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The Way Of Divine Love
by -Sr. Josefa Menendez



INTRODUCTION

On December 29th, 1923, Sister Josefa Menéndez, when thirty-three years old, died a holy death at the Convent of Les Feuillants, Poitiers. She lived as a Sister in the Society of the Sacred Heart only four years, and in so hidden a way that the world ought never to have heard of her, and even in her own community she should soon have been forgotten.

Yet, only twenty years after her death, she is known all over the world. In America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania people are praying to her and are listening attentively to the Message which the Heart of Jesus has given her for men.

In 1938 the substance of the Message, under the title of Un Appel à l’Amour, was published in Toulouse by the Apostleship of Prayer. Cardinal Pacelli, now gloriously reigning as Pope Pius XII, wrote a foreword of recommendation in the form of a letter. Five years later a complete biography was asked for with insistence, since readers were anxious for all the details of a life so rich yet so hidden and in which the very poverty of the human background threw into relief the splendor of Christ’s divine action.

This second and complete edition is the answer to that demand. It is drawn from Sister Josefa’s notes, written day by day, under obedience, its accuracy confirmed by the very exact reminiscences of the witnesses of her life, namely the Superior and Mother Assistant of the Convent of “Les Feuillants,” Poitiers, and her director, Father Boyer, O.P.

The reader will feel a certain curiosity in opening these pages, but their contents will fill him with wonder and admiration, and he will finish the book determined to lead a better life and to love a God who has manifested so intense a love for His creatures.

For every page tells of the wonderful providence of God’s love for man. Holy Scripture represents Him in the Psalms as following the sons of men with ever-watchful care, attentive to their every action and answering their least efforts to pray. Turning with love towards His rebel sons, from the beginning He lets His voice be heard through marvels and through His prophets, until the day when He Himself, taking flesh in the womb of the Virgin, tells men in human language of the love that fills His Heart.

Jesus, the Word Incarnate, has transmitted in all its completeness the Message He Himself received from the Father: “Omnia quaecumque audivi a Patre Meo, nota feci vobis” (John 15:15). There is nothing to add to Our Lord’s words, and at the death of St. John, the last Apostle, the divine revelation was closed and sealed. Later ages could do no more than draw out its meaning. But its riches are unfathomable, and most men are too inattentive and superficial to sound the depths of the Gospel teaching; consequently, just as under the Old Law Prophets were sent by God to revive the faith and hope of His people, so in the New Dispensation Christ has from time to time given certain chosen souls the mission of interpreting His authentic words, and of revealing their depths and hidden meaning.

Long ago, on Easter morning, He charged Saint Mary Magdalen with announcing His glorious Resurrection to the Apostles. In succeeding ages likewise poor and humble women have been chosen out to transmit His most important desires to mankind.

To recall only the chief instances: Through Saint Juliana of Montcornillon He revived devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and obtained the institution of the Feast of Corpus Christi; through Saint Margaret Mary a new stimulus was given to devotion to the Sacred Heart; through Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus He told a world which seemed to have forgotten it the merit and value of spiritual Childhood, and now, He has given a Message to Josefa Menéndez.

The three above mentioned have been canonized by the Church, and so have received, as it were, an official recognition of their mission. Sister Josefa has not had this honor bestowed on her, but while she is not yet called their Sister in glory, she is indeed their Sister in grace, and God has been pleased to seal her testimony. He who treats His creatures with such reverence, “Cum magna reverentia disponisnos” (Wis. 12:18), owed it to Himself to impress a stamp marking His messenger clearly as the bearer of His words.

“His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts,” and that there may be no doubt that the communications come from Him and no other, He chooses weak instruments, humanly speaking unfitted for the task in view; so His strength shines forth in their infirmity.

He did not choose the learned and the great in the world’s eyes to found His Church, Saint Paul expressly tells us, otherwise the rapid spread of Christianity could have been attributed to their talents and prestige . . . but He chose the poor and the ignorant, and of these He made vessels of election.

And that the greatness of their mission might not dazzle them and lead to vainglory, He again and again reminded them of their nothingness, their innate misery and their weakness. His gifts are only secure when bestowed on the truly humble of heart. His Providence has always worked in this way. His glory is manifest in man’s nothingness. “If I had been able to find a creature more miserable than you,” He said to Saint Margaret Mary, “I should have chosen her. . . .”

And Sister Josefa repeatedly heard the same declaration: “If I could have found a more wretched creature, I should have chosen her for my special love, and through her revealed the longings of My Heart. But I have not found one, and so I have chosen you.” (June 7th, 1923).

Soon after we hear Him say: “I have selected you as one utterly useless and destitute, that none may attribute to any but Myself, what I say, ask and do.” (June 12th, 1923).

As far as appearances went, nothing signalized Josefa as in any way fitted for so high a mission. If we remember her repeated delays in entering religion, we might be justified in doubting the constancy of her will; then, too, her humble rank in the community, her status as a mere novice, her great love of retirement, and the very real obstacle of her ignorance of the language of the country, all these hindrances combined would at first sight appear insurmountable.

If one had looked for a chosen soul among the novices of that time (they were for the most part Polish), Josefa’s appearance, which had nothing of the mystic about it, would not have led one to suspect God’s choice of her.

In reality they were tokens of God’s choice. Though but a lowly little novice, so tender-hearted as to be frequently on the point of yielding to her sensitiveness, she would show later an unconquerable strength of will. In the blinding light of divine revelations, she only crept deeper into her littleness, and the closer God drew to her the more she humbled herself. In spite of the evidence of God’s action, she was ever fearful of being deceived herself and of deceiving her Superiors. As a matter of fact, they had rarely met with a more obedient and docile subject, or one more deferential, more eager to submit to control, more ready to sacrifice herself. In her devotions, as in everything else, there was no exaggeration; she was perfectly straightforward and simple. She was mentally healthy and had a well-developed sense of order and proportion. The supernatural, whose weight was often crushing, never disturbed her interior poise, though this equilibrium was kept only at the cost of almost superhuman endurance. All this was in reality the best guarantee to Superiors that her communications were divine in origin.

To Sister Josefa Our Lord said: “You yourself shall be My sign.”

Though at first suspicious and reserved in their judgments, both her Director and her Superiors were forced by the evidence of her life to believe that her mission was divine.








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