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The Way Of Divine Love
by -Sr. Josefa Menendez



“The world does not know the mercy of My Heart! I intend to make it known through you.”
(Our Lord to Josefa, February 24th, 1921)

THE time for a more solemn appeal had come, and on Thursday, February 24th, during her evening adoration, Josefa heard Our Lord say: “Tomorrow you will offer My Father all your actions united to the Blood shed in My Passion. Try not to lose sight of the Divine Presence one single instant, and rejoice as far as possible at anything you have to suffer. Do not cease thinking of souls . . . of sinners. . . . O! how I thirst for souls!”

Already He had told her that He wanted each Friday to be a day of offering and of closer union with His Heart. This was a reminder.

“I offered myself to comfort Him and to win souls . . . ‘but, O Lord, do not forget that I am the most ungrateful and miserable of them all.’

“ ‘I know it,’ He said, ‘but I am training you.’

“He went away . . . I made an act of self-surrender, to do all He wished, and I understood that He meant to take me at my word: ‘O Jesus, I know that Thou wilt have pity on me, and that Thou wilt give me the strength I need . . . ’ In the evening, during Holy Hour, I was thinking of sinners and of how many there are . . . but also of how much greater His mercy is . . . suddenly He stood before me, and with a voice of great majesty, as might be a king’s, He said to me: ‘The world does not know how merciful I am; I am going to use you to make it known.”

“El mundo no conoce la Misericordia de mi Corazón. Quiero valerme de para hacerla conocer.”

Fear took hold of Josefa, and she cried out:

“ ‘But, dear Lord, do not forget how weak I am, and that the smallest obstacle makes me fall. . . .

“As if He had not heard, Jesus continued: ‘I want you to be the apostle of My goodness and mercy. I will teach you what this means; forget yourself.’

“I implored Him to have compassion on me, and to leave me without these graces to which I am unable to correspond, and to choose other and more generous souls.

“Jesus only answered by these words: ‘Do you forget, Josefa, that I am your God,’ and He vanished.”

There was no offense to His Heart, however. He knew that in the very depths of her will she was all His, that her very fears were the expression of her humble distrust of self, and with this He was never displeased.

The next day, Friday, February 25th, He returned during Mass:

“He looked at me,” she wrote, “and I begged to be left like all the other novices, without any extraordinary happenings, for I cannot exist as things are now.

“ ‘If you cannot, Josefa, I can.’

“ ‘But I do not want to,’ she ventured to murmur timidly. ‘I so want to be like everybody else.’

“ ‘But I will it to be so. Does that not suffice you?’

“Then He added firmly: ‘Where is your love?’ . . .

“ ‘Love, and have no fear. I want what you do not want, but I can do what you cannot do. It is not for you to choose, but to surrender.’ ”

How many struggles this surrender was going to cost Josefa’s soul. . . . God no doubt allowed them to prove the authenticity of His action with greater certainty, and to dispose of any doubts entertained by those around her. It can be truthfully said that Josefa never ceased dreading her mission, and the three years to come would be punctuated by the terrors that assailed her every time she was asked to surrender.

A few days after that memorable date of February 25th, 1921, with confusion she notes that she drew back before the costly act of transmitting the message that Jesus gave her.

Then, she adds, He disappeared. . . .

The measure of Josefa’s sorrow after such a parting is not difficult to imagine. She tried at first to hide it. But the arch-fiend seized his chance of making capital out of the silence that now fell on her soul. He persuaded her that it was all lost and that further efforts were useless. The word “martyrdom” which she used seems not too strong a term to fit the situation—that diabolic influence which God allowed the powers of darkness in that awful hour. “O! Mother, what a martyrdom!” she wrote a few days later. “I could bear no more . . . had I not been restrained by faith, I know not what I should have done. . . .”

Then in great detail she related her humiliating struggle and continued:

“The evening of March 3rd I went to ask you to forgive me, as I had already been to Jesus, and I began to see things differently. . . . I know that He will forgive me again, for I know His Heart. . . .

“During Holy Hour, for it was Thursday, I threw myself at His feet . . . I do not know what I said to Him, but I felt relieved, although my soul remained as cold and stony as ever.”

The next day, the First Friday of March, peace and light began to return, though the devil made one last effort which he hoped would settle the matter. Josefa was in the garden, picking flowers for the chapel, of which she was sacristan, when suddenly she was given a violent push, and falling on a glass frame, it broke under her weight. A stream of blood flowed from her right arm, which was deeply lacerated. The hemorrhage yielded to the treatment instantly applied, but her arm remained useless for several days. During that time (ever faithful to obedience) she dictated the notes she was unable to write herself. They were as follows:

“In the middle of my adoration Our Lady came, so kind and so compassionate, with open arms, like a mother. I begged her pardon, and asked her if I should still be able to console Jesus and gain souls for Him.” (This was always her first and greatest anxiety.)

“ ‘For, knowing His Heart, I have no doubt that He will forgive me.’

“ ‘Yes, daughter, you are forgiven—infernal fury will lay many more traps for you . . . but take courage, you will not fall into them.’

“And giving me her blessing, she disappeared.”

This celestial visit was again renewed a couple of days later, March 11th:

“I was praying to Our Lady and telling her how much I wished Jesus would forget the past, when suddenly she appeared. . . . She was all sweetness, her hands crossed on her breast. I knelt down and she said at once: ‘Jesus loves you, daughter, just as much as before, and He wants you to gain souls for Him.’ ”

Then, in allusion to Josefa’s wounded arm: “The devil would have killed you, if he had been able to do so, but he was not able.”

Jesus Himself came very soon to reassure His child, and to tell her that nothing could change His love or His choice.

Passiontide gave Josefa the chance she coveted of repairing and of participating in the sufferings of her Master.

On March 14th, Monday in Passion Week, He came to her after Communion.

“His glance was penetrating, but full of pity. His way of looking at me made so great an impression on me and said so much. . . .

“ ‘I cannot resist your misery any longer,’ He said.

“Then, after a moment’s silence: ‘Do not forget that it is your nothingness and littleness that act as magnets to attract Me to you.’

“That same evening, when I was in the chapel and still under the impression of the look He had cast on me, He suddenly came.

“He had never looked on me like that before, and I think His eyes made me see in one instant all that He had done in me . . . and what I had done for Him, alas! so little, returning His love by ingratitude . . . but that glance also told me that nothing of it all mattered if I was determined to be faithful, for He was always ready to show me His love and give me fresh graces. All this was present to my mind and I never stopped asking His forgiveness and promising never to resist Him again.”

It was the first time that Josefa had drawn special attention to the forceful glance of Our Lord.

“ ‘See, Josefa, I am still interceding for souls and forgiving them,’ He said.

“He glanced at me for a moment with the same searching look as in the morning. It said so much, there was no need for words. Neither did I say anything. After a moment He spoke: ‘Do you know all I have done for you?’

“Then I saw again all His graces and my ingratitude. I told Him of my determination to do not only all He asks, but all that I know He would like me to do, and this came from the bottom of my heart. As I spoke, His Heart changed entirely. It expanded, flames issued from the wound and His face shone with bright effulgence. Then He said: ‘I will make you taste the bitterness of My Passion and you will suffer in some degree the outrages inflicted on My Heart. You will offer yourself to My Father in union with Me to obtain pardon for many sinners.’

“He looked at me again, as if to give me courage, and departed.”

It had become a real necessity for Josefa to implore forgiveness, after her recent failings, and she did so incessantly; Our Lord never resisted these appeals.

“On March 15th, Feast of the Five Wounds, I was still asking Him to pardon me, when, after Communion, as a flash He passed before me, stopped one instant, and said only: ‘Love blots out everything.’ ”

This lesson became more and more deeply imprinted on her mind. She lived on it during her work. That morning, being in the loft preparing linen for the laundry:

“As my one desire is reparation,” she said, “I asked Our Lord to save as many souls as there were handkerchiefs to count. I offered my whole day for this object, uniting my sufferings to His Heart and to His merits.

“Towards nightfall, a little before my adoration, I went into the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, where Our Lord was exposed, and He appeared.

“ ‘If you concern yourself with My glory,’ He said, ‘I will look after you. I will establish My peace in you so that nothing will be able to trouble you; I will set up in your soul the reign of My love, and your joy none shall take from you.’

“He came close to me. His wound opened. Then I saw a long line of souls prostrate in adoration, and I understood that all these were the souls I had begged of Him that morning.

The 17th of March, Thursday in Passiontide, was the twentieth anniversary of Josefa’s First Communion. This was a date she never allowed to pass unnoticed, and she wrote in her notes: “Twenty years today since Jesus chose me for Himself, and never have I been less worthy of His love.”

Then she humbled herself at the thought of so many graces to which she had not corresponded enough, but she added at once:

“I decided that I must make a complete change, and while I was making this firm resolution Jesus, with open arms, appeared before me and in His most endearing voice said to me: ‘Yes, Josefa, I did indeed call you that day, and since then I have never forsaken you. I have kept you inseparable from Myself. How often you would have fallen had I not been your support. . . . Today, I once more reiterate My choice: I want you to belong entirely to Me . . . to be faithful to Me . . . and to respond to My love. I shall, in exchange, become your Bridegroom and I shall love you as the privileged bride of My Heart. I take on Myself all the labor; you will have only to love and abandon yourself. Your littleness is nothing to Me, and even your falls; My blood wipes them all away. All you need do is to rely on My love and surrender yourself.’ ”

But the divine predilection always brought Josefa back to one thought, that of the salvation of souls.

On March 22nd, Tuesday in Holy Week, after Communion, Jesus showed Himself to her, His arms extended. She took courage at what she termed “the immense kindness of her Master.”

“I should like to ask Thee for many things, Lord,” she said.

“Do you not know what is written in My holy Gospel? ‘Ask and you shall receive.’ ”

“Then I implored Him to have compassion on the whole world and to enkindle it with the fire of His own love.”

“ ‘Ah! if only they knew My Heart . . . mankind is ignorant of Its mercy and goodness: that is My greatest sorrow.’

“I begged Him to set souls on fire with zeal for His glory, to increase the number of priests, and to call many into religious life. . . . I stopped at last . . . but in the silence that ensued I still whispered to Him how much His glance said to me . . . and what confidence it gave me. Afterwards He showed me His hands and made me kiss His Wounds. Then He departed.”

Such records suffice to show to what extent the burning zeal of the Heart of Jesus already consumed that of Josefa. Souls had become the aim of her life, and her converse with Our Lord in each of these divine visits was always about them.

During meditation on Spy Wednesday, March 23rd, she asked Him in her prayer what exactly He meant by “saving souls.”

“He came,” she said, “and looked at me with great affection. He replied: ‘There are some Christian souls and even very pious ones that are held back from perfection by some attachment. But when another offers Me her actions united to My infinite merits, she obtains grace for them to free themselves and make a fresh start.

“ ‘Many others live in indifference and even in sin, but when helped in the same way, recover grace, and will eventually be saved.

“ ‘Others again, and these very numerous, are obstinate in wrongdoing and blinded by error. They would be damned if some faithful soul did not make supplication for them, thus obtaining grace to touch their hearts, but their weakness is so great that they run the risk of a relapse into their sinful life; these I take away into the next world without any delay, and that is how I save them.’

“I asked Him how I could save a great many.

“ ‘Unite all you do to My actions, whether you work or whether you rest. Unite your breathing to the beating of My Heart. How many souls you would be able to save that way.’ ”

The last days of Lent associated Josefa more intimately with the sufferings of Calvary. For the first time she followed her Master step by step through the Passion, and on Good Friday, March 25th, she was constantly brought back to His suffering Presence.

“When I had finished my sweeping I went upstairs to visit Our Lady in the Noviceship,” she wrote. “I had hardly entered when Jesus came. His hands were bound, and His head crowned with thorns, His face all soiled with blood and bruises. He fixed His eyes on me with supreme sadness, and then vanished.”

“At three that afternoon,” she wrote, “I saw Him again. He showed me the Wound in His side and said: ‘Behold the work of Love.’

“His wound opened and He continued: ‘It opens for mankind—for you . . . come . . . come nearer . . . and enter.’ ”

The Mother of Sorrows put her seal on the graces of the day by one of those revealing words so peculiarly her own. At five that evening Josefa was in the oratory of the Noviceship:

“There, in wordless prayer, I sat at Our Lady’s feet and in spirit went through all that I had seen and understood that day. Suddenly I became aware that she was present. Clothed in a very dark purple tunic and veil, she held in her hands the Crown of Thorns, all covered with blood; she showed it to me, saying: ‘On Calvary, Jesus gave me all men for my sons; come then, for you are my child. Have you not already realized to what an extent I am a mother to you?’

“I asked her leave to kiss the Crown of Thorns, and as she gave it to me, she put her hand on my shoulder and said: ‘O how I love to think of Him as He bequeathed those souls to me.’ ”

With the morning of Holy Saturday, March 26th, this series of graces came to an end, closed by a heavenly favor that left an ineffaceable stamp on Josefa’s soul. “Do you know why I give you these graces in such abundance?” Our Lord asked of her, appearing to her during her prayer, His wounds all glowing. He repeated what He had once said in almost identical terms to Saint Margaret Mary: “I want to make of your heart an altar on which the fire of My love will burn constantly. That is why I want it pure, and that nothing that can stain it should touch it.”

“Sabes el fin que tengo al darte mis gracias en tanta abundancia? Quiero de tu corazón hacer un altar en el cual arda continuamente el fuego de mi Amor. Por eso, quiero que se purifique y que nada lo toque que pueda mancharlo.”

“He vanished,” said Josefa, “and I went down to the chapel for Mass. After Communion I felt as if in Heaven. I saw within me, as on a resplendent throne, three Persons clothed in white. They were all three exactly alike, and so beautiful! My soul was in such delight that it was like fire which consumed without burning it, pure joy. Then all faded away.”

This interior grace was renewed on the 5th of April following. A marvelous peace pervaded Josefa’s whole being in the Presence of the Three Persons. She tried to explain, in terms of singular simplicity, what passed in her soul and apparently was ignorant of the import of so signal a grace.

“Ordinarily,” she said, “I am enveloped in the Divine Presence, and even when I enter into the Heart of Jesus I am immersed in Him. But on these last two occasions at the moment of Communion it was more like an amazing feast being celebrated within my soul. Jesus entered into me as if into His palace. I cannot explain it . . . and as I was most determined to surrender myself completely into His hands, to do exactly as He wished with me, it was like Heaven.”

It is not difficult to conceive how, after such contacts, Josefa had to do great violence to herself to attend immediately to the work that awaited her. This effort, so impossible to gauge, often gave a loophole to the arch-enemy, and he hastened to avail himself of it.








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