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Dr. Gianna Emanuela MollaJohn-Henry Westen / LifeSiteNews

ORLANDO, Florida, February 12, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — What was it that allowed St. Gianna Beretta Molla to choose the life of her child over her own life when faced with the decision? What allowed her to offer praise and thanks to God even though she would die days after delivering her healthy baby, leaving four young children and a loving husband? 

The secret of St. Gianna’s holiness was revealed to LifeSiteNews in an interview with the very person the saint gave up her life for, her daughter Gianna Emanuela Molla. 

Gianna Emanuela, 54 years old, said that if her parents' lives have taught her anything, it’s that the “way of the cross” is “certainly the right way” that Christians must follow if they are “to be able one day to enjoy paradise joy in the sight of God, forever.”

She is not talking about a sad and sorrowful living out of the Christian faith, but a kind of living that brings one to the deepest and most profound — and very often unexpected — joy. How to accomplish these two seemingly irreconcilable things — embracing the cross and finding joy — is the “secret.” 

Gianna Emanuela explained that for Christians, the cross does not have the final word, but becomes the source for the greatest transformation. 

“The way of the cross, humanly [speaking], is the most uncomfortable and difficult way to follow. But it is the only way that allows us to [find] a full and complete meaning to our lives,” she said. 

“The way of the cross, as you know, is connected to the resurrection, as our Jesus teaches us. And, as our heavenly mother teaches us, this way of the cross requires our ‘yes,’ our continuous ‘yes’ to God's will, always, even when we don't understand God's will. We have to say our ‘yes’ to God,” she added. 

Gianna Emanuela sees in the example of her parents’ lives the joy that comes from embracing the crosses they encountered daily throughout life. 

“Mom and dad’s lives teach me also that the way of the cross is the way of the joy, as well. Which kind of joy? The most perfect joy, the most great joy, the prelude to the greatest joy – to be able one day to have the joy of paradise, of being in God’s sight, forever,” she said. 

“It's possible to walk along the way of the cross and to live in the joy, if we have Jesus in our heart, if we see everything happening to us in the light of faith. And so, if we live in this way, we feel [inspired] to thank God continuously, as did my dad, for everything, for each of our breaths. We have to thank God,” she added. 

That freely choosing to embrace the crosses in one’s life as God’s will and finding peace and joy in that action comes directly from Jesus himself. It was he who said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). In another place he says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30) He also said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (Jn. 15:11).

Gianna Emanuela will forever be grateful for her “Saint Mama” deciding to embrace the cross after discovering a life threatening disease while being pregnant. 

Her mom, a pediatric doctor, was pregnant with Gianna Emanuela in 1961 when she learned she had a life-threatening tumor of the uterus. Doctors gave her three choices: an abortion, a complete hysterectomy (which would also kill her baby), or surgical removal of only the tumor (less chance of success). With the life of her precious daughter in mind, the mom opted for the removal of the tumor. 

But complications persisted. Facing a difficult delivery, she told doctors, “If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child – I insist on it.  Save him.” She died seven days later on April 28, 1962, giving her life for her child, after repeatedly exclaiming, “Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you.” She was 39 years old. 

Gianna Emanuela said that her Mom’s ‘yes’ to God amidst the complications and agonizing pain surrounding the pregnancy and delivery allowed God to raise up something beautiful from what most people would consider a hopeless situation. 

“My Saint Mama saying her ‘yes’ to God allowed God to realize (bring to fruition) my own life in a complete way,” she said. 

She said the key to successfully embracing the cross while turning it into a source of joy is to “continuously” thank God for everything, the good and the bad, that come one’s way. 

“Mom and dad, both of them suffered a lot in their lives…And even if they suffered a lot, they had a great joy in their heart. They continuously thanked God, which was their secret. If we think that Jesus went on the cross, it is not possible to think of a different way for us [as Christians]. This way of the cross, is also the way of the joy,” she said.