I am currently reading “The Life of St Gemma Galgani” after a series of coincidences have convinced me and the bookseller who managed to obtain the book for me that the Holy Spirit, if not St Gemma herself, wish for me to read this book in order to better myself in some way.
Saints, such as St Gemma, have always confused me because one moment these saints prove to be a beacon of virtue and example, loving God and neighbor with literally their *whole *mind, body and strength, enduring pain and requesting to share in more alongside the Crucified Jesus, working tirelessly for the betterment of sinners, the poor, and even the arrogant who mocked them, and, of course, some of the more simple virtues such as a devout prayer life; however, the next moment these men and women stand in front of a mirror and can hardly tolerate the sight of themselves. Not only do they deem themselves truly wretched and unlovable, but they tend to be scrupulous in their sins – blaming themselves for every little fault in the home, society, or even the world. For example, St Gemma once wrote to her spiritual director that
“Jesus scarcely looks at me any more, and if He does glance at me, He is so very, very serious that sometimes I am even obliged not to look at Him. It seems as though He drives me from Him. This is a real torment. Now, Father, I am almost abandoned by Jesus on account of my sins; and what shall I do? To whom shall I go?” (143)
Oh, the despair is too much! Not only that, but she considers herself a “cesspit,” a “worthless being,” and “repulsive in the eyes of God.” The Jesus of St Gemma is so just and exacting that it’s sometimes difficult to see the mercy, which hardly compares to St Theresa of Calcutta’s Jesus of her “I Thirst” meditation which contains such lines as,
I have followed you through the years, and l have always loved you - even in your wanderings. I know every one of your problems. I know your needs and your worries. And yes, I know all your sins. But I tell you again that I love you - not for what you have or haven’t done - I love you for you, for the beauty and dignity My Father gave you by creating you in His own image.
Read the full text here.
Thus far, I have not encountered anything remotely similar to this in the biography of St Gemma. Thus far, with St Gemma, it’s been nothing but pain, isolation, and rejection by both God, man, and herself – and I’m tired of feeling worthless alongside her. I’m beginning to think that the coincidences by which I came into possession of this book were little more than just that, and maybe I should get back to reading my biography of St Francis of Assisi who actually seems to have enjoyed life even during his darkest hour.
Any enlightenment you folks can offer me would be appreciated.