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The Way Of Divine Love
by -Sr. Josefa Menendez

“I wish to use you for a great undertaking.”
(Our Lord to Josefa, July 26th, 1921)

IN August 1921 a work of reparation in which Our Lord had invited Josefa to cooperate came to a successful end. In order to follow it from day to day, we must go back to Tuesday, July 26th, when after Communion Our Lord had asked her: “Are you prepared to follow Me faithfully?”

“I told Him my fears on account of my weakness,” wrote Josefa, “but as regards my desires, He knows them well enough.

“ ‘I am about to make use of you for a great undertaking. You must bring back to My Heart a community that has wandered away from Me. I want these consecrated souls to come back here.’

“And He pointed to His Heart. I asked Him what I could do.

“ ‘Go on doing what I taught you to do for that sinner; offer all My blood; its price is infinite.’

“He came back towards midday, bearing a heavy cross,” continued Josefa.

“ ‘I come to bring you My Cross,’ He said. ‘I want to take it off My shoulders and lay it on yours.’

“Then He remained without a cross, and I was weighed down by such intense suffering that had He not given me special grace I could not have borne it.

“ ‘I have chosen nine souls for this work,’ He went on. ‘When I leave you, I will go to another, and so I shall always be comforted by one or other of My consecrated souls.’

“He remained in silence for a few minutes; then, as if speaking to Himself: ‘It is true that many wound Me by their ingratitude, but there are more souls in whom I can rest and who are My delight.’ ”

Josefa, thus weighed down, went to her ordinary work. Her Master was still present and He said to her: “Let us work together.”

As they were alone at the time, she occasionally knelt to adore Him and offer herself to His good pleasure.

“ ‘I want you not only to draw these souls closer to Me, but to pay their debt, so that they owe no further reparation to My Father,’ He explained.

“It was four o’clock when He said to me: ‘Now I am going, and I will come back when your turn comes round again.’

“He took His Cross and vanished . . . and all suffering left me.”

Henceforward, these long hours of expiation recurred at fixed periods, Our Lord going from one to another of the souls He had chosen to carry His Cross. After Communion on July 27th He appeared to Josefa: “I come to rest with you,” He said. “I want you to forget yourself and to comfort Me, to think of Me so much and love Me so vehemently that I alone fill your mind and aspirations. Do not be afraid of suffering. . . . I am powerful enough to take care of you.”

She at once spoke to Him of the work of love begun on the preceding day:

“And as if I had reminded Him of a great sorrow, He answered: ‘It is a tepid and relaxed community . . .

“Then, after a moment’s silence, He resumed: ‘But they will be Mine . . . They will return to My Heart. It is to bring them back that I have chosen nine victims. There is nothing of greater value than suffering, when united to My Heart. I shall bring you My Cross tonight. I shall come at midnight, for that is your hour when your turn comes round.’ ”

That same evening Our Lady came to entrust Josefa with a soul in peril:

“ ‘Till tomorrow I should like you to put all your enthusiasm into saving a child I dearly love,’ she said. ‘Jesus, casting His eyes upon her, had given her the treasure of a vocation; but she lost it by her want of correspondence. She will die tomorrow, and what pains me most is that she has thrown away her scapular. How much my heart would be comforted if this child could be saved.’

“She gave me her blessing and disappeared.

“I was unable to sleep all night, for I was in great distress at the thought of this child so near her death. Besides, there was the pain in my side, the Crown of Thorns, and all the accumulated sufferings of each night. Towards midnight Jesus came with His Cross. He stayed beside me, but without the Cross, which I felt weighing on my body as a crushing load, while my soul was oppressed with unspeakable sadness.”

The weight of this invisible Cross pressed on Josefa’s right shoulder, and doubled her in two, almost crushing her. Her breathing, already so painful on account of the pain in her side, became more and more labored, and efforts to help her were quite ineffectual.

“Suffer with courage,” Our Lord said to her, “that My religious may let themselves be pierced by this arrow of love.” And from His Heart there issued a ray of fire.

“Kiss My hands and My feet, and repeat after Me: ‘Father, is not the blood of Thy Son of sufficient value? What more dost Thou require? His Heart, His wounds, His blood . . . He offers Thee all for the salvation of these souls.’ ”

“I repeated the words after Him,” wrote Josefa next day. “There were long pauses of silence. I think He was praying, for His hands were clasped and He was looking up to Heaven . . . At four in the morning He said: ‘Now I leave you, for another of My beloved ones awaits Me. You know there are nine of you . . . all chosen by My Heart. . . . I will return tomorrow at one o’clock and will give you My Cross again. . . . Adieu, I was thirsty and you have slaked My thirst. I shall be your reward.’ ”

On Friday, July 29th, at one in the afternoon, as He had said, Jesus returned with His Cross. “I have come,” He said, “to make you share in the bitterness of My Heart, which is oppressed with sorrow.”

He gave her His Cross, which at once plunged her whole being into the pain she had already experienced these last two days.

“Much blood poured from the wound in His Heart,” she wrote.

“ ‘Repeat after Me,’ He told her: ‘ “Eternal Father, look upon those souls reddened with the blood of Thy Son Jesus Christ, the Victim which is unceasingly offered Thee. Will this blood which purifies, burns and consumes, be powerful enough to touch these souls? . . .”

“He remained in silence for a few minutes. I repeated the words several times; then He spoke with energy: ‘Yes, I want them to return to Me. I want them to burn with love, while I am consumed for them with sorrowful love.’

“Then He added sadly: ‘Ah, if souls only understood how ardently I desire to communicate Myself to them! But how few do understand . . . and how deeply this wounds My Heart.’

“I comforted Him as best I could, and begged Him to forget for a while the souls that grieved Him, and to think rather of those that love and console Him. His Heart seemed to expand at these words.

“ ‘I am the one joy of souls. Why do they go away from Me?’

“ ‘Dear Lord, all do not go away . . . and if we often fall, it is because of our frailty. . . . Thou knowest it well!’

“ ‘I would condone their falls . . . and I am not unmindful of their wretchedness, but what I want is that they should not remain deaf to My appeal and that they should not turn away from the arms outstretched to raise them up.’

“From one to four in the afternoon I spent in offering His blood and all His merits to the Father, and in repeating the prayer He had taught me.”

In the silence that surrounded her, Josefa resumed her work as soon as Jesus had taken away His Cross, but her soul still bore the dolorous impress of the secret imparted to her by Our Lady.

Her hour of guard recurred on the evening of Saturday, July 30th:

“I was going up the school stairs, when I met Him with His Cross. He told me that He was waiting for me. After asking His leave to put away the work I was carrying,” she continued, “I went to the room where I sleep, and found Him waiting.”

Then, she spoke to Him of the soul that had been unfaithful to her vocation, and had been placed in her keeping by Our Lady.

Since the day before, when the fury of the devil had made her suffer much, she knew through Our Lady that this much-loved child had escaped the infernal assaults. But during the preceding night she had appeared to her in the pains of Purgatory, begging her intercession that her sufferings might be shortened. Josefa was much affected by this first contact with Purgatory, and she confided her fears to Our Lord: “Lord, if a person of the world can suffer such torments, what must not a religious endure? That is, if she does not use the graces she receives in such abundance. . . .”

“Quite true,” was the reply.

Then with great tenderness He comforted her:

“ ‘When one of My religious falls, I am always there to raise her up, if she humbles herself lovingly. A soul’s wretchedness matters little provided her one desire is to glorify and console Me. In her very lowliness she obtains many graces for others.

“ ‘I love humility . . . and it is pride that turns so many away from Me.

“ ‘I want your sacrifices and zeal to draw souls, especially consecrated ones, to My Heart. I want your desire to see Me loved and to gain souls to Me to consume you, and your love to comfort Me.’

“He then kept silence for a long time, and I said everything I could to comfort Him . . . and I spoke to Him of a soul that needs His help.

“ ‘If she does not look for strength in My Heart, where will she find it? Love gives strength, but self must be forgotten.’

“Then I said: ‘Lord, forgive us; we are so feeble.’

“ ‘When a soul ardently desires to be faithful to Me, Josefa, I uphold her in her weakness, and even her falls are a call on My mercy and clemency. But she must forget herself, and make efforts in all humility, not for her satisfaction, but for My glory.’ ”

We have now reached August 3rd, when Jesus, having conquered the sinner that had cost Josefa so much suffering, appeared, saying: “That sinner is now in My Heart.”

That same evening, on going to the dormitory, as she drew back the curtain of her cubicle she found her Master with His Cross waiting for her there.

“Take My Cross,” He said. “I come to rest in you. Ah, if religious souls but knew how great My love for them is and how they wound Me by their coldness and tepidity! These souls do not know the dangers they run by neglecting their faults. They begin by a small infidelity and end by relaxation. Today, they grant themselves a slight indulgence; tomorrow, they are deaf to an inspiration of grace, and little by little without realizing it they allow their love to grow cold.”

And to make Josefa realize where alone lie the safeguards of fidelity, He gave her this valuable lesson: “I will tell you now, Josefa, how to open your heart to your Mother in all simplicity and humility.”

The point in question is that openness with Superiors, which is spontaneous and always free in the religious life.

“I want you to be holy, very holy, and you will only become so by the path of humility and obedience. . . . I will show you all this by degrees. . . .”

Before leaving her, He concluded with these words: “I advise you always to keep before your eyes, and rooted in your heart these two important principles. First: God has specially cast His eyes on you, to manifest His power the better, by raising a great edifice on foundations of utter insufficiency. Second: If He wants to lead you to the right and you insist on going to the left, the loss of your soul is assured. Lastly, Josefa, let the result of all this be a deeper consciousness of your own powerlessness and a more complete surrender of yourself into the hands of your God.”

This lesson of confidence and humility is so dear to the Heart of Jesus that He will come back upon it many a time yet.

The following counsels found in Josefa’s notes and carefully preserved by her are enlightening.

“I wish to make known to you the most intimate attractions of My Heart. I have already told you with what simplicity you must confide in your Mother and open your soul to her without allowing yourself the smallest reservation in your avowals. Today I wish to advise you never to lose an occasion of humbling yourself. When you are free to make or not make one of these costly acts, go and do it.

“I want you to give an account to your Mother of the efforts you have made, and of the occasions you have either made use of or lost. The better you know what you are, the better you will know what I am.

“Never go to rest at night with the slightest shadow obscuring your soul. This I recommend to you with great insistence. When you commit a fault, repair it at once. I wish your soul to be as pure as crystal.

“Do not let your falls, however many, trouble you. It is trouble and worry that keep a soul from God.

“I want you to be very little and very humble, and always gay. Yes, I want you to live in joy, while endeavoring all the time to be something of an executioner to self. Often choose what costs you, but without loss of joy and gladness, for by serving Me in peace and happiness you will give the most glory to My Heart.”

This very clear statement kept Josefa in the straight path and at the same time taught her that it was the only one in which, following their Master, the workers of His Redemption must tread.

Thus the “great undertaking”—for this was Our Lord’s name for it—went on. Josefa continued to carry the Cross which Jesus gave to the nine chosen souls in turn, so that the consecrated souls He was pursuing might be brought back to fervor. This work was, however, about to be completed.

During Mass on August 5th He came resplendent in beauty:

“ ‘I want you,’ He said, ‘to burn with love of Me. I have already made it clear to you that you will find happiness nowhere but in My Heart. I want you to love Me . . . I hunger for love . . . but I also want you to burn with desire to see Me loved, and this must be the one food of your soul.’

“I said many endearing things to Him, and Jesus continued:

‘Every day after Communion repeat with all the fervor of which you are capable: “Heart of Jesus, may the whole world be set on fire with Thy love.”’ ”

It was in this kind of fiery fervor that she spent the day “full of ardent desires” as she herself noted.

Towards nightfall she went up to the dormitory. Jesus was waiting for her: “Take My Cross and let us go and suffer for souls.”

After a moment’s silence, He added: “If My consecrated souls have reflected that I am all love, and that My supreme desire is to be loved in return, why do they treat Me as they do?”

Then He explained to Josefa how love enhances the smallest acts:

“ ‘When a soul does a costly act out of self-interest or to please herself, but not out of love, she gains little merit. On the other hand, a very little thing offered with great love consoles My Heart so much that It inclines towards her, and forgets all her worthlessness.

“ ‘Yes,’ He repeated, ‘My one desire is to be loved. If souls but knew the excess of My love they would not disregard it . . . that is why I go seeking them out and spare nothing to get them to come back to Me.’

“He said all this in a very moving way; it was a veritable cry of Love; then He remained long in silence, as if in prayer. At eleven o’clock, He left me, saying: ‘Suffer with great love . . . never cease offering My blood for souls. And now give Me back My Cross.’ ”

Three days passed during which besides the mysterious pains that associated Josefa with the Cross of Christ, a costly offering had been asked of the whole house: the changes usual in all religious congregations now demanded of Les Feuillants the sacrifice of their Superior. Josefa, with all her Mothers and Sisters, shared in this meritorious offering, and Our Lord used it to finish His work.

Monday, August 8th, was to be for Les Feuillants one of those days treasured by the Heart of Jesus when Mothers and Sisters, united in the fervent offering of a costly sacrifice, bid good-bye to one they love.

After Communion Our Lord showed Himself to Josefa: “Those souls must come back to Me without further delay. Pray hard that they may allow grace to penetrate them. Although you can do no more than desire to see Me loved, this is already much. It relieves My Heart. For this longing is love. Those religious are soon going into retreat; offer yourself, that love may pierce them through and through.”

That evening at seven o’clock, Jesus returned, this time without His Cross, His Heart and Wounds shining brightly. Josefa hardly dared believe in the hope, which she felt, at the sight of the radiance of His sacred face. She asked for the Cross.

“No,” He answered, “these souls no longer wound My Heart. I accepted for their benefit the sacrifice made by this household today, for I found much love here. Tomorrow that religious community will go into retreat, and soon will become for My Heart a refuge of much consolation.”

Thus ended this tale of divine mercies. Josefa, too, was about to enter on a new phase of her life.

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