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The Way Of Divine Love
by -Sr. Josefa Menendez

“The work of Jesus must be founded on much pain and love.”
(Our Lady to Josefa, January 21st, 1923)

WE have reached the opening months of 1923, the year that was to end in Josefa’s death. It is therefore a last stage that is beginning, and she knew it. On the preceding December 3rd, during a ceremony of Confirmation in the Convent Chapel, Our Lady had told her that she would have to transmit Our Lord’s words to the Bishop of Poitiers, and she added: “You will see him three times before your death.”

Heaven was almost in sight, and this gave Josefa courage. She needed this courage, for many shadows were to darken her path, and in the first days of January new trials began. The devil again made his appearance, and renewed his previous attacks. But in the midst of blows and threats, abductions, and long hours spent in Hell . . . Jesus engraved His own likeness in her and in the same measure associated her with His redemptive work. She was saving souls and preparing the way for His Message of love. In vain Satan grew infuriated, and if occasionally he thought he had triumphed, when the hour marked by the Master of Heaven and Hell struck, he vanished in a howl of blasphemy . . .

On Monday, January 8th, Josefa wrote:

“I had a great longing for Jesus this morning. The moment of Communion is a great alleviation to me in these terrible sufferings. Today, after a night of horror spent in Hell, I had an overwhelming longing for Him. As I was returning from the altar rails, I saw Our Lord, walking in front of me. He turned back and said to me: ‘Come, Josefa, My Heart awaits you.’

“At once I renewed my vows, and Jesus repeated: ‘Yes, My Heart awaits you.’

“I renewed my vows again, and Jesus went on ‘You have given Me rest, it is now My turn to rest you.’

“Then His Heart opened and He made me enter in.”

A few moments which Josefa characterized as “moments of Heaven” were passed by her in that divine dwelling . . .

“When I came forth again, she wrote, “I told Him of my fear of the devil and his threats . . . I begged Him never to allow him to delude me.

“ ‘Why are you afraid?’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you not know that I am more powerful than all your enemies? The devil with all his raging fury can do no more than I permit. It is I who allow the souls I love to suffer. Suffering is necessary for all, but how much more for My chosen souls! . . . It purifies them, and I am thus able to make use of them to snatch many from Hell fire.’ ”

And alluding to the vain threats she continually heard:

“ ‘Do not fear,’ He said, ‘but trust yourself to My Heart, for I guard you as the apple of My eye. Yes, Josefa, this house is much loved by My Heart . . . although I have more than once poured into it the bitterness of My chalice . . . I will return soon that you may again write the secrets of My love. . . . Meanwhile, go on working at My tunic.’ ”

After thus reminding her of His Christmas present, Jesus disappeared, and Josefa returned to her obscure and stormy path.

Once more, on January 21st, a heavenly light shone on her dark night. Our Lady was ever near her child in such sorrowful hours.

On that Sunday morning with its comparative leisure, Josefa finished her notes. It was a labor that cost her obedience much, especially when she had to recount what she had seen in the bottomless pit, into which at this time she was frequently forced to descend.

“I have done it to obey and to show Jesus my love,” she wrote.

Towards evening Our Lady appeared to her in the Chapel, and told her how meritorious the act had been.

“As you overcame your repugnance through love,” she said, “Heaven opened today to a soul whose salvation was in great peril. If you only knew how many souls can be saved by those little acts!”

“She was so sweet and gentle that I took courage to confide several things to her,” said Josefa, and she answered:

“Jesus wishes His words to remain hidden as long as you live. After your death, they will be known from one end of the earth to the other, and in their light many souls will be saved through confidence and abandonment to the merciful Heart of Jesus.”

And as Josefa, ever fearful of such great happenings, expressed her anxiety to this best of Mothers:

“My child,” she answered tenderly, “why be afraid? The work of Jesus must be founded on much pain and love . . . banish fear; Jesus is almighty and it is He who acts. He is strong and He will sustain you. He is merciful and He loves you.”

Then she warned her of further tribulations to be encountered: “He reads the depths of all hearts and it is He who permits circumstances to be as they are. If His plans often seem to you to be hindered, it is because He wants to keep you very humble and very lowly.”

Josefa told her that she feared herself to be an obstacle to His plans.

“It is true that you are a very wretched little being,” Our Lady said with compassion, “but that is just why Jesus has pity on you and why He hides you in the depths of His Heart so that nothing can possibly harm you. Humble yourself in your littleness and misery, my child. Trust Him, for He loves you and will never forsake you. Let your only ambition be to win many souls for Him, to give Him much glory and much love.”

“I asked her to bless me. She made the Sign of the Cross on my forehead with two of her fingers saying: ‘Yes, with all my heart I bless you.’ And she vanished.”

Heaven seemed to close again, and the devil regained power over Josefa both day and night.

However, on Thursday, February 1st, St. Madeleine Sophie appeared to her as the forerunner of peace. She summoned her to the little cell which she herself had once sanctified by prayer and holiness. She told her of the entrance into Heaven of five of her daughters and gave her their names, and as if consecrating her presence in that holy spot, she added:

“You cannot imagine with what joy I see my beloved daughters come here. From Heaven, I bless them with the tenderness of a mother and obtain many graces for them. . . . My desire is that each should be a home of repose and love for the Heart of Jesus.”

A few days later, February 4th, she comforted her, saying: “Do not weary of suffering. Souls who suffer through love will see great things, I do not say here on earth, but in eternity.”

On Saturday, February 10th, it was St. Madeleine Sophie again who came to tell Josefa of Our Lord’s return after some hard days of trial: “May His peace guard your heart, my child. . . . He will soon come, comfort Him with complete trust. Do not forget that if He is your God, He is also your Father, and not only your Father, but even your Beloved. . . . Have no fear and tell Him everything, for He is ever ready to listen to you. O how good our God is . . . How compassionate is His Heart.”

And as it was the eve of the Quarant’ore:

“Console and love Him,” she added, “May His Heart find rest here, and may your littleness save many souls for Him . . .”

Then stressing the leading thought of her life:

“Console Him by your humility, for all is well where there is humility; but when it is absent, everything goes wrong.”

Then after telling her of some of her motherly wishes:

“Adieu,” she said as she blessed her, “refuse nothing to your God.”

That same evening the devil, exasperated by the intervention of the Saint, and still more by her advice, exclaimed: “That blessed one will be the ruin of my power, through her humility alone.” And as if forced to reveal his infernal secret—

“Ah!” he roared, blaspheming, “when I want to keep strong hold of a soul, I have only to incite her to pride . . . and if I want to bring about her ruin, I have only to let her follow the instincts of her pride.

“Pride is the source of my victories and I will not rest till the world is full of it. I myself was lost through pride, and I will not allow souls to save themselves through humility.

“There is no doubt about it,” he cried with a yell of rage, “all those who reach highest sanctity have sunk deepest in humility.”

Josefa wrote this diabolic confession with deep feeling, and her filial love rejoiced in the midst of her pains at this unexpected tribute to the humility of her Holy Mother Foundress.

The Quarant’ore had always been for her a special time of reparation. But this year was the last on earth during which Our Lord would summon her to carry the Cross with Him for souls who are lost during these days of unbridled indulgence and sinful pleasure.

Her love had grown considerably in the year that had passed, and it was as His consecrated bride that she now shared the bitterness of the wounded Heart of her Master. She was expecting Him, for St. Madeleine Sophie had prepared her for His speedy coming.

On February 11th, during the Quarant’ore Sunday Mass, He manifested Himself to her. It was a month since last she had seen Him. “Josefa,” He said, “will you comfort Me?”

She renewed her vows, and expressed the burning desires of her soul, not however without a certain reticence, “for,” she said, “I was afraid of myself, for I grow more wretched every day . . .”

“Do not think of what you are,” said Our Lord, “I will give you the necessary strength for anything I may ask of you. Remember that I permit your miseries and falls, so that in spite of the graces I bestow on you, you may never lose sight of your nothingness.”

Then His Heart glowed like fire . . .

“And now, let us work for souls . . .

“Many are lost, it is true . . . but we shall be able to save many others from the ways of perdition, and this will comfort My Heart, in spite of the offenses committed against It. Do you know, Josefa, how sinners rend Me, and how much I need those who will make reparation? That is why I come to rest among those I have Myself chosen. May these souls, by their fidelity and their love, heal the wounds that sinners cause Me. I need victims to repair the bitterness inflicted on My Heart and to relieve My sorrow. How great is the number of sins committed! . . . How many the souls that are lost!”

She begged Him to come and rest among His own, and to let them know what to do to console so vast a sorrow.

“I look only for love,” He answered, “docile love that allows itself to be led by the Lover . . . disinterested love, that seeks neither for pleasure nor for self-interest, but thinks only of the Beloved. Zealous love, burning, fiery and vehement love, that overcomes all the obstacles raised by egoism: that is true love, love that snatches souls from the bottomless pit into which they cast themselves headlong.”

Encouraged by such condescension, Josefa plied Jesus with her artless questions.

“How is it,” she wrote, “that when prayer is made for a soul month after month there seems to be no result? . . . How is it that He who so longs for the conversion of sinners, leaves their hearts untouched, so that many prayers and sacrifices are lost? . . . and I spoke to Him of three sinners and especially of two, for whom we have been praying so long!”

“When a soul prays for a sinner with an intense desire for his conversion,” Our Lord answered graciously, “his prayer generally obtains the sinner’s conversion, though sometimes only at the last moment, and the offense given to My Heart is repaired. But in any case, prayer is never lost, for on the one hand, it consoles Me for the pain sin has occasioned, and on the other, its efficacy and power are applied, if not to that sinner, then to others better disposed to profit by it.

“There are souls who during life and for all eternity are called to give Me not only the glory they owe Me themselves, but also that which other souls who are lost should have given Me. . . . In this way My glory is not impaired and a just soul is able to make reparation for many others.

“Let this be your constant prayer, Josefa: ‘Eternal Father, who out of love for mankind gavest Thy Beloved Son up to death, by His Blood, by His merits and by His Heart, have pity on the whole world, and forgive all the sins that are there committed. Receive the humble reparation offered Thee by Thy chosen souls. Unite it to the merits of Thy Divine Son, so that all they do may be very effective. O Eternal Father, have pity on souls, and remember that the time has not yet come for strict justice, but for mercy.’ “Do not refuse Me anything,” He said before leaving her, “and do not forget that I need souls to carry on My Passion, that divine wrath may be restrained. But,” He added reassuringly, “I will sustain you.”

The conversation that had taken place in the morning was continued that evening. Josefa was busy in the Auxiliary Chapel, when suddenly Our Lord appeared to her. “You cannot know how much I count on you,” He said graciously.

“But how is it possible, dear Lord, for I do nothing out of the way?”

“Do not be astonished. . . . In spite of the number of offenses committed by sinners, My Heart is consoled, for I have many who love Me. I do indeed feel keenly the loss of so many souls . . . but this sorrow does not cloud My glory. Understand this well, Josefa, when a soul loves Me, she can make up for many who offend Me, and this relieves My Heart.”

“I explained to Him how much I would like to be one of those loving souls. What could I do to prove my love? . . . This Lent I would try to be very simple and very docile . . . and console Him specially by my humility, as Our Holy Mother told me the other day; only I am not sure what to do. . . .”

Then as a father bends down the better to explain a lesson to his child, Our Lord said to her:

“The humility your Holy Mother spoke to you about does not consist in words or exterior actions exactly, but in the fidelity with which a soul moved by grace follows its inspirations, without letting itself be carried away by self-love. This, of course, need not prevent a soul from helping herself by exterior acts to acquire true and deep humility. That is what your Holy Mother meant.

“And now,” He said, “this is what you will do to console Me for the sins of the world . . . and especially for those of My chosen souls.

“During Lent, you will recite the Miserere every day with true humility and you will add a Pater.

“You will prostrate three times for the space of an Ave Maria, to beg for mercy and pardon in the name of sinners, and for the same intention you will do whatever penances are allowed you.

Then Our Lord expressed the desire that three times a week between eleven and midnight Josefa should unite herself to His prayer to appease the wrath of the Father and obtain pardon for sinners.

She dared not promise to carry out this last request, “for,” she said, “I am not sure of obtaining leave.”

“Submit yourself in this as in all else to the decision of your Superiors,” answered the Master; “and now I shall continue telling you My secrets . . .”

“During Lent, I will make known to you anything that displeases Me in your soul and I will use you to comfort My Heart whenever I need you. Adieu, I will come back soon . . . Do not leave Me solitary . . . Do not forget Me.”

This wish of the Heart of Jesus helped her to endure the painful days that followed. How could she leave Him solitary? . . . when the sins of men were being multiplied and were forever calling on her thought and spirit of reparation.

On Tuesday of the Quarant’ore, February 13th, she once more came in contact with that supreme agony that she shared with all her soul. Whilst she was making the Stations with her Sisters, Jesus came, His sacred face very sad and all disfigured with blood, but His Heart was on fire. He asked her to stay with Him a few minutes. She went to ask leave, and rejoined Him in the Chapel where the Blessed Sacrament was exposed.

“Look at My face, Josefa, it is sin that has thus disfigured it. The world precipitates itself into pleasures of all kinds; such a multitude of sins are committed that My soul is drowned in bitterness and grief. . . . Where shall I find relief for My sorrow? I come here seeking shelter and love in order to forget for awhile the ingratitude of men.”

“I tried to console Him,” she wrote; “and a few minutes later He said: ‘Come with Me into your cell. There we shall repair for the many sins and offenses that are being committed.’

“I went out of the Chapel, Jesus walked in front of me . . . then He disappeared, but when I opened the door of my cell He was already there. I knelt down and He said: ‘Prostrate yourself to the very ground and adore the Divine Majesty despised by sinful men. Make an act of reparation and say with Me: “O God infinitely Holy, I adore Thee. Humbly prostrate in Thy presence, I beg of Thee in the name of Thy Divine Son to pardon the many sinners who offend Thee. I offer Thee my life, and I long to repair for so much ingratitude.” ‘

“Here He stopped . . . and I asked Him if these sinful souls wounded Him. ‘Yes,’ He said, ‘very much, but My chosen souls comfort Me.’

“I spoke to Him from time to time, telling Him of my longing to comfort Him . . . but what could I do? . . . so wretched and incapable . . .

“ ‘That is true,’ He replied, ‘but do you not know how little your wretchedness matters to Me? . . . What I want is to be Master of your wretchedness. Do not trouble yourself about anything else. . . . My Heart transforms everything. Kiss the ground once more and say with Me: “My Father, God Holy and Merciful, accept my desire to console Thee. Would that I could repair for all the sins of the world . . . but as this is impossible, I offer Thee the merits of Jesus Christ, Redeemer of the human race, in order to satisfy Thy justice.” ‘

“After a few moments of silence, I asked Him if the devil would persecute me again tonight as he had done on the previous ones, or whether I could make a Holy Hour with all the others.

“ ‘Yes, I will let you spend that hour united to the feelings of My Heart which is burning with desire to attract souls to Itself in order to forgive them. Poor sinners, how blind they are! I want only to forgive them, and they seek only to offend Me. That is My great sorrow; that so many are lost and that they do not all come to Me to be forgiven.’ ”

Then taking advantage of Our Lord’s indulgence, for He seemed disposed to answer all her questions, Josefa let them tumble out one after another with the simplicity of a child.

“I asked Him if He remembers our faults after we have been sorry for them and have obtained His forgiveness.”

“ ‘As soon as a soul throws itself at My feet and implores My forgiveness, Josefa, I forget all her sins.’

“I asked Him if people will go on offending Him to the end of the world.”

“ ‘Yes, alas, . . . to the end of the world, but I shall also have some who are a comfort to Me.’

“I wanted to know if He does not make His voice heard by souls that are plunged in sin, in order to induce them to change, for I see for myself that when I am in temptation and resist, suddenly I feel within me something that makes me know the truth and at once I am seized with sorrow.”

Jesus answered: “Yes, Josefa, I pursue sinners as justice pursues criminals. But justice seeks them in order to punish; I, in order to forgive.”

Then as she offered Him as a consolation the desires of religious, which are more than usually ardent during carnival time, He added before leaving her: “My chosen souls are to My Heart as balm to a wound. I will return later, Josefa, go on consoling Me.”

For the moment the consolation that He asked of her was fidelity, in spite of the toils in which the devil tried to ensnare her.

Saturday, February 17th, all her gloom was scattered when Mary brought her the token she most valued, the Crown of Thorns of her Son: “It is for you, my child,” she said. “Do not worry at all about the lies with which the devil tries to torment you.”

And as Josefa told her how sad it made her to be unable to escape so many traps laid for her, Our Lady suggested this remedy to her: “Fix your mind on the Passion and sufferings of Jesus.” Then placing the Crown of Thorns on her head: “Take it,” she added, as she blessed her; “it will keep you in His presence.”

A few hours after, it was Jesus with His peace who came to her: “Come . . . come closer,” He said to Josefa as she hesitated.

“Promise Me never to let yourself be caught again by the devil’s snares.”

That was what she wanted, but she did not dare promise, for she was so conscious of her weakness.

“If you fall again. I will come to your help.”

Then she artlessly confided to Him the counsel given her by her Immaculate Mother which she had already been putting into practice by fixing her mind from hour to hour on the Passion. “Yes,” said Our Lord with great kindness, “think of My sufferings.”

And pointing out the direction His Message was to take in future, He added: “Henceforth I will come every day to talk to you about My Passion, so that it may be the subject of your own thoughts and of My secrets to you for souls.”

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