Catholic Encyclopedia
Church Fathers
Classics Library
Church Documents
Prayer Requests
Ray of Hope
Social Doctrine

The Way Of Divine Love
by -Sr. Josefa Menendez

“See, have I not been faithful to you? Now My work is about to begin.”
(Our Lord to Josefa, July 16th, 1922)

IT was a truly heavenly day for Les Feuillants. In the house, where ceremonies of Clothing and First Vows were frequent, there was in the air a renewal of fervor and gladness, which never failed to surround the privileged few who were about to kneel before the altar and make their offering. The whole family joined in the festive joy of the day, and never does the motto of the Society “Cor unum et anima una in Corde Jesu” take on a more living reality than on such occasions.

On the morning of Sunday, July 16th, no one foresaw the marvels that were about to become realities in the life of the little novice, Josefa Menéndez. How jealously God had kept her in the shadow of His face! He had elaborated His plan, formed her and wrought in her, crushed and ground her, till the pattern He designed had been fashioned and molded. He had led her through chosen paths, and confounded Satan’s devices. His mercy had triumphed in her wretchedness and His power in her weakness. Today He Himself was about to lead her to the accomplishment of His great plans. The alliance was about to be sealed before Heaven and earth; and she would become His consecrated bride, not to enjoy Him indeed, but to aid in Love’s enterprise which would consummate the union between them.

She was the only novice to make her vows that day. The Chapel, bright with flowers, was filled by the children, and by her Mothers and Sisters in religion, when at eight o’clock Josefa entered with an air of recollected joy which was not of this earth. Her beloved mother and her sister Angela had come from Madrid. She knew they were there, and “these two loves of her heart,” as she called them, were part of the offering she was about to make. Her other sister, Mercedes, a religious of the Sacred Heart, was united to them in spirit, in her far-off convent of Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.

Nothing either in her attitude or face, so calm and radiant, betrayed the mysterious approach of heavenly visitants.

In the silence of prayer, which the liturgical chant interrupted from time to time, the usual ritual of the ceremony proceeded. After a short discourse by the celebrant who alluded to the austere joys of religious consecration, Josefa advanced to the altar rails, and with a firm voice answered the questions:

“Is it of your own free will that you renounce the world and all worldly hopes and expectations? And do you take Jesus Christ for your Spouse with all your heart?”

Her whole soul exulted in the words: “Yes, Father, with all my heart!”

She then received the crucifix on which is nailed the figure of “Him who must henceforth be your Model and the sole object of your love,” and the black veil about which the following is said: “Receive the yoke of the Lord, for His yoke is sweet and His burden light.”

Holy Mass began. When the solemn moment of Communion arrived, Josefa, all alone at the altar rails, in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament held before her by the celebrant, slowly with all the will and love of her heart, pronounced the vows which would unite her forever to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It was a moving moment to those who knew at what a price the favor had been bought, through what tempests her little bark had reached port, and what miracles of love had opened for her the Heart of Him who had been captivated by her littleness.

Human eyes saw only the simple offering, but another, and this a heavenly, scene was being enacted.

A few hours later Josefa, still deep in glad recollection, noted, so that she might never forget it, what Our Lord had been pleased to do for her.

“After the sermon, I went up to the altar rails to receive my crucifix of vows and black veil. Then suddenly I saw Our Lady present, O! so ravishingly lovely, all bathed in light. She held a veil in her hands, and when I returned to my prie-dieu, she herself put it on my head. All round her and framing her person were a number of radiant little faces which looked like those of tiny children, lit up with joy. With ineffable sweetness she said to me: ‘While you, beloved daughter, were suffering, these souls were weaving this veil for you. All those you prayed for have left Purgatory and are safe in Heaven for all eternity. There they will protect you.’

“It was an entrancing sight: Our Lady looked like a queen with her beautiful countenance all purity and tenderness, her golden raiment and her exquisitely molded hands . . . and then the souls . . . so many little heads—O! it was wonderful to see, and I cannot describe how profoundly it affected me. Besides, I was wrapped in the veil, and had my crucifix. I did not know what to say . . . I let the flood of happiness just roll over me . . . what else could I do?

“When Our Lady finished speaking, the little faces disappeared, one after the other. She gave me her blessing and disappeared, too. I thought myself in Heaven.

“Then came the moment—how brimming with emotion and joy—to read the formula of my vows and receive Holy Communion . . . and then, Jesus Himself came. His Heart was flooded with effulgent light, the Wound open wide, and from It issued a force that drew me into It, and I found myself deep down in Its depths.

“ ‘Now, I am satisfied,’ He said, ‘for I hold you prisoner in My Heart. From all eternity I have been yours; now, you are Mine forever. You will work for Me, and I will work for you. Your interests will be Mine, and Mine yours. I have been faithful to you, have I not, Josefa? And now My great work will begin.’ And saying this He vanished.”

A few hours later Josefa, whose heart was overflowing, wrote in her notes of retreat:

“Jesus has come; we are one . . . does He know what a miserable creature I am, and that in spite of my longing to please Him and love Him, I shall disappoint Him more than once, perhaps? . . . Yes, He knows it better than I do, but He loves me all the same, and He does not mind. He is ready beforehand to repair all my faults; that is why He has given me His Heart!”

Then she tried to find words which would express in detail the vows that bound her to this Sacred Heart:

“O Jesus, I thank Thee for the incomparable grace of my vows. What does my vow of Poverty mean to me? . . . I know that, hence-forward, I have no right to anything: everything I use is given me as an alms. I have given up, too, all that I most cherish, my mother, my sister, my home, my country, to possess only Jesus Christ. But above all I must be despoiled of myself. Jesus will be all in all to me and I shall have no other wish or ambition than for Him. He is my strength and my peace; I want nothing but Him, and nothing except what leads me to Him.

“What of my vow of Chastity? Ah! how happy I am in my religious life and none can deprive me of this treasure. The world no longer exists for me, and I am in a closed garden full of every variety of flower, and in this enclosure, and in the midst of these flowers I shall spend my life, for they are all set apart for the Heavenly Husbandman. He cultivates me and I give Him pleasure. He loves me and I love Him! . . . What else matters? O most pure Jesus, Bridegroom of virgin souls, I love Thee, for Thou art purity itself; that is what has attracted me from infancy. Jesus is the Spouse of Virgins! such were the words that attracted me as a child and made me relish the charms Thou reservest for consecrated souls, and ever since my soul has been the little flower that sheds its perfume for Thee, O Jesus! Never allow me to lose the spotlessness of grace or the love of virginity.

“And Obedience? It binds me to all legitimate authority, in which I see Thee and through whom Thou speakest to me and makest known to me Thy Will. But love must go further still; I must not only obey all authority, but listen to the interior voice to which I am sometimes deaf, because I find it too costly to follow its behests, or transmit what it tells me to transmit. . . . No, Lord, I will obey for love of Thee and will ask for no reasons, nor will I hesitate or complain, for it is not my will but Thine that must henceforth live in me, and all I do must be for Thee.

“All day,” she concluded, “I was so lighthearted that I did not know what to say to Jesus and His Mother!”

She seemed in very truth to be wrapped in heavenly peace, and sunk in God, but ever the same, kindly, simple, full of consideration for others. She spent the day giving joy to all around her. She paid visits to the infirm and sick, so as to give them the kiss of peace that she had been unable to give them in the Chapel. Her coming was a ray of sunshine and an expression of charity. All the time she could spare was spent with her mother and sister, for her supernatural tenderness as daughter and sister had suffered no change.

When evening came, in the much-desired silence of a prolonged adoration before the Blessed Sacrament exposed, she repeated her consecration to His Heart.

The following days only strengthened her gift of self, until the time when it was Our Lord’s intention openly to discover to her the plans of His Heart, thus realizing the words she had heard on the morning of her vows: “Now, My great work will begin.”

“On Tuesday, July 18th,” she wrote, “when the last bell rang, I left my mother and sister to go to the Chapel. As I went, I asked Jesus not to mind if I did not speak direct to Him quite so often these days, but to take as spoken to Himself all I shall say to them, for He knows I do it for love of Him.”

As she entered the oratory of Saint Madeleine Sophie, Our Lord became visible to her. “Josefa, My bride,” He said, “have no misgivings on this head. I am as much consoled as if you were with Me. See Me in them, and live in peace.”

On Saturday, July 22nd, at the beginning of Mass, He again appeared—“most beautiful to behold,” she wrote. “In one hand He held His Heart and with the other He beckoned to me: “Behold the prison I have prepared for you from all eternity,” He said. “In My Heart you will henceforth live lost and hidden forever.”

After Communion, He again spoke: “Josefa, My bride, let Me rejoice in you. My greatness will make your littleness disappear; from now on we shall labor together and as one: I shall live in you and you will live for souls.”

And when she timidly reminded Him of her frailty: “Let yourself be guided. . . . My Heart will do all that is needful, My mercy will be active, My love will annihilate your whole being.”

“Yesterday,” says a further note, “Our Lady came in the course of the morning.”

This peerless Mother seemed anxious lest Josefa should forget the dangers with which her path was beset:

“ ‘Be in peace, daughter,’ she said to me. ‘Have no reserves, and be wholly occupied with the present moment. Jesus will lead both you and your Superiors. Keep close to them, remain faithful and submissive to the will of my Son, especially in difficult moments.’ ”

Then after a few recommendations: “ ‘My divine Son intends to use this little instrument for His glory and that notwithstanding all the machinations of the enemy.’ ”

So from Mary’s own lips she gathered that the devil had not been quelled for long, for though unable to snatch her vocation from her, he would never cease trying to frustrate the plan he saw divinely inscribed on every page of Josefa’s life. She was at first disconcerted to find herself still weak in spite of the grace of her vows, when painful temptations again assailed her.

These repeated temptations always had the same aim: to exploit Josefa’s repugnances to God’s plan for her.

“On Wednesday, July 26th, I was telling Our Lady of this great disappointment,” she wrote, “asking her to obtain forgiveness for me from Jesus, to tell Him the joy it is to me to belong to Him, and how it is my one desire to love Him, but also would He deign to remember my lowliness; and as I was speaking to her so frankly and pouring out my troubles, Jesus Himself appeared. He came close to me and said: ‘Why fear? I am your Saviour and Bridegroom. If only souls understood all these two words imply. . . . That is the work I intend to do by your means. The most ardent longing of My Heart is that souls should be saved, and I want My consecrated ones, especially those of My Heart, to know how easily they can give Me souls. By you, I will let them know what treasures go to waste by their not sufficiently understanding these two words: Saviour and Spouse.’ ”

On the 27th Our Blessed Lady showed herself to Josefa during night prayers. “My dearest child, do not grieve overmuch at your weaknesses, which will occur again, but love will always be there to raise you up, for you are sustained by a Bridegroom who loves you and who is your God.”

A few days later she came with a message from Jesus, who was going to bring her His Cross:

“ ‘This night He will bring you His Cross,’ and resting her hand on my shoulder,” said Josefa, “she added: ‘Do not regard your wretchedness, but look at the treasure that is yours, for if you are all His, He is all yours.’ ”

A few hours later, during the night, Jesus appeared bathed in radiant light and brought her the Cross which she had not carried for a long time.

“ ‘Josefa, will you share the Cross of your Beloved?’ and He laid it on my right shoulder.

“ ‘Receive it with joy, and bear it with love, for you do this for the souls I love so much. Is it not lighter than before? That is because now we are united forever, and nothing will ever part us.’ ”

The Lord who allowed her the day to do her work knew she would be ever ready to console Him.

During the night of August 6th:

“I was already asleep when I heard His voice: ‘ Josefa, My bride!’

“There He stood, so surpassingly beautiful, bearing His Cross, and all encircled with light. I rose at once.

“ ‘I come to bring you My Cross.’

“And He unburdened Himself of it, laying it across my shoulder. I told Him what a joy it was to me to relieve Him of it in spite of my weakness.

“ ‘I bring it to you at night, for during the day I give it to other religious.’ ”

Then Josefa spoke to Him at once about souls and especially those of sinners, for this was a preoccupation that never left her.

“ ‘Yes, there are many who offend Me and many who are lost,’ He answered sadly, ‘but those who wound My Heart most are the much-loved ones who always keep something back, and do not give themselves wholly to Me. Yet, do I not show them clearly enough how dearly I love them? Do I not give them My whole Heart?’

“I begged His forgiveness for them and for myself who so often keep back something,” she continued humbly, “and I begged Him to accept as reparation the acts and the love of those who want to console Him. He answered gently: ‘That is My intention . . . to repair the faults of some by the acts of others.’ ”

That night spent under the Cross was a fitting and immediate preparation for Sunday, August 6th, 1922, a memorable date in Josefa’s history, for it opened out new prospects of the great work that awaited her. But the divine Master who can work only through the nothingness of His instruments, wished first of all to emphasize once more this need of His Heart. She wrote:

“After Communion Our Lord came in all His beauty; His Heart was wounded and open wide and He began by looking at me; then with great compassion He said: ‘Misery! Nothingness! Such you are. . . . Little still implies some being, but, Josefa, you are less than that, you are nothingness personified.’

“He said this so lovingly that my heart was unlocked, and I simply poured it out: ‘Yes, my Master, how true. . . . I am nothing and would like to be less than nothing, for nothingness never resists or offends Thee, since it does not exist, while I do resist and do offend Thee.’

“He came back during the second Mass and drawing me close to His Heart, He said: ‘Are you, then, quite convinced of your nothingness? From now on, none of the words I say to you will ever be blotted out.’

“I told Him that the thought of His putting His work of love into my unworthy hands causes me great alarm, for in spite of my good will, I have a tremendous capacity for evil.

“From His Heart there sprang a flame that burnt me.

“ ‘Begin My work, but holding on tight to My Mother’s hand the while. . . . Will not that give you courage?’ “

“Agarrada”—clutching, clinging to, a word which does not translate easily.

Josefa’s heart bounded at these words, for nothing gave her greater security than to be in the hands of Mary whom she so loved. “Yes, Lord,” she answered spontaneously, “great courage and great confidence. Tell me what I can do to obtain from this dear Mother that she should never let me fail Thee in Thy work but keep me always faithful to Thy plans, and protect me, and that Thy Heart should sustain me; I desire nothing else.”

There was a moment of impressive silence, after which Jesus spoke slowly and reflectingly words of extreme importance.

“As My Heart wishes to use abject instruments to carry out this work, the greatest of My Love, this is what you must do as a beginning during the days that precede My Mother’s Assumption. You must ponder on and realize the nothingness of the instruments used. Trust wholly to the mercy of My Heart, and promise most solemnly never to resist or refuse Me what I ask of you, however crucifying it may seem.

“On Thursday you will make a Holy Hour to comfort Me for the resistance I meet with from souls consecrated to Me.

“On Friday, I ask of you an act of reparation for the offenses and sorrows inflicted on Me by these same souls.”

That night when writing down Our Lord’s words, Josefa was deeply struck at the memory of the grave solemnity with which He had spoken. She dared not go on writing lest she should record them inaccurately, and distort her Master’s meaning. He deigned to appear and dictate to her what follows:

“ ‘It is of no consequence! When you write I will tell you what you have to say. None of My words will be lost. Nothing that I tell you will ever be blotted out. It signifies little that you are so worthless and wretched, for it is I who will do all.

“ ‘I will make it known that My work rests on nothingness and misery—such is the first link in the chain of love that I have prepared for souls from all eternity. I will use you to show that I love misery, littleness, and absolute nothingness.

“ ‘I will reveal to souls the excess of My love and how far I will go in forgiveness, and how even their faults will be used by Me with blind indulgence . . . yes, write . . . with blind indulgence. I see the very depths of souls, I see how they would please, console and glorify Me, and the act of humility they are obliged to make when they see themselves so feeble, is solace and glory to My Heart. What does their helplessness matter? Cannot I supply all their deficiencies? I will show how My Heart uses their very weakness to give life to many souls that have lost it.

“ ‘I will make known that the measure of My love and mercy for fallen souls is limitless. I want to forgive them. It rests Me to forgive. I am ever there, waiting, with boundless love till souls come to Me. Let them come, nor be discouraged. Let them fearlessly throw themselves into My arms! I am their Father.

“ ‘Many of My religious do not understand all they can do to draw those steeped in ignorance to My Heart. They do not know how I yearn to draw them to Myself and give them life . . . true life.

“ ‘Yes, Josefa, I will teach you the secrets of My love, and you will be a living example of My mercy, for if I have such love and predilection for you who are of no account whatever, what am I not ready to do for others more generous than you?’

“He allowed me to kiss His feet, and then He went away.”

From this time on, whenever Josefa had to transmit a message from the Heart of Jesus to the world, He would be there. . . . He would speak with all the expansiveness of the most burning love, and Josefa would write at His dictation these appeals, one by one, as they fell from His sacred lips.

In the notebooks, these passages are underlined in red ink to make them stand out as exceptionally important.

“On Monday, August 7th, after Communion,” she said, “Our Lord appeared, beautiful as ever.

“ ‘What is it you want to tell Me, Josefa?’

“ ‘Lord, may I renew my vows, so that I may be obedient?’

[It will be remembered that many months ago this order had been given her, that the snares laid for her by the infernal enemy might be discovered.]

“Whilst I was renewing them, He looked at me with tenderness and compassion. ‘Come, since you are nothing, enter My Heart. How easy it is for a mere nothing to lose itself in that abyss of love.’ ”

“Then He made me enter His Heart . . .” wrote Josefa, but she could not comment on so mysterious a favor.

When at last she emerged from the unfathomable depths of Love’s home, He said:

“ ‘That is how I will consume your littleness and nothingness.

“ ‘I will act through you, speak through you, and make Myself known through you. How many will find life in My words! How many will take new courage as they understand the fruit to be drawn from their efforts! A little act of generosity, of patience, of poverty . . . may become treasure that will win a great number of souls to My Heart . . . You, Josefa, will soon pass out of sight, but My words will remain.’

“Asi ire consumiendo tu pequeñez y tu miscria. Yo abrare en ti. Yo hablare por ti…. Me hare conocer por ti. Cuantas almas encontraran la vida en mis palabras! Como cobraran animo viendo el fruto de sus trabajos…. Un actito pequeño de generosidad, de paciencia, de pobreza, etc…. puede ser un tesoro que de a mi Corazón gran numero de almas. Pronto, tu no existiras, pues mis palabras viviran siempre…”

“Then I ventured to tell Him how fainthearted I feel, for I am always afraid of not being faithful; He looked at me with eyes of unimaginable beauty and clemency, and said: ‘Fear not! I will mold and use you as seems best for My glory and for the profit of souls. Give yourself over to love, let yourself be guided by love, and live lost in love.’ “

Josefa noted down a few days later words which at the time she did not dare tell Reverend Mother: “You will die soon. I will warn you a little beforehand, so that your Mother can tell the Bishop everything. But do not be alarmed, for not many days after you will be with Me in Heaven.”

Copyright ©1999-2018 e-Catholic2000.com