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The Way Of Divine Love
by -Sr. Josefa Menendez



“Have you understood My love for souls?”
(Our Lord to Josefa, December 16th, 1922)

THE month of December 1922 brought to Les Feuillants a visit which was both a joy and a trial to Josefa.

One of the Mothers Assistant General of the Society of the Sacred Heart came from Rome to visit the houses in France. It was a great happiness to receive her at Poitiers, and her visit proved a source of grace for the house, its works, and its inmates.

Warm-hearted Josefa would have loved to share this joy, unalloyed by any haunting fear, but she felt her Mothers would submit many questions to the Visitor, and that she herself would be interrogated.

Her old fears re-awakened, though she trusted her Master.

“I recognized once again,” we find her writing on Wednesday, December 13th, “how faithfully Jesus keeps His promises. Our Mother Assistant General received me for a few moments . . . with a kindness I hardly dared expect. Our Lord, however, had told me several times: ‘If you are faithful, I shall not forsake you and nothing will do you any harm’; and that I see more clearly every day.”

The next day, Thursday, December 14th, He came again to the silence of her little cell: “Do you see how faithful a Father and Spouse I am to you? Never be afraid, even if you feel that the storm is about to break.” Then with an eagerness that His love could not restrain: “Tell the Mother that My Heart allows and disposes all things in view of My work . . . that owing to the Society many souls will be saved . . . that My words will rekindle the fervor of many of My chosen souls . . . and that many others who do not sufficiently appreciate the value of the smallest actions done with love will find in My words a source of grace and consolation.”

After He had answered all that still worried Josefa: “Adieu,” He said with overwhelming kindness, “abandon yourself to My care, and never doubt My love. It matters little even if you are often shaken by storms, your lowliness is deeply rooted in My Heart. I will come again to speak to you of My souls,” He added before departing, “now comfort Me. You may kiss My feet, if you wish. Later on I will bring you My Cross.”

Very soon after, Jesus brought it.

“I was waiting for Our Lord, and occupying myself meanwhile with some needlework,” she wrote on Friday, December 15th, “when towards half-past eight He came . . . He was bearing His Cross but with no sign of sadness. His Heart and eyes were more beautiful than ever.”

She could find no words to express her admiration. His attitude, His resplendent white raiment, and the Cross looming darkly against all this radiance was all so beautiful that she could not give an adequate idea of it.

“I knelt down and renewed my vows. I adored Him, and begged Him to give me true love, and I said to Him: ‘How glad I am, Lord, that Thou hast brought me Thy Cross.’ ”

“Do you want it?” He said at once—and as she offered herself to do His Will in all things—“Take it and console Me. Be busy about My interests, for I will look after you.” Then in response to the thought He read in her mind: “Yes, it is true that I have no need of anyone . . . but let Me ask you to love Me, and by you, to manifest Myself once more to souls. Let My Heart have free access and find repose in pouring out Its love on this group of chosen souls.

“I want all to know how eagerly I seek them out, how I long for them that I may fill them with happiness.

“Tell them not to be afraid of Me . . . and tell sinners not to flee from Me . . . Let them come and take refuge in My Heart! I will receive them with the most tender and paternal affection.

“And you, Josefa, love Me, and don’t be afraid of your weakness, for I will sustain you. You love Me and I love you, you are Mine and I am yours. What more do you want?”

“He said all this with such passionate fervor,” she wrote, “that He left me as it were lost in Him. How can I explain what went on in my soul? I asked Him to show me how to love Him, for I have no other desire on earth: to live and love my so-good Jesus!”

On the following day, Saturday, December 16th, Our Lord taught her the secret of true love.

“Today, you are going to console Me. Enter into the depths of My Heart and offer yourself to My Father with the merits of your Bridegroom. Beg Him to forgive the many souls that are ungrateful. Tell Him that even in your littleness you are prepared to repair for the sins mankind commits against Him. Tell Him what a miserable little victim you are, but that you are veiled in My blood.

“So you will spend the day imploring forgiveness and repairing for sin. I want you to unite your soul to the zeal that consumes My Heart. May souls really grasp that I am their joy and their reward . . . May they not flee from Me, for I love them so much . . . all of them! but I want My chosen souls especially to know how great a predilection I have for them.”

After speaking to her of the Society of the Sacred Heart, He concluded by saying: “And you yourself, Josefa, have you understood My love for souls?”

“Indeed I have, Lord, for You are always occupied about them.”

“That is why I love the Society and why My Heart reposes in it . . . For it has understood the value of souls and the glory of My Heart. Adieu, Josefa, comfort Me and make reparation.”

When leaving her Our Lord always gave her the same watchword: Love. As the days and the months went by, Josefa realized more and more that her life was to be one of reparation and that her vocation bound her to the redemptive Cross of Christ. This Our Lord stressed every time He came to her. He never led her outside the very sure path of her vocation, but urged her towards the true consequences of the total gift of herself to the Sacred Heart.

On Sunday, December 17th, He joined her in her cell a little before the nine o’clock Mass.

“You consoled Me yesterday,” He said to her, “because you stayed with Me. So many forget Me and so many others busy themselves about a thousand and one trifles, and leave Me alone for whole days . . . many others do not hear My voice . . . yet I am always speaking to them . . . but their hearts are earthbound and cling to creatures. I will tell you all this later on, and will let you know what consolation is given Me by souls, especially by My chosen ones, when they do not leave Me alone. . . . You will continue writing that they may know how dearly I love them. Go now . . . I will return.”

The nine o’clock Mass bell was ringing, she noted. Jesus had gone.

Five days passed, and on each of them Josefa expected the return of the Master who had said: “I will return.” But He did not come.

The sovereign freedom He exercised in her regard was not the least proof of His action. No doubt He loved abandonment in her, but did He not by the uncertainty, the suddenness of His coming, wish to give a proof that the visits really were from Him, so putting an end to all doubt on the subject?

On December 22nd, Josefa wrote:

“Five days have passed since Our Lord came, yet He said He would return . . . What troubles me is not to know if I have displeased Him in something, for I no longer have either His Cross or His Crown.”

Her notes continue:

“Before I went to bed, I knelt down to say goodnight to Him, as I always do, and I added: ‘Dear Lord, for five days I have been calling Thee, and Thou hast not come!’ ”

Hardly had she finished speaking when Our Lord appeared to her in all His radiant beauty: “Is it for five days that you have been calling Me, Josefa? And I, how many are the days, the months, the years, during which I have been calling souls but they give Me no answer. When you call Me, I am not far from you, but on the contrary very near. When I call souls, many do not hear Me . . . many go away, but you at least comfort Me by calling Me and longing for Me. Slake My thirst by your desire for Me.”

How many souls can read in these words escaped from the burning Heart of Jesus the reason why He keeps them waiting for His advent . . . how many, too, will take courage and draw happiness from the thought that they slake His thirst by offering to Him their desires for Him.

This period which had rooted Josefa firmly in her vocation of reparation, and inaugurated the Message she was destined to transmit to mankind, ended at Christmas in a scene of utter loveliness, which Josefa noted down in all its simplicity . . . her soul becoming more and more attuned to the littleness of the Infant God. But there was never any talk between them other than that of the redemption of souls. More than ever was this the link of love that bound them. We quote her words without commentary:

“Monday, December 25th, 1922: During Vespers I was telling the Infant Jesus once more how much I loved Him, for in spite of the great temptation of these last days, He knows very well that He is my sole love, my King, my treasure. I cannot live without Him . . . He is the joy of my life. I was saying this when suddenly I saw Him; He was quite tiny. He was held up by something I could not distinguish, and wrapped in a white veil which left only His little hands and feet uncovered. He held His little hands crossed on His breast, and His joyous eyes were so lovely, so full of joy, they seemed to speak. His hair was quite short; in fact everything about Him was little, and with the tenderest and sweetest voice He said to me: ‘Yes, Josefa, I am your King.’

“I was so overjoyed to see Him thus that I took up His word: ‘Yes, my Jesus, Thou art my King, and if my enemies and evil inclinations try to make me fall they will not succeed, for I will fight hard always to remain Thy very own.’

“ ‘It is just because you fight that I am your King. Be not afraid, the enemy will not take possession of the battlefield, for I will defend you, although I am so small . . . I want you to be small too. And now, Josefa, I am going to ask you for a gift. You will give it to Me, won’t you?’

“I was afraid of what He was going to ask me,” she wrote humbly, “but I answered: ‘Yes, Lord, with all my heart, but Thou must give me the strength, for Thou knowest what I am.’

“ ‘I want,’ said the Holy Child, ‘I want you to make Me a little tunic adorned with many souls . . . those souls My Heart loves.’ ”

Then coming back to His first idea: “ ‘You see how small I am? Well, I want you to be smaller still. Do you know how? . . . By simplicity, humility, and promptness in obedience. Then, Josefa, My Heart wants the warmth of love which only souls can give Me. Give Me that warmth, and give Me souls. I have prepared a great number for you. Do not delay My undertaking . . .

“ ‘If you give Me souls, I will give you My Heart. Which of us two will be giving the greater gift? . . .

“ ‘I will return soon. . . . Meanwhile, begin to fashion My tunic, and give Me souls by your love! See how many turn away. . . . Do not let them escape. . . . Poor souls . . . do not let them flee away, Josefa, for they little know where they are going!’

“He said all this,” she noted, “with so sweet a voice! When He began to speak He opened His little arms. He was so lovely, so ravishing that I was distressed at not being able to kiss His feet, but I dared not ask Him. He seemed all aglow. Indeed He was so beautiful that I cannot describe Him, and the tender sweetness of His utterance was ineffable.”

This entrancing Christmas feast was to have a morrow:

“As I was preparing for Holy Communion,” she continued, “on Tuesday, December 26th, I asked our Blessed Lady to give me her Son and to teach me to love Him and console Him. I spoke to her as one speaks to one’s mother, with great confidence, and after Communion I begged her to adore Him for me and to teach me how to thank Him.

“Suddenly, she stood there with the Holy Child on her right arm. She was clothed in the same pale rose colored vesture and veil as she wore two years ago and the Holy Child was wrapped in a white veil, as yesterday, only there was nothing to be seen of Him, not even His little head. Then she was so motherly and loving as she said to me:

“ ‘Look, my child, I bring you your Jesus,’ and at the same time she uncovered Him.

“ ‘Place Him deep down in your heart. See how cold He is! You can warm Him by your love. He is so good, and He loves you so much! Let Him be the sole King of your heart.’

“Whilst she spoke, the Holy Child lay still in her arms, gazing at her and sometimes at me. I told Our Lady how I longed to love Him, but that often I am not faithful enough to all He asks of me, especially when it is a message from Him that I must deliver. . . .”

This was the perpetual cause of self-reproach to her.

“Then in His sweet baby voice He said: ‘Mother, I have asked Josefa to make Me a little tunic adorned with many souls, for so many escape Me . . . and you know how many I entrust to those who love Me. If they respond to my expectations, this is the greatest consolation that they can give My Heart.’

“Our Lady at once replied: ‘Yes, give Him souls, and do not let any go away from Him . . . Look! He is going to weep!’

“I told Him that this is my one desire, but that often unknowingly I sadden Him and resist Him, because I let the devil deceive me.

“ ‘Do not fear, my child, Jesus asks only for your good will. Try your best and prove your affection in that way. Do you know how to do it? Jesus wants you to be very little . . . quite tiny, so tiny that you may be able to creep in here.’

“And with her hand she pointed to the empty space between her heart and the Holy Child who was reposing on it.

“She smiled as she said this,” wrote Josefa, “and the Holy Child looked at her and smiled too.

“ ‘You little know how happy you would be in there,’ the Blessed Virgin continued, and Jesus, waving His little arms, called out: ‘Just try, Josefa . . . and you will see . . .

“As they were both so sweetly kind, I again begged for forgiveness for having resisted . . . and for all that courses through my imagination in moments of temptation . . . Our Lady answered:

“ ‘Yes, you are right, there are moments when you are ungrateful. . . . Do you know why? It is because you are thinking of yourself more than of Him. Do not consider whether a thing costs you or not, prove your love by doing all He asks of you. If He tells you to speak, speak. If to be silent, then keep silence. If He tells you to love, then love. What does anything matter, if He takes care of you?’

“I promised her that I would obey Him, and as she began covering up the Holy Child before going, I asked leave to kiss His little feet.

“ ‘Yes, kiss them,’ she said.

“While I kissed them, Jesus stroked my head very gently with His tiny hand . . . I kissed Our Lady’s hand too. Then she covered up her Babe saying:

“ ‘Adieu, my child, do not forget the tunic. Comfort Him and give Him souls.’ Then they both went away.”

The graces of this exquisite vision ended on Wednesday, December 27th, when, on St. John’s feast-day, the friend of virgin souls appeared to her. Josefa described him as best she could:

“He came during my adoration. He was of majestic beauty, his right arm extended and his left hand resting on his heart. He is very tall, rather taller and stronger than Our Lord, and with rougher and more marked features. His eyes are black, and his face pale, with dark chestnut colored hair. He was enveloped in a very pure radiance and when he spoke it was so slowly and gravely that his words sank deep into my soul. His voice was both gentle and strong with something heavenly about it.

“I renewed my vows and then he said at once:

“ ‘Soul, beloved of the Sacred Heart, since this adorable Master takes delight in pure souls, I come to rekindle in yours the fire that must consume you with love for the Divine Heart.

“ ‘He loved us first; may our love respond to His, with gratitude, constancy, tenderness, and generosity, without any shred of self-interest. May His loving-kindness be ever present to our minds. . . . May it be the prime motive of a love that must seek the good and glory of the Beloved.

“ ‘Soul chosen by Jesus with so much love, take up your abode in His Heart. Let it catch the fire of His consuming love, and may you be purified and intoxicated with heavenly sweetness.

‘“May your passage on this earth be as that of the dove who barely touches ground. Like the bee on the flower, may your soul ask nothing of this life but the food that is absolutely necessary to its existence.

“ ‘The world is but a dark passage to one who loves the Divine Master.’

“He crossed his hands on his breast and was silent. He looked so beautiful that he might have been an angel. I was afraid to speak . . . At last I ventured to ask him if Our Lord received consolation from religious, He who so loves virginity . . . St. John looked up to Heaven and his face brightened as he replied:

“ ‘Virgin souls are the dwellings of love, where the Immaculate Lamb takes His rest. But among these souls some are the admiration of Heaven itself. On them, the heavenly Spouse fixes His most pure gaze and imbues them with sweet fragrance from His Heart.’

“Then extending his right arm he blessed me and said:

“ ‘Let Him possess and consume you. May all your care and zeal be concentrated on increasing His glory and love, and may His peace keep you.”

On the evening of this same day the signal grace Jesus had granted Josefa on the same date two years before was renewed.

“Towards eight o’clock He came, O! so beautiful . . . the wound in His Heart burning and wide open: ‘Come,’ He said, ‘enter into My Heart and rest there. Later on you will give Me yours to rest in.’

Then He plunged her in that abyss.

“I thought it was Heaven,” she wrote, incapable of saying more.

“It is impossible to explain what it means to enter into that Heart!”

After a little more than an hour of this ineffable repose, Jesus reminded her of the end and object of all these favors: “Do not forget that the souls I choose must be victims.”

Josefa could not forget it, for the Master’s plans were too deeply imprinted on her soul; she knew full well that henceforward their union would be consummated only on the Cross.

But at that moment when He reminded her of it, He willed to show her by a symbolic parable that it would always be love that would sign her with the Cross.

“As He was yet speaking, I saw,” she said, “a little pure white dove; her grey wings were extended as if to take flight towards the Heart of Jesus. But she was repulsed in this by a tongue of fire that issued from the wound and fell on her little head which was resplendently white. She bore a small black cross imprinted just below her throat.”

Josefa made no comment, but till her death she was from time to time to see this little white dove. However, by then the Master had explained the significance of the vision, which was an image of her soul.

For the moment the light went out, it was not yet time for her to take flight into the Heart of Jesus. A whole year of graces, struggles, trials of all sorts, still separated her from her final entry into this adorable Heart. But the fire of love would hold her captive in torments, that He might continue to reveal Himself to the world through her.








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