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The Way Of Divine Love
by -Sr. Josefa Menendez

“Tell Me what offerings you can give Me for souls.”
(Our Lord to Josefa, February 20th, 1921)

LENT and the Quarant’ore were at hand, and everyone at Les Feuillants felt them to be an invitation to an increase in love and reparation. These latter were becoming more and more Josefa’s habitual aim, for Our Lord unceasingly put before her the fact that she was the victim of His Heart; He was now about to give her proofs of it.

The First Friday of February was the anniversary of her arrival at Poitiers. Jesus appeared to her, and showing her His Heart all aglow, He said: “Every Friday, and especially on the first of the month, I will make you share in the bitterness of My Heart, and you shall endure the torments of My Passion in a special way.”

“Todos los Viernes y conpreferencia, el primero de cada mes te haré participar de la amargura de mi Corazón y sentiras de una manera especial los tormentos de mi Passión.”

“ ‘In these days when Hell opens to engulf so many I want you to offer yourself as a victim, so as to save the greatest possible number of souls.’

“He stayed a few minutes more, but in silence, and then vanished.”

The Sunday of the Quarant’ore, February 6th, He renewed the same appeal to Josefa. From early morning she had offered herself to repair the offenses of sinners, and at about three in the afternoon, Our Lord appeared to her in the chapel.

“What compassion I felt for Him,” she wrote. “His face, His arms, His breast were covered with dust, and blood flowed from His head, but His Heart was shining and beautiful.

“ ‘It is the want of love that wounds Me thus,’ He said, ‘and the contempt of men who run like madmen to perdition.’

“ ‘Why then, Lord, is Thy Heart so lovely and so glowing, in spite of the sins of men?’

“ ‘My Heart is never wounded unless it be by My chosen souls.’ ”

This answer touched Josefa deeply, and unveiled to her the most intimate of His sorrows; and often He was to ask her to share it and console Him. But today she was made responsible to God’s Justice for the flighty and guilty world. She spent before the Blessed Sacrament which was exposed, every minute of leisure left her by her work, and the thought of so many offenses against the Divine Majesty never left her mind. . . . Jesus, who had laid this weight upon her, came, however, to uphold her courage, and on February 8th, in the chapel at dusk, she saw Him as if weighed down by a heavy burden.

“The sins committed are so many and so grave,” He said, “that the wrath of My Father would overflow were it not for the reparation and love of My consecrated brides. . . . How many souls are lost!”

“But one faithful soul can repair and obtain mercy for many ungrateful ones.”

These words brought to Josefa’s mind the expiatory mission to which, from the first, Love had invited her. But little by little another plan was to become apparent, first intimated to Josefa on Ash Wednesday, which fell on the 9th of February.

Then, for the first time, Jesus entrusted her with His full plan: “The love I bear for souls, especially for yours, is so great that I can no longer contain the flames of burning charity that consume Me, and so in spite of your unworthiness and helplessness, I mean to make use of you to accomplish My plans.”

‘“El amor que tengo a las almas, y muy especialmente a la tuya, es tan grande que no puedo contener las llamas de mi ardiente caridad y a pesar de tu gran indignidad y miseria, Me servire de ti para realizar mis designios.”

The appeal, with its full implications of the gift of self and total surrender, was to become clear to Josefa only very gradually. But already the Master asked her consent; and a tangible sign was to seal her acquiescence.

“ ‘Will you give Me your heart?’ He asked.

“ ‘Yes, gladly, and more than my heart, Lord.’

“Jesus took it from me and placed it close to His own. How small it looked beside His! Then He gave it back to me, all on fire.

“Since then I feel within me a consuming flame, and I have to make very great efforts to control myself, lest anything should appear outwardly.”

Josefa decided to keep secret this signal grace which she so simply narrates, but Jesus would have no secrets, and on Thursday, February 10th:

“ ‘Now, listen, Josefa,’ He said, ‘I do not want you to hide anything from your Mother. She is right; you must tell her all.’ ”

Two days later He again impressed on her how much He held to her absolute dependence. “Tell your Mother everything,” He insisted.

And as she feared even the shadow of hidden self-complaisance in relating such things . . . He interrupted her vehemently: “It would be pride if you kept silence. Humility lies in simplicity and lowliness. Know for certain that if I ask you one thing and your Mother asks another, I prefer you to obey her rather than Me.”

We find noted on February 12th a long parenthesis regarding her reaction at each of Our Lord’s visits:

“In order to obey you, Mother, I will write down what I feel each time Jesus comes: First, an intense desire to humble myself. I always begin by asking His pardon for all my sins, for I see my soul all soiled and besmirched . . . and if it were not for an irresistible attraction that impels me forward, I should not dare approach or speak, when in His Divine Presence. I cannot say how it is that I am drawn . . . my soul is in peace . . . the more I try to humble myself, the better it seems to please Him. Sometimes, I am not able to utter a word, I am annihilated in adoration. At other times, it is like a torrent of consolation, even when He makes me suffer with Him. My heart as it were expands and loses itself in God. Again, at other times, I feel as if a furnace were kindled within me; Jesus burns me up in the fire of His Heart. At the same time, He makes me see my littleness so keenly that it passes my understanding how a God can love so lowly a creature as I, and my yearning to love Him grows and grows, and I want to gain souls for Him. I feel such a horror of myself that I cannot think what to do to root out my evil inclinations, and repair for my sins and ingratitude. It, so to speak, wrests my soul from earth and I find the greatest difficulty in settling down again to my daily occupations. I wish I could make you understand the agony of finding myself once more in my poor body, for often, when I am with Him, I think this union is going to last forever.”

A little later, and still under obedience, she explained how she had accustomed herself to do everything with Our Lord, and to tell Him everything.

“On Monday, February 14th, I was serving in the refectory at midday, as I always do. There was not enough of the first course. I went to the kitchen, and there was no more. . . . I didn’t know what to do . . . and as I am accustomed to talk over everything with Him, I said at once: ‘My Jesus, there is nothing more to eat.’ . . . On coming out of the refectory a second time, I suddenly caught sight of Him. He was near the taps in the kitchen; He stretched out His arms and smiled as He said: ‘Is it My fault, Josefa, that there is no more?’ . . .

“He vanished at once, and I don’t know how I ever went on serving, for He was so dear, so lovely . . . it was like Heaven . . .

“That is how I talk to Him of everything that happens. If I am sweeping and drop something: ‘O my Jesus . . . what a noise. I shall wake Thee.’ If I lose my things, I ask Him: ‘Where did I leave it, Lord? . . . Let us go and look for it together.’ When I am tired I tell Him. If I am late for my work, which often happens, for I have to go so many journeys because of all the things that I forget, then I say to Him: ‘Come now, Lord! We must hurry today, for it is late and there is much to do,’ especially on Saturdays, when I have to distribute the bundles of clean linen and the shoes in the children’s dormitories. In short, I tell Him all my fears. There are times when I do not see Him, but I talk to Him, knowing that He is there. Some days I tell Him everything that comes into my head. Sometimes I ask myself if I am not wanting in respect, but I don’t think so, because I am so happy, and I find myself at it again in no time.

“Often, too, I call Our Blessed Lady, especially when I sit down to sew: ‘Mother, do come and join us two,’ I say. ‘Jesus is here, so you ought to be here, too.’

“That is how I spend my days. I have explained everything, I think, as well as I can.”

These heavenly exchanges did not prevent Josefa from leading the most simple and laborious life with the other novices.

After her Postulantship, during which she had been helping in the kitchen, she was assigned care of the school linen-room. Les Feuillants had not yet completely recovered after its use as an ambulance during the war, so there was little to facilitate the work to which she devoted most of her time and energy. She shared, too, in all the common labors of the house, without ever betraying God’s special hold on her true life, which was concealed by her perfect self-forgetfulness.

We must therefore continue to follow her in the obscurity of common life and daily labor.

One little happening which occurred just about this time should not be left unrecorded.

“I was praying before the Tabernacle for my mother and sister. I was sad about them, and should have loved to be able to console them, and I thought of what I would do if I were at home, and I was not counting enough on my Jesus . . . when suddenly He came with His Heart glowing, and in a grave, solemn voice He said to me: ‘What could you do alone for them?’ and showing me His Heart: ‘Fix your attention here,’ and He disappeared.

On Sunday, February 20th, she wrote: “During Mass, after the Consecration, Jesus came, so entrancingly beautiful (hermosisimo).” She is fond of this superlative, which is the least inadequate expression she can find.

“ ‘Tell Me what you have to offer Me for the souls I have confided to you. Put it all in the Wound of My Heart, so that your offering may acquire an infinite value.’

“I told Him that He could take everything, for all I do is for these souls.

“ ‘Tell it to Me in detail.’

“Then I began an enumeration of everything: my Holy Hour, my little mortifications and penances, the suffering of the Crown of Thorns, every breath I draw, my work, my fears, my weakness and nothingness, everything I do and think . . . ‘It is all for love and for souls, Lord, and it is little indeed.’

“At nine-o’clock Mass He came back, with His Heart aflame.

“ ‘Look,’ He said, ‘these souls are safe now, deep in My Heart.’ ”

The next day, after Communion, Jesus appeared to her, and gazing at her with unbounded love, He told her once again what He wanted of her: “I want you to be so forgetful of yourself and so abandoned to My Will that I shall be able to warn you of your slightest imperfections, for I will allow none in you. You must never lose sight, on the one hand, of your nothingness, and on the other, of My mercy. Never forget that it is from your nothingness that My treasures will be poured forth.”

During the morning of Monday, while she was putting the dormitory in order and collecting the children’s Sunday uniforms, Our Lord showed Himself to her with His hands bound and His Sacred Head stained with blood from the Crown of Thorns.

“ ‘Do you love Me?’ He asked her eagerly.

“I don’t know what answer I gave . . . I said a hundred thousand things . . . He knows very well that I love Him . . .

“ ‘Listen, Josefa! I want your thirst for souls to grow and I want you to save many of them . . . and I want you to be burnt up with this longing.’ ”

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