Galgani