Words of Jesus to St Gemma -The reason for suffering and her share in the Sacred Passion
--Gemma's reply of love
Jesus says to Gemma: "When I shall be a spouse of blood to you, I will love you, but you must be as one crucified. Prove your love for Me as I have proved My love for you; and do you know how? -By suffering pains and crosses without number. You must consider yourself honoured when I treat you thus, and when I lead you through thorny and sorrowful paths. It is with My permission that the Devil torments you, that the world fills you with disgust, that the persons dearest to you cause you affliction. ... And you, My daughter, must think of only one thing during this time, that is, of exercising great virtues. Keep on the path of the Divine will, and humble yourself, and be convinced that if I nail you to the Cross, I love you."
"My daughter "-Jesus said to me- "if you truly love Me, you will love Me even in darkness. Embrace the Cross, My daughter, and be certain that whilst you are satisfying your desire of suffering you are satisfying My heart; and remember, the more bitter the Cross seems to your heart, the more agreeable it is to Mine."
And again Jesus has said to me: "Do you know why I desire to send crosses to the souls that are dear to Me? I desire to possess them entirely, and for that reason I surround them with crosses, and I shut them in with tribulations so that they may not escape out of My hands; for that reason I spread thorns everywhere so that giving their affections to no one they may seek all their pleasure in Me alone. My daughter, if the Cross was not felt, it could not be called a Cross. Be certain that if you stand beneath the Cross you will never be lost. The Devil has no power over those souls who weep near the Cross. My daughter, how many would have abandoned Me, if I had not crucified them. The Cross is a very precious gift, and many virtues can be learned through it."
And to this Gemma writes: ‘The Lord delights in playing with souls that are very dear to Him, but He plays with them because He loves them. Now He consoles them, now He allows them to become well esteemed by mankind, and afterwards He allows them to become a laughingstock to the world. At one time He makes them so courageous that Hell has no terrors for them, and at another time, He allows them to be frightened at the least thing. Whoever thinks that he is suffering, knows little; but whoever suffers and yet thinks that he suffers little or naught, is enlightened. Whoever is humiliated on earth, is in Heaven and on the Cross; whoever has the first place on earth, has the last before God. He who knows the Cross, desires it; he who does not know it, runs away from it.'
Gemma was meditating on and even living the Passion of Jesus Christ, and from this meditation she drew all her consolation. 'To meditate on Thy Passion, oh Jesus, has always been a great relief to holy souls.'
And this is how she wrote of the fruits she gathered from this meditation. 'Every day I make a meditation, but always on the Passion. If I did not do so, it would seem to me that Jesus would reprove me thus: "See, My daughter, here I am on the Cross, through love, a victim for your many faults. Consider well My sufferings, and then deny Me, if you can, the tender compassion that I deserve.'
[All the quotations in the following section have been taken from the “Lettere ed estasi di Santa Gemma”.]
‘When I see Jesus weep, my own heart is transfixed with sorrow; I think . . . I think how I have by my sins caused some of the oppression which Jesus suffered in the Garden. At that time Jesus saw all my sins, all my omissions, and besides, He saw the place I should have occupied in Hell, if Thy Heart, oh Jesus, had not granted me pardon.'
‘When I am looking at the Crucifix, it seems to me that Jesus turns to me with words of reproof and says: "If you allow yourself to sin you will crucify Me anew. Are not these sufferings enough?"Mia Dio! After these words could I hold out any longer? But Jesus turning to me, very pleased, added and repeated: "Love Me as much as you can, and I shall give you all that you desire. Love Me with all your heart and I shall forgive you all your sins."-Oh the infinite goodness of Jesus! All He asks of me is love! '
‘Many times I have asked Jesus to teach me the true way of loving Him, and then Jesus allows me to see all His open Wounds, and that He says: "Look, My daughter, look how I have suffered! Do you see this Cross, these nails, these thorns? They are the works of love. Look and learn how to love."
Again Jesus teaches Gemma the value of suffering:
“My child, you complain because I desire to keep you in the dark; but remember that after darkness comes light, and then you shall have light indeed. I put thee to this test for My greater glory, to give joy to the Angels, for your greater gain and also for example to others. If you really love Me, you ought to love Me even in the midst of darkness. I delight in and play with souls. I thus play through love. Be not afflicted if I begin to abandon thee. Do not think it chastisement. It is truly My own Will in order to detach you from creatures and unite you to Myself."
"When I appear to be far away then I am near at hand. Take courage, for after the battle comes peace. Fidelity and love must be your necessary weapons. For the present, therefore, be patient if I seem to leave you alone. Suffer, be resigned and be consoled. I am leading thee by rough and sorrowful ways, and you should consider yourself honoured when I treat you thus and when by a daily and hidden martyrdom I allow thy soul to be tried and purified. Think only for the present of how you are to practice great virtue."
"Make haste in the ways of divine love, humble thyself, and rest assured that if I keep you on the Cross, that I love you. Be not like some who, being attached to consolations and spiritual satisfactions, care but little for the Cross. Then, finding themselves in desolation of spirit, they shorten by degrees the time of prayer because they no longer find in it the consolations they had before experienced.” – Jesus to St. Gemma Galgani
The lessons which were taught in this school of love and suffering penetrated into the soul of the holy girl. The resolutions which she was thereby induced to make are among the most heroic that can be conceived, and the maxims she formulated almost divinely sublime.
‘I shall compensate Thee, oh Jesus, by treating myself as Thy slave, and by putting my shoulders under Thy Cross.'
‘Suffering will raise my spirits, and far from discouraging me will give me the strength necessary to correspond with Thy grace.'
‘Oh, how much I realize that by doing what the goodness of Jesus wills, every cross is changed into joy, suffering even becomes too pleasant! He has neither cross nor fear who is closely united with Jesus.'
‘My heart possesses Jesus and possessing Jesus I feel that I can smile even in the midst of so many tears. I feel, yes, I feel happy even in great suffering oh Jesus, whether Thou caresses me or strikes me, it is the same to me. Yea, when Thou dost strike me, I am all the more pleased, because it is really what I deserve.'
‘It ought not be that suffering should adapt itself to us, but we ought to adapt ourselves to suffering.'
‘Whoever loves Jesus has sufficient strength to suffer any cross whatsoever.'
‘Whoever truly loves, suffers gladly.'
‘The more a cross is contrary to my desires, the more it is like to Thine, oh Jesus.'
‘The masters of this world teach always with the voice, and You with suffering.'
‘Who knows how many would have abandoned Thee, if Thou had not held them to the Cross.'
‘ In loving it is Thou who delightest my soul, and in suffering it is I who delightest Thy Soul.'
'Why are you so afflicted, 0 my soul? You offend your Beloved if you do not embrace the Cross with gladness. If you do not send your thoughts to Calvary, you are not concerned about Paradise.'
‘Oh Jesus, You give crosses to those who love Thee! '
‘Oh Cross, when I am near thee I feel strong! '
'All my days are sown with crosses. Oh holy Cross, I have embraced thee! '
‘May my life be a continual sacrifice! May You increase my sufferings, my humiliations! '
‘If I had to live in the world without suffering I should say to Thee: "Let me rather die now. Either crucify my soul or make me die ! '
Upon hearing a cry like this-a cry that only the love of the Crucified could inspire, we shall now contemplate Gemma’s love for God:
TRANSPORTS OF LOVE FOR GOD
In a letter Gemma says- ‘Oh Passion of Christ! You Angels of Heaven, bow down with me in honour of the Passion of Jesus; together let us catch the Blood of Jesus! Passion of Jesus, I love Thee! Angels of Heaven, come, let us all adore the Passion of Jesus! '
‘How sweet and good Jesus is to me, in spite of my being so wicked! How shall I ever correspond with the mercy that Jesus shows me? What shall I give to Jesus in exchange for all the benefits He showers upon me?'
‘It is true, is it not, Jesus, that love is the best exchange for Thy gifts? And even I can love Thee. But I do not love Thee because of Thy gifts to me. I love Thee because Thou art my Jesus, I love Thee because Thou alone art worthy of being loved. I love Thee because Thou art good, because Thou hast promised, You have sworn never to abandon me....'
‘I love Thee because You are my benefactor, my preserver, because You consume my soul and make my soul divine. Because You are my Spouse, I seek Thee always, I seek Thy affection, Thy friendship, Thy glory.'
‘You ask me how I should like to love Thee? With that purity with which the virgins loved Thee; with that fortitude with which the martyrs loved Thee. Yes,... You know, 0 Jesus (but do I say it too often?), I want to love Thee as Thy holy Mother loved Thee.'
‘I should like to possess the purity of the Angels, and even that of our Mother, most holy Mary.'
‘Do You know what chastisement I fear to merit? It is that of being condemned not to love Thee any more, my Jesus.'
‘Love demands love, and fire calls upon fire--Even from the depths of my unworthiness I love Thee, 0 my Jesus, and intensely. It would be impossible for me not to think of Thee. . . . I spend my days uttering burning aspirations of love.'
‘But what do You call me? What do You say of me? I am Thy delight, 0 Jesus? I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus; You are the staff of my life, the flame of my heart, the apple of my eye.'
‘See, Jesus, if You had shown Thyself less lovable; if You had not made me understand the extent of Thy love for me, I should have loved Thee less. But You have made me love Thee, and now I cannot do without Thee.'
‘What would happen to me if Jesus ceased to love me? I not to love Jesus, and Jesus not to love me? But it is a thought that terrifies me, and I beseech Jesus to continue to love me, to think of me, even though I do not succeed in loving Him as I ought.'
‘Oh dear Jesus, come to me, come! Do not be disgusted with my misery, for although it is great, Thy mercy is greater still. Come, and with Your purity, make my heart clean; with Thy meekness, beat down my pride. Visit my conscience, and if there is anything that displeases Thee, root it out and destroy it. Until my heart is full of true and solid virtue, do not come to it, do not expose to insult the honour of Thy glory, the greatness of Thy Majesty. Oh my God, You lower Thyself to the vilest of Thy creatures such as I am, repair the harm my sins have done, and raise me up, oh Jesus! And then, come to me always, oh Jesus....'
'I consider my soul as a high mountain with Jesus resting against it to prevent it from falling. Yes, it is indeed so! If Jesus did not sustain me I should fall. . . . 0 my God, make haste that I die, and die of love for Jesus! Do You not see that my heart and my body are in the throes of an agony and that I am on fire? Do You not see that I am a victim of love and that I shall soon die of love? The world wearies me; I long for one thing only, love, love, love.'
'What do You say, 0 Jesus? That when I am small then I am great? The smaller I feel, the more I feel I love Jesus. His love inebriates me, filling me ever more and more…I shall be alone with Jesus….What joy one experiences when one abandons oneself into the arms of Jesus! The faithful soul becomes His dearest child. He opens His arms to receive it, and presses it to His most Sacred Heart. Oh Jesus, I am in such need of Thy love!’
Source: "Blessed Gemma Galgani" by Father Amedeo C.P., Translated into English by Father Osmund Thorpe C.P., 1935.______________________________________________
“Oh Jesus, can there be a sweeter thing in the world than to love Thee?” -St Gemma Galgani