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The Way Of Divine Love
by -Sr. Josefa Menendez

“Do you want to be a comfort to Me?”
(Our Lord to Josefa, June 14th, 1921)

SOME time before the Feast of the Sacred Heart, I no longer remember the exact date,” wrote Josefa, “I saw Our Lord; His Heart bore three fresh wounds, and from each there flowed much blood.

“ ‘See what I want for My feast.’ ”

And as she expressed her grief at His sorrow:

“ ‘There are three priests who are wounding My Heart . . . offer all you do for them.’

“I said how poor I was that He might supply what is wanting to me. He replied with much love and clemency: ‘The greater your helplessness, the more My power will sustain you. I will make you rich with My gifts. If you are faithful to Me, I will take up My abode in you and will take refuge there, when sinners repulse Me. I shall rest in you, and you will have life in Me. Come to My Heart and there find all you need, even if it is what I have asked of you. Have confidence and love.’ ”

From that moment, suffering of both body and soul rarely left Josefa, till Friday June 3rd, Feast of the Sacred Heart, when the power of prayer and the mercy that responds to it were shown to her.

“During my prayer He opened His Heart for me to enter in: ‘Come,’ He said, ‘enter in, and continue to confide to Me all I have asked of you.’

“He gave me sweet repose after all the anguish of the preceding days. Then He, O! so beautiful . . . stayed near me . . . as if unable to restrain His joy. I spoke to Him of the three priests. ‘Pray to My Heart for them,’ He said; ‘they have not yet come back . . . but they are nearer.’ ”

Overjoyed at the sight of His beauty, Josefa alluded to the Feast, which she thought would have given Him so much glory.

“His Heart glowed at these words; never before had I seen Him so.

“ ‘Yes, today is the feast of My love. Souls, those that I love so much . . . they delight My Heart, coming as they do to seek strength and remedy in My Heart which so ardently desires to enrich them; that is what glorifies and consoles Me most.’

“He stayed to the end of meditation and then followed me to Mass.”

It is the custom in the Society on the Feast of the Sacred Heart for all the nuns to renew their vows before the Sacred Host at the moment of Communion. Josefa could hardly contain herself as she listened to the renovation uttered so earnestly by each of the community in turn.

“O! how happy I am in my dear Society . . .” she wrote.

“Suddenly I saw His Heart . . . at first, alone, immersed in a blazing furnace; then, as if a few fleecy clouds parted, Jesus Himself appeared. O! what beauty! . . . I know not what I said. . . . How can I thank Him for all He does for me?

“ ‘I will tell you how, Josefa. Take this Heart and offer It to your God. By It, you can pay all your debts. You know now what I wished to do when I attracted you to this house. I want you to fulfill My plans by the docility with which you allow yourself to be handled, and with which you surrender to My love, which only seeks to possess and consume you. Love will despoil you of self and allow you to think only of My glory and of souls.’

Then with increasing animation, He added: “ ‘Now pray . . . ask all you want . . . tell Me your desires.’

“Then I prayed for all I most desire—first for the Society, as is only natural, and at the same time I offered Him all those fervent acts of renovation for the three priests. . . . All day long I never ceased praying for them . . . I cannot say how often I repeated: ‘Lord, Thou hast told me that today souls give great joy to Thy Heart and gain many graces . . . cannot we gain those three priests? O! let Thy Heart be touched!’ ”

Towards three in the afternoon she went to the Novitiate, and as she passed the organ tribune she made another flying visit:

“To knock at the door of His Heart,” she wrote, “in order that He might no longer resist our supplications. He came at once, and as if He had not heard, He said to me: ‘What do you want? Tell Me.’

“ ‘But, my Jesus, Thou knowest . . . what of those three priests? . . . I implore Thee, since it is Thine own wish. . . . Thou alone canst do it.’ ”

Then with majestic solemnity and divine joy, pointing to His Heart, He said: “Josefa, they have returned to Me!” And, as if gripped by intense emotion, He continued: “If they had refused My grace, they would have been responsible for the loss of a great many souls.” And, as prostrate at His feet, she was mute with the joy that filled her, He added: “You will repeat these words every day: ‘O Jesus, by Thy most loving Heart, I implore Thee to inflame with zeal for Thy love and glory all the priests of the world, all missionaries and those whose office it is to preach Thy word, that, on fire with holy zeal, they may snatch souls from the devil and lead them into the shelter of Thy Heart, where forever they may glorify Thee.’ ”

Josefa never forgot that Feast of the Sacred Heart. She had witnessed the infinite joy of the Sacred Heart when His priests give Him all the love they owe Him. The prayer He had taught her became her daily petition and priestly souls the first and biggest intention of her consecrated life. A little secret note found only after her death proves that at this time Our Lord kept the thought of the missions constantly before her eyes.

“It was on June 11th (I was still afraid of betraying myself to those around me), when suddenly I saw Our Lord. I told Him of my fears, and with inexpressible tenderness He answered: ‘Remember My words and trust in them. The one desire of My Heart is to imprison you in It, to possess you in My love, and to make of your frailty and littleness a channel of mercy for many souls who will be saved by your means. Later on, I will reveal to you the burning secrets of My Heart, and they will be for the good of many souls. I want you to write and to keep all I say to you. It will be read when you are in Heaven. It is not for your merits that I use you, but that souls may see how My power makes use of weak and despicable instruments.’

“Recuerda mis palabras y ten fe. El deseo único de mi Corazón es aprisionarte y ahogarte en mi amor, hacer de tu pequeñez y flaqueza un canal de misericordia para muchas almas que se salvarán por tu medio. Mas tarde te descubriré los secretos mas amorosos de mi Corazón y ésto servira para hacer bien a muchas almas. Deseo que escribas y guardes cuanto Yo te diga. Todo se leerá cuando tu estés en el cielo, no es por tus méritos que quiero servirme de ti, es porque las almas vean que mi Poder se sirve de instrumentos débiles y miserables.”

“I asked Him if I was to say even that,” she wrote ingenuously.

“ ‘Write it; they will read it after you are dead.’ ”

Thus He gradually unveiled to her the great design of His love which was being prepared in the silence and labor of her working days. Of suffering there was to be enough, and Josefa, who advanced courageously towards humility, was not without frequent temptation. The devil tried to change into obstacles acts which she could have done so simply at another time; but Our Lady was there as always to enlighten, guide, and defend her.

“ ‘I used to tell her all that happened to me,” she wrote on the 13th of June, “but I was not expecting to see her, when she came like a loving Mother, so kind.

“ ‘Listen, daughter, do not pay any attention to what you feel. Believe me, the sharper your repugnance, the greater your merit in the eyes of your Master. Be on your guard about these three points by which the enemy of souls will endeavor to make you fall.

“ ‘First: Never give in to scruples which he suggests to you in order to make you give up Holy Communion.

“ ‘Second: When my Son asks anything of you—be it an act of humility or some other act, do it with great love, telling Him all the time: “Lord, Thou seest how much it costs me . . . but Thou first, and I afterwards.”

“ ‘Third: Pay no attention to the artifice of the devil who tries to persuade you that the confidence you have in your Mother subtracts something from your tenderness for Jesus. If he is able to master you in this matter, he will have gained everything.

“ ‘Open your heart in all confidence, and love your Mother without fear; always tell her with great simplicity what you think, all that worries you. Jesus also willed to love on earth those who represented His Father, and He is pleased when you are open and simple with her. But on no account ever omit a Communion: this I particularly recommend to you.’ ”

Who would not wonder at the thoughtful kindness of such motherly counsels! It was by following them implicitly that Josefa became in the hands of her Master the docile and supple instrument He was forging for His redemptive work.

“Tuesday, June 14th, Jesus the all beautiful came,” she wrote. “He bore in His hands the Crown of Thorns and He asked me with an expression of the most gracious mildness: ‘Will you comfort Me?’

“Of course, I assented at once . . . and He continued: ‘I want you to work at bringing back to Me a much-loved soul. Direct your attention and offer all you do for him. Often present My Blood to the Father. Kiss the ground in reparation for this outraged Blood trampled underfoot by the souls I so dearly love. If you obtain leave, I will tell you all you can do for him. I shall not infringe the Rule or any observance.’ ”

Our Lord’s attention to the observance of the Rule kept Josefa ever on the straight path.

“Have you leave from the Mother Assistant?” He said to her after Communion the next day.

“Thou knowest, dear Lord, that her one wish is to please Thee.” “I know it, but you must first submit to the will of your Superior, even before you do what I Myself ask you.”

Then He laid out a plan for days of oblation:

“ ‘When you awake, enter at once into My Heart, and when you are deep down in It, offer My Father all your actions united to the beating of My Heart. Unite all your actions to Mine, so that it will no longer be you, but I, that act in you.

“ ‘During Mass, present this soul that I want to save to My Father, so that He may pour over him the Blood of the Victim that is about to be immolated.

“ ‘When you go to Holy Communion, offer the divine wealth you then possess to pay that soul’s debt.

“ ‘During your prayer, place yourself beside Me in Gethsemane, share My anguish, and offer yourself to My Father as a victim ready to endure all that your soul is able to bear.

“ ‘When you take your food, think that you are giving Me that alleviation and do the same whenever you take pleasure in anything whatsoever.

“ ‘Do not be separated from Me even for one instant. Often kiss the ground. Do not omit to make the Stations a single day. If I need you, I will tell you.

“ ‘Look solely to My Will in all you do and accomplish it with the greatest submission.

“ ‘Humble yourself profoundly, but always joining confidence and love to your humility.

“ ‘Do everything out of love, and do not lose sight of what I suffered for souls.

“ ‘During the night you will rest in My Heart. Mine will hearken to the beats of yours which will stand as so many acts of love and desire. Thus you will bring back to Me that soul that so offends Me.’

“I asked Him to be indulgent with me, if one or other of these points is not done exactly as He wishes, for I am very weak.

“In the evening, during my adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, He came with bleeding hands and feet, and looking up to Heaven, He said: ‘Offer My Father the divine Victim and the Blood of My Heart for that soul.’

“He repeated the same words three times. I told Him of my desire to comfort Him and to carry out all He had explained to me.

“ ‘Do not be over-anxious; you possess My Heart for all I ask you to do.’ ”

Josefa was learning how great is the price of a soul’s salvation. For many weeks to come she was associated with Christ’s offering and redemptive sufferings, and step by step she followed the return of the wandering soul.

For the last few days a violent pain in her left side had been added to the many sufferings that were wearing her down. At times she was hardly able to breathe. Efforts to relieve her were quite ineffectual and the doctor’s diagnosis did not reveal anything abnormal. But in her heart she feared that this pain might be an obstacle to her religious life.

Again she turned to Mary and confided to her maternal Heart this anxiety, which far more than the pain oppressed her.

On Monday, June 20th, she was praying in the Noviceship oratory:

“Suddenly Our Lady came, and said sweetly to me: ‘Do not be anxious, daughter . . . tell your Mother that there is nothing to be afraid of. That pain is a spark from my Son’s Heart. When it is more intense, offer it up, for it signifies that at that moment a soul is offending Him grievously. Do not fear pain; it is a treasure both for you and for souls.’

“She gave me her blessing and was gone.”

That same evening, in the refectory, faithful to her Master’s injunction—

“I was offering up my food to Our Lord as He had taught me to do,” she wrote, “when suddenly I saw Him, and He said:

“ ‘Yes, give Me to eat, for I am hungry . . . give Me to drink, for I am thirsty. You know well what I am hungry and thirsty for . . . souls . . . the souls I love so much. You can give Me to drink.’ ”

“He stayed all through the meal. Then He said: ‘Come with Me . . . do not leave Me alone.’ ”

He was planning for her to follow Him along a path of increased pain, and the next day He manifested Himself to her during her thanksgiving: “Offer everything to My Father in union with My sufferings. I will make you spend three hours every day in the dire distress and anguish of My Cross, and it will profit that soul exceedingly.”

Josefa never hesitated to accept these missions of suffering. Though she dreaded the favors, the responsibility of which was ever present to her mind, she was ready to take on herself the Cross which was destined to save souls. This Our Lord knew, and He counted on her, and made further demands on her generosity.

On Thursday, June 23rd, at Holy Mass, He appeared again:

“ ‘Today, I want you to get leave to make a Holy Hour. You will offer that sinner to the Eternal Father, reminding Him that it was for him that I suffered the agonies of Gethsemane. You will offer Him My Heart and your sufferings united to Mine. . . . Tell your Mother that these pains are a trifle in comparison with the joy which will be Mine when that soul returns to Me.’

“That night,” continued Josefa, “I awoke, as the pain was very severe, and soon after, Jesus came, crowned with thorns: ‘I come that we may suffer together.’

“He joined His hands and remained long in prayer. If only you could see how beautiful He is, Mother! His eyes look heavenward, and there is such mournful sadness on His countenance . . . a luminous ray fell on His face, a sort of reflection of Heaven.”

Many days and nights passed. Josefa noted down visits from her Master, who told her again and again of His thirst for souls and of His hopes. She, so to speak, watched this pursuit of love which tracked the path of a soul in peril. But while He made her responsible before God, Jesus wanted her collaboration with Himself to be entirely disinterested. When she asked Him whether the sinner was nearer conversion, He answered her on Tuesday, June 28th, while she was busy working:

“ ‘Mark My words, Josefa: if you are really desirous of pleasing Me, do not concern yourself with anything else than suffering, while giving Me all I ask of you, without trying to know the “how” and the “when.” ‘

“That night,” her notes continued, “Wednesday, June 29th, at two in the morning, suddenly Our Lady came. I said something about that soul and begged her to ask Jesus to remove from him the occasions of sin and to give him the grace and strength to cast sin away. Her eyes filled with tears and she replied: ‘Oh, how low he has fallen . . . he let himself be deceived like a lamb . . . but take courage, do all my Son tells you, and ask Him to load on you the punishment that that sinner deserves. If you do this, divine justice will spare him. Do not shrink from suffering, Josefa, you will never lack the strength you need, and when you can bear it no longer, I myself will give you courage and relief. I am the Refuge of Sinners; that soul will not be lost.’ ”

The next day, Thursday, June 30th, Our Lord appeared to Josefa after Communion and showed her the Wounds in His hands and feet, and taught her to discover the invisible wound of love. “Look at My Wounds,” He said. “Adore them . . . kiss them . . . they were caused not by souls, but by love.”

And as she was mute, not knowing what to say, He repeated: “Yes, they are caused by the love I have for souls . . . a love of compassion for sinners. . . . Ah! did they but know . . .”

Then, in silence, Josefa let her Master stamp that invisible wound on her soul, so as to share it with Him, and relieve His pain. “The greatest reward I can give a soul,” He continued, “is to make her a victim of My love and mercy, rendering her like Myself, who am the divine Victim for sinners.”

On the first of July, Feast of the Precious Blood, and the First Friday of the month, Our Lady came to put her in mind of the redemptive value of His blood, which she must make use of for the sinner.

“Adore the Precious Blood of my Son, daughter,” she said to her, “and beg of Him to pour it on that soul, that he may be touched, forgiven, and purified . . .”

Thus, as day succeeded day, Josefa was kept face to face with her mission.

“Do not stop uniting your actions to Mine and offering My precious Blood to My Father. . . .”

“Never forget that you are the victim of My Heart.”

But Our Lord was far from confining Josefa’s horizon to one soul, and on Friday, July 8th, He entrusted to her two other souls of whom He said: “See how they pierce My Heart and rend My hands.”

He returned again during her adoration: “Look at My Heart. It is all love and tenderness, but there are those who do not recognize this.”

We can easily conjecture the energy and generosity of effort that were required of Josefa to carry on this twofold life: on the one hand, days and nights passed in contact with the invisible, which entailed so great a sacrifice; on the other, the fidelity with which she kept to her work and to the Rule. With matchless kindness Our Lord allowed her to share in His joys as Saviour.

“He came during my adoration, so beautiful,” she wrote on Saturday, July 9th, “and He said to me: ‘See, Josefa, one of those two souls has at last given Me what she had so long refused Me, but the other is very near being lost unless she succeeds in seeing her utter nothingness. . . . ’ ”

“Yes, offer yourself to obtain her forgiveness. A soul will profit even after the greatest sins, if she humbles herself. It is pride that provokes My Father’s wrath, and it is loathed by Him with infinite hatred.”

“I am in search of those who will humble themselves to repair for this pride.”

On Tuesday, July 12th, she wrote:

“At about four in the afternoon He returned. His face was so grave and beautiful, and there was a gaping wound in His Heart: ‘Give Me your heart, Josefa, that I may fill it with the bitterness of My own; and offer yourself to repair the pride of that soul. Do not refuse Me anything; I am your strength.’

“Then glancing heavenwards, He said: ‘Pride blinds her . . . she forgets that I am her God and that without Me she can do nothing. Why does she want to rise in this world? I want you often to fall down in adoration before My Father, and to offer Him the humility of My Heart. Do not forget that without Me a soul is nothing more than an abyss of wretchedness. . . . I will raise up the humble, and make little of their frailties, and even of their falls, provided they have humility and love.’ ”

Weeks went by without a moment’s respite for Josefa. The pain in her side, the Crown of Thorns, her aching limbs, her soul burdened with the weight of divine anger . . . everything reminded her of the charge given her by Love.

But Our Lady came to give her fresh courage.

“It was three in the morning,” she wrote on the 22nd of July.

“Suddenly she came, and putting her two hands on my shoulders, she said: ‘Child of my heart! I come to aid and assist you, for I am your Mother. Nothing of what you endure is useless. You will have to go through another big trial to save that proud soul. As soon as you feel the approach of temptation, reveal it at once. Then obey, obey, obey . . .

“I told her that these two things are what cost me most at present.

“ ‘Listen, Josefa; now is the time to submit your judgment to obedience, and so you will be expiating the pride of that soul. The devil has little influence over her while you struggle . . . you must suffer for souls, you must be tempted, for, mark you, the archfiend dreads your fidelity . . . but take courage.’

“She blessed me and disappeared.”

In the early dawn, Our Lord Himself came to confirm His Mother’s words. It was after her Communion, purchased by such a hard fight.

“He was so beautiful,” she wrote, “although He wore His Crown of Thorns and had many bleeding wounds.

“ ‘Look at My wounds and greet them with a kiss. Know you whence they come? Love. Know you who opened My Heart? Love. And who crowned Me with thorns? Love. If I have loved you so much as to refuse no suffering for your sake, cannot you, Josefa, suffer without refusing Me anything? . . . Abandon yourself to Me.’ ”

By such words, Josefa’s will was linked more strongly than ever to that of her Lord.

The fruit of so much suffering had meanwhile ripened through the long weeks of oblations and struggles, as Josefa was soon to learn.

On July 25th, Jesus reminded her of their mutual promise of August 5th, 1920: “If you are faithful I will make the riches of My Heart known to you. You will indeed share My Cross, but I Myself will be your consolation, for you are My well-beloved.”

Then He added significantly: “Never do I break My word.”

That same evening news of the sinner came indirectly to Les Feuillants, and they were full of hope.

“I do not know how to thank enough,” she wrote the next day, Tuesday, July 26th, “all the more that I was still under the impression left on me by His words: ‘Never do I break My word.’

“He came,” she continued, “and said to me: ‘The work is not yet completed; I shall show that soul still greater mercy. All I ask of you is to be faithful.’ ”

On Wednesday, August 3rd, towards evening, Our Lord appeared radiant and said: “At last the sinner that has made Me suffer so much is in My Heart, Josefa.”

The next day, it was of the soul whose pride wounded Him so grievously that He reminded Josefa: “I want that soul to return to Me as quickly as possible. Are you willing to suffer for her? . . . Offer everything you do today for that intention. I will return soon.”

“That same evening, Jesus intimated His coming to me,” she wrote, “and I went to the tribune of the Noviceship. Instantly He came. His Heart no longer bore the wound that for so long the proud soul He had told me of had inflicted on Him.”

“ ‘Come,’ He said, ‘draw near and rest. That soul is in My Heart . . . ’ ”

It was on August 14th that Our Lord definitely confirmed the salvation of those souls so dearly bought.

That evening Jesus said to Josefa: “That soul left by Me on earth to purify herself is now in Heaven. As for the sinner, My Heart has completely won him. He will comfort Me from now on by responding to My love. And you? . . .” He continued. “Do you love Me? . . . I have plans for you, plans of love . . . do not refuse Me anything.”

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