St Gemma Galgani: receiving Jesus in the Eucharist

Primary source for this article is the excellent book “Blessed Gemma Galgani” by Benedict Williamson, 1933. Previously published under the title “Gemma of Lucca”, 1932.

Gemma had the most passionate love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament—“Gesu’ Sacramentato”, as He is so expressively called in Italian. On the day of her first Communion she remarked to a companion who had also made her first Communion along with Gemma:
“I feel I am burning. I feel there is a fire kindled in my heart; and do you feel the same?” This fire, once kindled never went out, but in time became a devouring flame, so that one day the saintly girl could exclaim: “I feel love will finally conquer me, and that my soul, unable to love Jesus enough here on earth, will be in danger of being separated from my body. How blessed to love Jesus alone …. Oh father, if you could say in a few days time: ‘Gemma was a victim of love and died of love.’ -What a blessed death! I would wish to be dissolved and that my heart might become ashes so that all could say: ‘The heart of Gemma has been consumed by Jesus.’ “

One day, while speaking of an exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Gemma wrote:“Yesterday, in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament I felt myself burning so fiercely that I had to go away. I felt stunned that so many could stay so near to Jesus and not be reduced to ashes. I felt I should be consumed. Jesus is such a sweet irresistible Lover; how can one fail to love Him with one’s whole heart and soul? How can one not wish to be wholly absorbed in Him, and consumed in the flames of His holy love ?
“Some days ago I was lamenting with Jesus and said to Him: ‘My God, if You cause all to feel thus on fire, they will all be burnt up before You and they will be unable to resist and You will be left all alone.’
Jesus replied with great tenderness: ‘But I do not love all in the same manner as I do you.’ Oh, yes, Jesus loves me. May He be ever blessed.”
When Signora Cecilia was away for some days, as occasionally happened, Gemma would spend this time in the Cloister of the “Mantellate Sisters” where she sometimes spent the night on her knees before the Blessed Sacrament. The Sisters were surprised at her prolonged adorations. Gemma writes: “They said to me: ‘Why do you spend such a long time there with Jesus?’ And I answered: ‘That I was a beggar before a great Lord. . . .. I had need of everything.’ “

During one of her ecstasies she said: “Oh Lord, You have not given me earthly and perishing riches, but the true riches, the nourishment of the Eucharistic Word. What should I be had I not dedicated to the Sacred Host all my affections? The Spirit of the Word reigning in the womb of the uncreated light has come and made me a partaker of His tenderness. Come, come Jesus, for I long for You day and night. Yes, I want You every hour and every moment, I want none but You. You alone Jesus can satisfy me. Jesus, when I find myself in Your presence all my sufferings vanish at once.”

“How precious are the moments of Holy Communion,” she exclaims, ” they can only be compared to the beatitude enjoyed by the saints and angels. They behold the face of Jesus and know they cannot sin any more, and can never lose Him again, for these two things I envy them and would wish to be of their company. But for the rest I have reason to rejoice, because every day Jesus comes into my heart; Jesus gives His whole self to me.

“Yes, Jesus shows all His sweetness in the Blessed Sacrament. But how can it be that a Majesty so great can endure the presence of so unworthy a creature? Does He not see my ingratitude; does He not see my heart? And yet Jesus bears with me and loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me, poor as I am, how can I not then love Him who is so rich and mighty?

Gemma’s longing for Jesus was so intense that she was impatient for the night to pass so that the time for Holy Communion might come quickly. Speaking to Jesus she once said: “Who will be first to seek each other tomorrow morning?,” Then she exclaimed. “It will be me.” The night was used as a preparation for the morning. Listen to this letter to her spiritual father: “It is night and I long for the morning when Jesus will possess me and I shall possess Jesus. Have I deserved this favour? No, my Father, is it not true? Jesus, my God, the only object of my affections. What a joy for me if I should die after receiving Him. Yes, to die in the ecstasy of Holy Communion. My only Love, Jesus . . . I await You. Oh, at least let the transports of my tenderness make You forget the bitterness of my worthlessness. Deluded indeed are they who love anyone beside Jesus. Oh my God, You deign once again on this day to cast a glance upon the least worthy of all Your children. It is too much, Oh my God, too much. My God, I adore You. I am dying of love for You, I have Your sweet Name ever in my mind, in my heart and on my lips. Jesus, Jesus, now and ever! Jesus, light of my heart and my soul. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!”
Miss Ethel Rose, a convert from Protestantism, a holy and devout soul, relates that once when she went to the Church of S. Michele for confession, she had to wait a considerable while outside the Confessional of Mgr. Volpi owing to the throng of penitents who were present.

“During this time,” she says, “I saw a priest giving Holy Communion and amongst those receiving I noticed a young girl whose appearance made a great impression on me, not only on account of her modesty and recollection but also on account of the extreme pallor of her face. She attracted and greatly interested me, so much so that I watched her for nearly an hour, seeing how she received Jesus, and how having received Him her face was inflamed with a most ardent love, and thus inflamed and recollected with hands joined and head slightly inclined, she remained absorbed in prayer, she seemed like a statue.”

Speaking on another occasion of the precious moments of Holy Communion, Gemma remarks:
“He is always with me, and is all mine. He is alone, alone. I alone am there to bless Him, to court Him. Yes, He is enclosed in the wretched little chamber of my heart. His Majesty has disappeared. We are alone, alone, and my heart beats in unison with that of Jesus. Does it not make one tremble with consolation? “

 
In one of her ecstasies she said: “Jesus, listen to what my confessor asks me, ‘What do you do, Gemma, while you are before Jesus ?’ ‘What do I do? When I am with Jesus Crucified I suffer, and when I am with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, I love.’ “

With what loving care she prepared to receive Jesus. Her whole heart concentrated on this wonderful meeting. “It is a question,” she once said,“of uniting two extremes: God who is everything and the creature who is nothing. God who is light and the creature who is darkness; God who is perfect sanctity and the creature who is full of sin. One cannot prepare for it too well.” These thoughts overwhelmed her and had not her ardent love conquered her fear she would not have dared to approach the altar rails. Something of this conflict between love and fear is revealed in the following: “Yes, Jesus, I know it is better to receive You than to look at You, but I am distressed because I know that if I spent years and years in preparation, I should still be unworthy to receive You. Jesus, how sweet it is to confess my misery to You. Oh Lord help me. I can still cast myself at Your feet. I still love the Faith and repeat a thousand times, and will go on doing so, that it is always better to receive You than to look at You.”

And when the shadow of evening began to fall, and her life hastened to its ending, even with a temperature at 104 degrees, this heroic girl got up and dragged herself to Church to receive the Jesus she loved so ardently. She would implore Jesus to give her the strength to get up, even if in exchange He increased her pain a hundredfold: “To an affectionate Lover like You, Lord, many entreaties are not needed. You understand at the first word. Then say ‘Yes’ and I shall come.”
After being unable for two days to receive her Lord, this is how Gemma revealed herself during ecstasy.
“Jesus, finally, after two days I have seen You again. You, alone, Jesus, can content me…You are always giving Yourself to me, and yet I always remain so bad. This thought overwhelms me. But have You not said this must not overwhelm me? Oh Jesus, I deserve to be burning in Hell and instead You make me experience the delights of Your love.
“I may almost say, Jesus, that I am a nursemaid over You. I feel You in my heart, I feel Your presence so vividly. What a mystery! I feel I am in Paradise. When the morning arrives and You enter my heart, I forget everything . . . all the afflictions of earth…I perceive You alone.”

And, on another occasion:
“I suffer, Jesus, I suffer, but do You not see me smiling, and that I am happy now. Yes, Jesus, these are verily my happy moments upon earth. To be with You, Jesus, what a consolation!
“Adorable Jesus, paradise of charity, marvel of Love, I am confounded by so many graces; yet if You do not help me I shall become more ignorant, and in this abundance of Your graces always grow worse.


“Come, come, Lord, and help me. I do not wish to receive You thus so ill prepared. Make me worthy of You, at least a little less unworthy. By what means? By Your most precious Blood.

“Tell me, Jesus, do You really feel pleasure in being with me? I, in being with You, yes, indeed. The more I think of You the more sweet and adorable I see You to be.
“Ah, what, then, do You ask of me? Love? I love You; for You are my benefactor, my Creator, my Preserver. You are the Perfector and the divinizzatore* of my soul. Because You are the Spouse of my soul, I look always for You; I look for Your affection, Your friendship, Your glory. If You help me I shall never seek anything else. How Your sweet voice sets my soul aflame! And what do You receive from my ingratitude? Perhaps I am united with You corporally but what about my heart? No, no, my heart is Yours. You, Jesus, are a King, strong and generous, who sends me into battle, but You always give the victory. Give me the grace to listen to Your voice, so that I may love You with tender affection.”

“…My Jesus, I struggle …I die…I die through You. Jesus, Lord of strong souls, strengthen me, purify me, make me divine. Great God, God of every sacrifice, Jesus, help me! My Redemption, God from God, come to my aid. Continually You watch over me… I thank You, Jesus. Do You not see how I suffer in the morning before You come to me?. . . . You, Jesus, are the flame of my heart. My Jesus, I will love You with my whole being. All you saints in heaven, lend me your hearts.”

Please Visit http://www.stgemmagalgani.com for more on St Gemma
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