Feast of Saint Gemma Galgani
Whenever Jesus uses the phrase “very truly” he is presenting us with a new teaching. In this case Jesus is assuring us that he will not be speaking to us in “parables” but directly in plain truth. The truth he shares is that the Holy Spirit will be with us and will teach us plainly. The Father loves us because we believe that Jesus came from the Father and will return again to the Father.
Jesus assures us because we believe we will have a new understanding in the power of prayers. To act on this understanding is to find the “fullness of joy.” The loyalty of Jesus’ disciples insures God’s loving interest in their prayers.
The disciples share fully in Jesus’s relationship with God. The disciples can pray like Jesus and have full confidence God will hear their prayers. Just as the Trinity is a relationship of love, so too is the life of the disciples. Their community is shaped by love, intimacy, and mutuality. This is the core of Jesus’ teaching. Just as Jesus and the Father are friends, the disciples and the Father are friends united in love. Thus the disciples will be aware of the Holy Spirit and have a direct line of communication with the Father.
One who understood this teaching of Jesus to his disciples is St. Gemma Galgani.
Today is the Feastday of St. Gemma Galgani (1878-1903). She was born in Lucca, Italy. By the time she was nineteen years of age, both of parents had died, and she was left without a supportive family. In 1898 she was struck with a life threatening illness. In a vision, St. Gabriel Possenti , C.P. told her she would be cured, and that she would be a Passionist. In 1899 she received the stigmata on her hands, feet and side. Although she sought entrance into the Passionists Nuns she was refused. However, when she died she was allowed to be buried in the habit of the Passionist nuns in Lucca.
Gemma holds a fascination for people today. In 2003, the University of Chicago published a book entitled “The Voices of Gemma Galgani: The life and afterlife of a modern saint. In advertising this book when it was published the publisher said: “Gemma was a model for modern women.” She is the first person in the twentieth
century to be beatified (130), and canonized (1940).
Fr. Ken O’Malley, C.P., is the local superior at Holy Name Passionist Community in Houston, Texas.