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The Way Of Divine Love
by -Sr. Josefa Menendez

“Love transforms and divinizes all.”
(Our Lord to Josefa, December 5th, 1922)

ON the morning of Wednesday, November 22nd, just before the Elevation at Mass, like the rising sun after a dark night, Our Lord showed Himself to Josefa, more beautiful than ever. His Heart glowed and seemed as if about to escape from His breast. He carried the Crown of Thorns in His right hand.

“I thought at once that He was going to give it to me,” she wrote naïvely, “but I did not dare ask for it. I renewed my vows and said the Divine Praises.”

For some weeks past Josefa had been enjoined by obedience to add the Divine Praises to the renewal of her vows. The devil was never able to repeat after her these words of love and benediction, whereas her heavenly visitants gladly repeated and commented on them.

“Josefa,” He said, while His heavenly glance rested on her, “Do you recognize Me? do you love Me? and do you know how much My Heart loves you?”

Such questions like arrows wounded and inflamed her heart.

“I know He loves me,” she wrote; “but to what extent I cannot understand. I, too, long to love Him without measure . . . although I cannot correspond to His loving-kindness . . . I told Him how happy I was yesterday at the renewal of vows, and I begged Him to keep me faithful, for He knows all the harm I am capable of.”

“ ‘Fear not, Josefa, for in spite of your littleness and occasional resistance, My work is going well, both in you and souls.’

“ ‘Lord, I do not understand what You mean by this work to which You so often allude.’ ”

Then Jesus, as it were recollecting Himself, spoke gravely and with force:

“You say you do not know what My work is? Josefa, it is one of love.

“No sabes cual es mi obra? … pues es de Amor!”

I want to use you who are of so little account to disclose to the world the mercy and love of My Heart. That is why I am glorified when left free to do with you and in you what I choose. Already your littleness and sufferings have saved many souls. . . . But later on the words and wishes that I transmit through you will fire the zeal of many others and prevent the loss of a multitude of souls, and men will get to know ever more how inexhaustible is the love and mercy of My Heart . . . I do not ask much from them, but I do ask their love.”

“Here,” she said, “I begged Him to give me that love . . . and I told Him once again how earnest is my desire to leave myself totally in His hands. With inexpressible kindness He placed the Crown of Thorns on my head saying: ‘Take My Crown, and may it remind you of your littleness . . . I love you, nor will My tender pity for you ever let Me forsake you. Love Me, console Me and abandon yourself to Me.’ ”

That evening, while she was making the Stations of the Cross, she saw Our Lord at the eleventh Station, and showing her His Cross, He said: “Josefa, My bride . . . I bore the Cross for love of you. Tell Me once more that for love of Me you are willing to bear the Cross that My Will offers you.”

Next day, November 23rd, He gave her to understand what the Cross He offered to her generosity was to be.

He began by saying: “It is in My Heart that souls who know how to deny themselves find true peace.” Then He added: “Ask the Mothers to grant you a few minutes every day in which to write down what I shall tell you.”

The time had come when He was about to reveal His secrets through her to the world. On Saturday, November 25th, in the course of the morning, He came to her in her cell. Josefa knelt in adoration of His Majesty, and leaving her thus prostrate at His feet, after a few moments of silence, He said: “As you renew your vows I want you to make an offering of entire submission to Me. I must be free and find no obstacle in your will to Mine. So now, write”:

Josefa listened and transcribed the grave and burning words that fell from the divine lips.

“I will begin by speaking to My chosen souls, and to all who are consecrated to Me. They must know Me, so as to be able to teach those I shall confide to their care all the kindness and tenderness of My Heart, and to tell all that if I am an infinitely just God, I am nonetheless an infinitely merciful Father. Let My chosen souls, My spouses, My religious, and priests, teach all poor souls how much I love them! All this I will teach you by degrees, and thus I shall be glorified in your abjection, in your littleness, in your nothingness. I do not love you for what you are . . . but for what you are not, that is to say, your wretchedness and nothingness, for thus I have found a place for My greatness and bounty.”

Here Jesus stopped: “Adieu, Josefa. Come again tomorrow. I will go on talking to you and you will pass on My words with burning zeal. Leave Me absolutely free, for in this am I glorified, and souls will be saved. Remember that I wish to be served in joy of heart and do not forget the nothingness of the instrument. Only love like Mine could close its eyes to your weakness . . . Love Me ardently, so as to correspond to My goodness to you.”

When night fell Our Lord brought her back His Cross. “How many sins will be committed tonight,” He said, “and how many will fall into Hell.”

This thought seemed to oppress His Heart. “You at least, Josefa, comfort Me and make reparation for so much ingratitude. How much I suffer when I consider that all I have done will be useless for so many souls. . . . Take My Cross and remain closely united to Me, for you are not alone.”

He vanished, leaving her His Cross. The hours of the night were passed under its weight, besides that of the many torments of soul and body to which she had now been for so long accustomed.

Towards morning Jesus returned. His countenance was still stamped with the impressive sorrow and beauty that Josefa was powerless to describe:

“Poor souls,” He said, “how many are eternally lost . . . but how many, too, will regain life. You cannot conceive how great is the reparatory value of suffering. . . . If you consent, I will often make you share with Me the grievous sorrow of My Heart, and thus you will comfort Me and save many souls. Adieu, think of Me, of souls and of My love.”

“Ever since Our Lord had asked the Mothers to give me time every day to write down His words,” she noted, “I was told to go to my cell between eight and nine o’clock in the morning. The postulants are at their housework then, so there is nothing to prevent me sewing or preparing their work.”

Faithful to these instructions, she repaired every day to her cell. As she waited for the coming of the Master she occupied herself with her needlework. Sometimes He came at once, at other times her waiting was in vain. Our Lord wished her to be pliant and abandoned. If by nine o’clock He had not come, she went back to her ordinary work.

On Sunday, November 26th, although He had arranged it with her the day before, He did not come. She did not allow this to trouble her and, following His counsels, she thought of Him, of souls, and of His love.

That evening as she was at her adoration before the Blessed Sacrament He came, bearing His Cross: “My bride, Josefa, I come to rest in you. . . . You cannot think how the world treats My Heart; sinners wound Me pitilessly, and not they alone but many others pierce Me with painful arrows.”

“I begged Him to come to us, for though we are so wretched (I speak for myself) we so long to love and console Him.”

“You know quite well that I already do so, do you not see how I come here to give rest to My Heart?

“Listen,” He continued patiently, “when I ask you to be My rest and consolation, you must not imagine that you are the only one who gives them to Me. If you could but understand My joy when souls leave Me free and by their deeds say: ‘Lord, Thou art the Master!’ Do you realize how much this comforts Me? Do you think that I am not glorified by it?

“Take My Cross,” He said, giving it to her, “but do not think that you are the only one to bear it for Me. I find repose and glory in you, but in other consecrated souls as well . . . who with so much love and submission receive and adore My Will and have no other interest but My glory.

“Take My Cross, Josefa. Ask mercy for sinners . . . light for the blind . . . love for hearts that are indifferent . . . Comfort Me, love Me, surrender. One act of abandonment glorifies Me more than many sacrifices.”

The next day, Monday, November 27th, at eight o’clock, Josefa was in her cell, waiting, but abandoned to His Will.

“First of all I wrote down all He had said to me yesterday,” she noted, “then I waited ready to do His bidding.” But as Jesus did not come, she was preparing to leave, when suddenly He showed Himself to her.

“Go to your work, Josefa,” He said. “Tomorrow I will tell My souls that My Heart is an abyss of love. Think of Me all the time. Souls glorify Me so much when they remember Me.”

Josefa went away carrying the Cross which was invisible to all eyes but which she felt weighing heavily upon her. She carried it through all her work, in her generosity preferring this burden to any amount of sweetness.

Early the next day, November 28th, she found Jesus already waiting for her in her cell.

Prostrate on her knees and following her usual bent towards self-reproach she asked Him to pardon whatever, even without her knowledge, might have displeased Him. “Have no fear,” He answered her; “I know you . . . but I so love you that no wretchedness in you will turn the glance of My love from you.”

Then with ardor too intense to be restrained, He began to speak and she gathered up His burning words:

In an admirable epitome of His whole redemptive life, Jesus showed infinite love as the central theme:

“I am all Love! My Heart is an abyss of love.

“It was love that made man and all existing things that they might be at his service.

“It was love that moved the Father to give His Son for man’s salvation which through his own fault he had lost.

“It was love that caused a Virgin who was little more than a child to renounce the charms of life in the Temple and consent to become the Mother of God, thereby accepting all the suffering involved in the Divine Maternity.

“It was love that caused Me to be born in the inclemency of winter, poor and destitute of everything.

“It was love that hid Me thirty years in complete obscurity and humble work.

“It was love that made Me choose solitude and silence . . . to live unknown and voluntarily to submit to the commands of My Mother and adopted Father. For love saw how in the course of ages many souls would follow My example and delight in conforming their lives to Mine.

“It was love that made Me embrace all the miseries of human nature, for the love of My Heart saw far ahead. I knew how many imperiled souls would be helped by the acts and sacrifices of others and so would recover life.

“It was love that made Me suffer the most ignominious contempt and horrible tortures . . . and shed all My blood and die on the Cross to save mankind and redeem the whole human race.

“And love saw how, in the future, many souls would unite themselves to My torments and dye their sufferings and actions, even the most ordinary, with My blood in order to win many souls to Me.

“I will teach you all this very clearly, Josefa, that men may know how far-reaching is the love of My Heart for them.

“And now go back to your work, and live in Me as I do in you.”

Josefa then left her cell, and gave the precious pages she had written to the Mothers. She herself never retained them, for she knew herself to be just a go-between, and her supernatural detachment grew as she realized the importance of all that was confided to her. But she kept deep down in her own heart the remembrance of the moments when Love’s depths were revealed to her. She was as it were invested with the sacredness of it all and it took all her natural energy of character to throw herself wholeheartedly into the work she shared with the Novices. So was the mystery of her life carried on.

The next day, Wednesday, November 29th, while she was waiting for Our Lord and working, suddenly her cell was filled with a soft effulgent light. It was not the Master who had come but the Apostle beloved of His Heart.

“I recognized him at once,” she wrote, “he held the Cross of Jesus in his hands. I renewed my vows and he said:

“ ‘Soul, loved of Our Divine Master, I am John the Evangelist, and I come to bestow His Cross on you. It does not wound the body, but makes the heart bleed . . . May the suffering it will cause you relieve the bitterness in which sinners steep the Heart of Our Lord and God. . . . May the blood of your heart be as a delicious vintage that will make known to many the sweetness and attractiveness of virginity . . . Unite your heart to Jesus in all you do. Keep carefully the precious evidences of His love. Fix your eyes on Heaven, for the things of earth are of no account. Suffering is the life of the soul and the soul that has understood its value lives the true life.”

Josefa had already noted on Holy Thursday, 1922, how heavenly was the expression of St. John’s countenance. He was a friend from the other world whom she was to see again many times, and whose every visit left her with a sense of peace and security. The Cross brought this day weighed chiefly on her soul.

“Although in peace,” she wrote, “my heart and soul are oppressed and in extreme suffering.

“The night of November 29th–30th was particularly crucifying. The Cross, the Crown of Thorns, and the pain in my side banished all sleep and obliged me to spend the whole night sitting beside my bed. On Thursday, November 30th, Jesus appeared at eight o’clock, faithful to His tryst:

“ ‘Write for My souls,’ He said. And with no other preamble He continued:

“ ‘The soul who constantly unites her life with Mine glorifies Me and does a great work for souls. Thus, if engaged in work of no value in itself . . . if she bathes it in My blood or unites it to the work I Myself did during My mortal life, it will greatly profit souls . . . more perhaps, than if she had preached to the whole world . . . and that, whether she studies, speaks or writes . . . whether she sews, sweeps or rests . . . provided first that the act is sanctioned by obedience or duty and not done from mere caprice; secondly, that it is done in intimate union with Me, with great purity of intention and covered with My blood.

“ ‘I so much want souls to understand this! It is not the action in itself that is of value; it is the intention with which it is done. When I swept and labored in the workshop of Nazareth, I gave as much glory to My Father as when I preached during My public life.

“ ‘There are many souls who in the eyes of the world fill important posts and they give My Heart great glory; this is true. But I have many hidden souls who in their humble labors are very useful workers in My vineyard, for they are moved by love, and they know how to cover their deeds with supernatural gold by bathing them in My blood. My love goes so far that My souls can draw great treasure out of mere nothing. When as soon as they wake they unite themselves to Me and offer their whole day with a burning desire that My Heart may use it for the profit of souls . . . when with love they perform their duties, hour by hour and moment by moment . . . how great is the treasure they amass in one day!

“ ‘I will reveal My love to them more and more . . . it is inexhaustible, and how easy it is for a loving soul to let itself be guided by love.’ ”

Jesus was silent. Josefa laid down her pen and for a few instants remained in adoration before Him who thus opened His Heart so widely before her. “Adieu,” He said at last, “go back to your work; love and suffer, for love is inseparable from suffering. Abandon yourself to the care of the best of Fathers . . . and to the love of the tenderest of Partners.”

This was ever the lesson dearest to God Our Saviour. His Cross is a choice gift, surpassing the most precious of favors. On this First Friday He left it to Josefa, who carried it both day and night.

On Saturday, December 2nd she noted simply:

“With great difficulty I managed to go to meditation, for my strength is gone.”

At eight o’clock, however, she was at her post, and Jesus soon joined her.

“Write for souls,” He said, as on the preceding day.

Josefa knelt at her small table, and Our Lord spoke, standing beside her.

“My Heart is all love and it embraces all souls, but how can I make My chosen souls understand My special love for them and how I wish to use them to save sinners and so many souls who are exposed to the perils of the world? For this reason I would like them to know how much I desire their perfection, and that it consists in doing their ordinary actions in intimate union with Me. If they once grasped this, they could divinize their life and all their activities by this close union with My Heart . . . and how great is the value of a divinized day!

“When a soul is burnt up with desire to love, nothing is a burden to her, but if she feels cold and spiritless everything becomes hard and difficult . . . Let her then come to My Heart to revive her courage . . . Let her offer Me her dejection, and unite it to My fervor; then she may rest content, for her day will be of incomparable value to souls. All human miseries are known to My Heart, and My compassion for them is great.

“But I desire souls to unite themselves to Me not only in a general way. I long for this union to be constant and intimate as it is between friends who live together; for even if they are not talking all the time, at least they look at each other, and their mutual affectionate little kindnesses are the fruit of their love.

“When a soul is in peace and consolation, doubtless it is easier for her to think of Me, but if she is in the throes of desolation and anguish, she need not fear. I am content with a glance. I understand, and this mere look will draw down on her special proofs of My tenderness.

“I will repeat again to souls how My Heart loves them . . . for I want them to know Me thoroughly, that they may make Me known to those I place in their care.

“I ardently desire My chosen souls to fix their eyes on Me, and never turn them away . . . and among them there should be no mediocrity, which usually is the result of a misunderstanding of My love. No! it is neither difficult nor hard to love My Heart, but on the contrary, it is sweet and easy. They need do nothing extraordinary to attain to a high degree of love: purity of intention, be the action great or small . . . intimate union with My Heart, and love will do the rest.”

Jesus stopped; then bending down towards Josefa who was prostrate at His feet: “Go,” He said, “and have no fear. It is I who cultivate this little flower, that it may not perish! Love Me in peace and joy.”

On the evening of this First Saturday of the month Our Lord came to comfort her distress, which was caused by the snares of the devil, who perpetually tried to take away her peace of mind.

“Remember the words I spoke to My disciples: ‘As you are not of the world, the world hateth you.’ Today I say to you: ‘Because you are not of the devil, Satan persecutes you.’ But in the midst of these torments My Heart is guarding you and is glorified. Love and suffer, Josefa, it is for a soul.”

And once more He charged her with one of His consecrated souls, whose love had grown cold, but to whose generosity He held so much.

“He went away,” she wrote, “leaving me His Cross.”

This Cross with all its attendant sufferings would weigh heavily on her during the nights and days that followed, while Josefa’s mind was fixed on the wound she divined in the Heart of her Lord.

Three days later, Tuesday, December 5th, He was already in her cell when she arrived. She renewed her vows.

“Yes,” He began by saying, “I am that Jesus who loves souls tenderly. . . . Behold this Heart that never ceases calling them, guarding them, and caring for them. . . . Behold this Heart on fire with longing for their love, but especially for the love of My chosen ones.”

Then as if these burning words had relieved His love:

“Write, write more for them.

“My Heart is not only an abyss of love, It is also an abyss of mercy; and knowing as I do that even My closest friends are not exempt from human frailties, I will each of their actions, however insignificant, to be clothed through Me with immense value for the help of those in need and for the salvation of sinners.

“All cannot preach nor evangelize distant uncivilized peoples, but all, yes, all can make My Heart known and loved . . . All can mutually help one another to increase the number of the saved by preventing the loss of many souls . . . and that, through My love and mercy.

“I will tell My chosen souls that My love for them goes further still; not only shall I make use of their daily life and of their least actions, but I will make use of their very wretchedness . . . their frailties . . . even of their falls, for the salvation of souls.

“Love transforms and divinizes everything, and mercy pardons all.”

After a moment of silence Jesus continued: “Adieu, I shall come back again to tell you My secrets. Meanwhile bear My Cross bravely. If you love Me I also love you. Do not forget this.”

As He had said, Jesus allowed her to wait several days, bearing His Cross all the time. Our Lady’s consoling presence was granted to her on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Josefa had suffered intensely all day. Her heart was in anguish, and that evening after Benediction she called on her Heavenly Mother to come to her aid.

“I entrusted my whole soul to her,” she wrote, “and begged her never to let go of my hand. Suddenly she stood there in all loveliness! Her hands were crossed upon her breast and her white veil reflected gleams of gold. She said only these words to me: ‘My child, if you want to give much glory to Jesus and save many souls . . . let Him do as He likes with you and give yourself up to His love.’

“She gave me her blessing, let me kiss her hand, and vanished.”

Josefa with renewed courage faced the offerings and suffering which were required to keep her faithful from one day to another.

But she was obsessed by one anxiety. It seemed to her that her companions had suspicions and misgivings on her account, and her humility and love of self-effacement took fright.

“I wanted to talk over all this with Our Lord during Vespers,” she wrote on Sunday, December 10th, “and hardly had I begun than He came: ‘Josefa, why are you sad? Tell Me all about it.’ ”

She renewed her vows and confided her anxieties to Him.

“I have told you that you will live hidden in My Heart, why do you doubt My love? . . . let My words reach many souls who need them.”

Then, humbling her still deeper in her nothingness: “In any case what does it concern you? When a person talks at the bottom of a large empty space, her voice resounds up to the highest point. So it is with you. You are the echo of My voice, but if I be silent, what are you then?”

Such words rooted her in the conviction of her nothingness and at the same time revivified her trust and peace.

“Is it I, Lord, who prevent your coming . . . for now five days have gone by without my seeing you?”

“ ‘No,’ He answered with compassionate kindness, ‘you do not prevent My coming, but I love to hear you call Me and long for Me. Soon I shall again come and speak to you of My souls. Besides, if you displease Me in anything, I will make you see your misery and nothingness and will manifest My sovereignty over you.

“ ‘Adieu. Stay hidden in My Heart and let yourself be trained in Love’s own way.’ ”

As He had said, Our Lord soon resumed the revelations of His Heart to Josefa, and on Tuesday, December 12th, He appeared at the accustomed hour. First of all He insisted on His promise to her:

“You, Josefa, as I told you, you must not give in to sadness, for My love takes care of you. I will not fail to hide you deep down in My Heart, and you must never doubt My love, nor forget that I have often told you what a little and miserable creature, a mere nothing, you are, and you must abandon yourself trustfully into the hands of your Creator, with entire submission to His Divine Will.

“And now, write a few more words for My souls:

“Love transforms their most ordinary actions and gives them an infinite value, but it does more: My Heart loves My chosen souls so tenderly, that I wish to use their miseries, their weaknesses, and often even their faults.

“Souls that see themselves overwhelmed with miseries, attribute nothing good to themselves, and their very abjectness clothes them with a certain humility that they would not have if they saw themselves to be less imperfect.

“When therefore in the course of apostolic work or in the carrying out of duties, a consciousness of their incapacity is forced upon them . . . or when they experience a kind of repugnance to helping souls towards perfection to which they know themselves to be still strangers, such souls are compelled to humble themselves in the dust, and should this self-knowledge impel them to My feet, asking pardon for their halting efforts, begging of My Heart the strength and courage they need, it is hardly possible for them to conceive how lovingly My Heart goes out to them and how marvelously fruitful I will make their labors.

“Those whose generosity is not equal to these daily endeavors and sacrifices, will see their lives go by full only of promise which never comes to fruition.

“But in this, distinguish: to souls who habitually promise and yet do no violence to themselves nor prove their abnegation and love in any way, I say: ‘Beware lest all this straw and stubble which you have gathered into your barns take fire or be scattered in an instant by the wind!’

“But there are others, and it is of them I now speak, who begin their day with a very good will and desire to prove their love. They pledge themselves to self-denial or generosity in this or that circumstance . . . But when the time comes they are prevented by self-love, temperament, health, or I know not what from carrying out what a few hours before they quite sincerely purposed to do. Nevertheless they speedily acknowledge their weakness and, filled with shame, beg for pardon, humble themselves, and renew their promise . . . Ah! Let them know that these souls please Me as much as if they had nothing with which to reproach themselves.”

Our Lord here establishes a very clear distinction between habitual venial sins, unresisted and consented to, and faults of frailty that are repaired.

He explains that the willed reparation gives Him more comfort than the fault of frailty gave Him displeasure. In fact, the humility, confidence, and generosity implied in an act of reparation presuppose awareness and complete consent of the will—a condition only partially fulfilled in the fault of frailty.

The bell was ringing for a community exercise, and Jesus, ever faithful to the first indication of obedience, disappeared in a flash.

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