"...I am always on fire with love, and I always want to love more. I suffer, and never have enough of it."
What is it that caused Saint Gemma to have such a great desire to suffer? After all, sacrifice and suffering run completely contrary to our natural desires, even moreso that of the desires of an average person in their early twenties. The key to unlock this mystery lies in the words of Gemma herself-
"Two sentiments were born in my heart the very first time that I felt and saw Jesus dripping in blood. The first one was to love Him , and to love Him to the point of sacrifice....the other thing that was borne in my heart after seeing Jesus was a great desire to suffer something for Him, seeing how much He had suffered for me!.."
Thus, Gemma's desire to suffer for the love of Jesus came from the several occasions when Jesus appeared to her "covered with wounds and bleeding all over" as she writes in her Autobiography. Contemplating the Passion of Jesus, the horrible scorging that He endured, the three long hours that He hung painfully on the Cross, all for the love of us, to save us from our sins, caused in Gemma a burning desire to suffer and sacrifice in union with Him, and to take upon herself, as much as it were possible, a portion of Jesus' sufferings, so as to suffer for the One whom she loves with all her heart.
"...Oh Jesus, You tell me to embrace the Cross; where Jesus? Not anymore upon You [ the Cross] but from now on upon me. Oh Holy Cross, let me embrace you!" "...Often I hear Him cry, I feel Him afflicted, and He tells me He does this for sinners."
A lover will always do all she can to alleviate and remove what causes her loved one to suffer, and so we have Gemma saying:
"Oh! I have told you so many times, oh Lord: if my life does not end in seeing the suffering of someone who loves me so much, what other pain do You think could bring about my death? ...I told you it is enough, oh Lord, what you have suffered for me and for sinners. Yes, enough! ... My shoulders shall replace Yours in bearing the cross! ..."
Again Cecilia writes- "This is how they [the wounds] were disposed: two on one arm, from two to three inches long and very deep; two on one leg, round, and about the size of a florin; one near the middle of her breast in the direction of her throat; two very large oblong ones above the knee; one on each knee and elbow, almost laying bare the bone; one nearly round and very deep on each instep, and a long one on each shin. There were others that I could not see so well. At first they were, as I have said, in stripes; then they became deep gashes, and on being asked the reason for this, she answered: "First they were switchings, now they are scourgings."If you wish to form some idea of it, recall to mind the large Crucifix that we have in the house, before which Gemma was in the habit of praying; she was like that. The same livid marks, the same torn open gashes in the skin and flesh in the same parts of the body, equally long and deep and equally horrifying to behold. Blood came from her wounds in great abundance. When she was standing, it flowed to the ground, and when in bed it not only wet the sheets, but saturated the whole mattress. I measured some streams or pools of this blood, and they were from twenty to twenty-five inches long and about two inches wide.”
(Signed) Cecilia Giannini
For a more detailed description of what Gemma suffered out of love for Jesus and sinners click here
"Do not doubt" - she exclaims - "that your Gemma will follow You to Calvary....or who's voice is this that I so distinctively hear in my heart?... Yes, Jesus, I surrender to you my freedom, thus I become your slave for ever..."
"...Therefore Jesus do not abandon poor sinners. I am ready to do something. You died on the Cross; make me die also on the cross. They [sinners] are all your children... do not abandon them! Jesus, I want to save them all... am I not the one that must suffer for them? Therefore cast Your anger at me. You have so many sinners, but You have so few victims."
"Don't you know my Jesus? I told You that for the love of You I am ready for any sacrifice? Oh Jesus to love You and to suffer... I, Jesus, desire not to let You suffer anymore..."
Having thus considered the example of Gemma, are we too willing to suffer out of love for Jesus, in thanksgiving for all that He suffered for us? What are we willing to sacrifice for the love of God and the love of souls?