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The Way Of Divine Love
by -Sr. Josefa Menendez

“Stay close to Me in Gethsemane and let My Blood water and strengthen the root of your littleness.”
(Our Lord to Josefa, March 12th, 1923)

THE very next day, Monday, March 12th, Our Lord called Josefa to Gethsemane. He began by reassuring her, for the night before Satan had multiplied his threats about her Communion, to which she had so eagerly looked forward on the preceding day.

“Have no fear,” He said, “the power of the evil one is not greater than Mine. It pleases Me to hear you call Me, and I am so consoled that every desire of your heart cries out to Me; it is as if so many who do not communicate, went to Communion.

“Humble yourself, kiss the ground, and then come with Me . . . let us go to Gethsemane, and may your heart be immersed in the feelings of bitterness and sadness with which Mine was submerged.

“After having preached to great crowds, healed the sick, given sight to the blind, raised the dead . . . after having lived three years with My Apostles to train them and teach My doctrine to them . . . I finally willed to teach them by example how to love one another, to put up with one another, and how mutually to serve each other; and this I did by washing their feet and making Myself their food.

“The hour had come for the Son of God made man, Redeemer of the human race, to shed His blood and give His life for the world. And that I might surrender Myself to My Father’s will I forthwith betook Myself to prayer.

“Dearly loved souls, come and learn from your Model that the one thing necessary, whatever the revolts of nature, is surrender to God’s Will in humble submission and by a supreme act of the will to accomplish the Will of God whatever the circumstances may be. Learn also from Him that all important actions should be preceded and vivified by prayer, for only in prayer can a soul obtain the strength needed in life’s difficulties. In prayer God will communicate Himself, will counsel and inspire, even if His action be unfelt.

“I withdrew into the Garden of Gethsemane, that is to say into solitude. God is to be sought within, away from distraction and noise. To find Him the soul must enforce silence on all the disturbances by which nature often fights against grace; on interior arguments prompted by self-love or sensuality. These constantly tend to stifle the inspirations of grace and keep her from finding God within. . . .

After these words, Our Lord continued:

“Adore His Will for you, whatever it is . . . and humble yourself as befits a creature before its Creator. . . .

“It was thus I offered Myself to carry out the Redemption of the world.

“At the same moment I felt all the torments of My Passion burst overwhelmingly upon Me: the calumnies and the insults . . . the scourging and the Crown of Thorns, the thirst . . . the Cross. . . . All these sufferings thronged before My eyes and pressed upon My Heart, while at one and the same time I saw all the offenses, sins and crimes that were to be committed throughout the ages . . . I not only witnessed them all, but was invested in them . . . so that under the burden of their ignominy I was constrained to present Myself before the face of My all-holy Father and implore Him to show mercy.

“And there burst upon Me the wrath of an angry and offended God, and in order to appease His Majesty I offered myself as security for sinful man, I, His Son, to calm His anger and satisfy His Justice. But so great was the anguish and so mortal the agony of My human nature under the strain and weight of so much guilt, that a bloody sweat poured from Me to the ground.

“O sinners who thus torture Me . . . will this blood bring salvation and life, or will it be shed in vain for you? How can I express My sorrow at the thought of this sweat, this anguish, this agony, this blood . . . useless for so many souls.

“That is enough for today, Josefa. Console My Heart; tomorrow we shall go on. . . . Adieu. Remain close to Me in Gethsemane that My blood may fertilize and strengthen the root of your littleness.”

How was it that Josefa succeeded after such confidences in adjusting herself to the ordinary give and take of common life? Yet she was seen to be ever the same, working from morning till night. Only a very special grace could thus keep her present to all, whilst she was at the same time oppressed by those momentous disclosures from the divine lips.

That night from the 12th to 13th of March, Jesus returned with His Cross. It was her right, ratified by obedience; and while still reminding her of her unworthiness, Jesus entrusted her with this treasure which they shared.

“I rest in your nothingness,” He said, “but I find comfort and relief as well in the midst of My consecrated nuns, for though they are unaware of it, I entrust them too with souls who are saved and return to Me. . . . Keep My Cross, and tomorrow I will tell you more of My secrets.”

The night as usual was spent in diabolic attacks, and early next morning Jesus resumed His narrative.

“Kiss the ground,” He said to His messenger, whom He liked to see thus lowly at His feet. “I am not attracted by your merits but by My love for souls.”

“Yes,” He continued, “I have come to reveal to you the feelings of My Heart, and also to rest among you all. Ah! how happy I am when souls receive Me with joy . . . for I come either to console them or to seek in them My consolation. But they do not always recognize My presence, especially when it is accompanied by suffering.

“And now let us continue our prayer in Gethsemane:

“Draw near Me, and when you see Me submerged in an ocean of grief, rise, and go with Me to the three disciples whom I had left a stone’s throw away.

“I had chosen them that they might share My agony, pray with Me and by their company afford Me some consolation. . . . What were My feelings to find them asleep? O the pang of loneliness, and to have none to share in My sorrow. . . .

“How often My Heart suffers this same grief . . . how often, hoping to find solace among the souls It loves, It finds them slumbering! . . .

“It is useless for Me to attempt to awaken them, to make them leave themselves and their preoccupations, their vain and fruitless conversations . . . too often the reply that reaches Me in act if not in words amounts to: ‘I cannot now, I am too busy . . . too tired . . . I need repose.’ Then gently insisting I say to this soul ‘Come for a little while. Come and pray with Me, I need you, do not be afraid of sacrificing your rest for Me; I will be your reward. . . . ’ And the same answer is repeated. . . . Poor sleeping souls who cannot watch one hour with Me. . . .

“Beloved souls, learn from this how useless it is to seek comfort in creatures. How often you will receive only an increase of distress because they are asleep and respond neither to your hope nor love.

“I went back to My prayer, and again falling on My face I worshipped My Father and implored His help. . . . I did not call Him ‘My God’ but ‘My Father.’ It is when harrowed with pain that you too must call God your Father. Beg for His help, expose your woes . . . your fears, your longings . . . and let your cry of anguish remind Him that you are His child. Tell Him that your body is exhausted . . . your heart is sorrowful even unto death . . . that your soul is experiencing what seems a very sweat of blood. Pray with a child’s confidence and expect relief from your Father’s Heart. He Himself will comfort you and give you the strength necessary to endure the tribulation or suffering, whether it be your own or that of the souls confided to your care.

“My soul, already shattered and a prey to sadness, had to endure still more deadly grief, for crushed by the weight of the sins of men, and in return for so much suffering and love, I saw only outrages and ingratitude. The blood now pouring from My body and which I was soon to shed from countless wounds would be in vain for so many souls . . . many would be lost . . . a still greater number would sin against Me . . . and myriads would not so much as hear My name . . . I would pour out My blood for all, offer My merits to each soul. . . . Blood of a God . . . infinite merits . . . yet to be in vain for how great a number!

“Yes, I will shed My blood for all and all will be loved with great love . . . but for some that love will be more tender, more intimate, more ardent . . . so from these chosen souls I will expect more consolation and love, more generosity and abnegation . . . in a word, a fuller response to My loving-kindness.

“Alas! At this moment I see how many will turn away from Me . . . some will not listen to My call . . . others will hear but will not follow Me . . . others will respond for a time with a certain amount of generosity to the call of My Heart, but then will gradually grow drowsy and one day will say to Me by their deeds: ‘I have worked enough . . . I have been faithful to every detail of my duty . . . I have overcome nature . . . I am no longer a child . . . so many privations . . . so much vigilance are no longer necessary . . . I need no longer endure this restraint, etc. . . .

“Poor soul! is this how you begin to go to sleep? . . . soon I shall return and as you are asleep you will not hear Me . . . I shall offer you My grace and you will not receive it . . . Is there any hope that later on you will be roused? Must one not fear that you will grow weak through lack of food and be unable to throw off your lethargy? . . .

“Beloved souls, know that death has stolen upon masses while they were thus sleeping soundly! . . . Where and by what means have they been awakened? . . .

“I saw all this and felt it in My Heart. What should I do . . . turn back, ask My Father to free Me from this torment? . . . Show Him the uselessness of My sacrifice for so many souls? . . . No! again I surrendered Myself to His holy Will and accepted this chalice, to drink it to the dregs.

“O souls that I love, I did it to teach you not to faint under your burdens. Never count them as useless, even if you are unable to reckon the result; submit your judgment and leave the divine Will free to do with you whatsoever it wills.

“I Myself would neither go back nor escape, and knowing that My enemies would come and seize Me in that very Garden, I stayed where I was.

“Tomorrow we shall continue, Josefa; be on the alert, that I may find you awake if I need you.”

A full hour passed in silence in the cell where Josefa, still on her knees, had not stopped writing for a moment. At last she ended her task and Jesus looked down at her and said: “Kiss My feet and remain in My peace. I am always with you even when you do not see Me.”

He went away, but not for long, and early on Wednesday morning, March 14th, without further introduction, He resumed His narrative:

“After having been comforted by an angel sent by My Father, suddenly I saw Judas coming, one of the Twelve, and with him those who were come to take Me prisoner. They carried staves and stones, chains and ropes to seize and bind Me. I arose, and drawing near, I said to them: ‘Whom seek ye?’ Then Judas, putting his hands upon My shoulders, gave Me a kiss. Ah! Judas, what are you doing? . . . Why do you betray Me with a kiss?

“To how many souls cannot I also say: ‘What are you doing? . . . What does this kiss mean?’

“Beloved soul, you who come to receive Me, so often assure Me of your affection . . . and you have hardly left Me than already you have betrayed Me to My enemies! You know very well that in that company you find so attractive there will be conversations that wound Me, you who communicated this morning and tomorrow will do so again . . . these are the occasions in which you lose My costly grace. . . .

“And why do you carry on transactions of doubtful integrity? I say to another. Do you not know these are unlawful gains, unlawful this rise in social position . . . this wealth? . . . In so doing you receive Me as Judas did with a kiss, for in a few moments, a few hours at most, you will give My enemies a sign by which they will recognize Me and so lay hands on Me. Now I speak also to you Christian souls: you betray Me by this dangerous friendship, you cast stones at Me and cause another likewise to betray Me. Why do you do this? You who know Me and so often have gloried in your almsgiving and church-going? . . . These acts which might be highly meritorious are but a cloak of your malice. . . . O soul whom I love . . . why are you enslaved by passion? . . .

“Friend! whereto art thou come? . . . Judas, dost thou betray the Son of Man with a kiss, your Master and your Lord! He who loves you and is ready to forgive again . . . one of My Twelve! . . . who sat at My table and whose feet I have washed? . . .

“How often must I speak thus to the souls I love most dearly?

“I do not ask you to free yourself, for I know it is not always in your power, but what I do ask of you is to keep up the struggle against your passions. . . . What are passing pleasures . . . if not the thirty pieces of silver for which Judas sold Me, and what did he gain? The loss of his soul.

“How many have sold Me and will sell Me for the low price of a passing pleasure? . . . Alas, poor souls, whom seek ye? Is it I? This Jesus whom once you knew and loved . . .

“Listen to My words: ‘Watch and pray, fight your evil inclinations and suffer them not to grow into confirmed habits.’

“The grass in meadowlands has to be mown every year, and in some cases even at every recurring season. The ground needs to be ploughed up, manured, and freed from weeds, and so must work be carried on in souls and evil tendencies carefully corrected. Do not imagine that it is always a serious fault that leads to the worst sins. The greatest faults are often the result of neglect of little things: a small satisfaction indulged in, a moment of weakness yielded to, a consent to do a thing in itself lawful but immortified, a pleasure not sinful, but ill-advised here and now. . . . All these things recur unheeded, and little by little the soul is blinded, grace loses its power, passion increases and finally triumphs.

“Ah! how infinitely sorrowful for the Heart of God, whose love is boundless, to see so many insensibly approaching nearer and nearer the abyss. . . .

“That will suffice for today, Josefa. Do not forget that My Heart is drawn here not by your merits, but by your misery and the compassion I feel for you.”

Late next night, Josefa awoke at the call of her Master. He brought her His Cross, as had been agreed, and only said: “Take My Cross and be afraid of nothing. Never will it be beyond your strength to bear, for I have measured and weighed it in the balance of love. Ah! do you know the depth of My love for you and for souls? . . . It is for them that I use you, for little as you are, and worthless, yet I make use of your littleness by keeping it united to My merits and close to My Heart.

“Keep my Cross, and suffer for souls and for love of Me.”

This nightly endurance of pain, so dear to the Heart of Jesus as also to Josefa, continued till dawn. Jesus was thus preparing her for the tryst He had not failed to keep for many days.

No sooner had Josefa reached her cell on the morning of Thursday, March 15th, the Feast of the Five Wounds, than He joined her. Standing before the table in front of which she knelt after having renewed her vows, He said as usual: “Kiss the ground and humble yourself, Josefa.”

By this act she each time offered herself once more to do His Will.

“I have told you, Josefa, how those who offend Me gravely deliver Me over to My enemies to put Me to death, or rather they make themselves My enemies and the arms they use against Me are their sins.

“But it is not always a question of grave lapses . . . there are souls and even highly favored ones that are false to Me by habitual faults, by evil tendencies acquiesced in, concessions to immortified nature, failings against charity . . . obedience . . . silence, etc. And if sin and ingratitude from worldlings are hard for My Heart, how much more grievous when inflicted by those I dearly love. . . . If the kiss of Judas caused Me so much grief, this was because he was one of the Twelve, and from him I expected more love, more consolation, more sympathy!

“O chosen souls, marked out by Me for My home of rest, the garden of My delights, from you also I expect more tenderness, consideration and attentions prompted by love, than from others who are not so closely united to Me.

“You can be a healing balm to My wounds, you can cleanse My defiled and disfigured countenance . . . you can help Me to enlighten blind souls who in the darkness of night seize Me to bind Me and lead Me to death.

“Leave Me not alone . . . awake and pray with Me, behold the enemy is at hand.

“When the soldiers came forward to seize Me I said to them: ‘It is I.’ Such, too, is the word I utter when a soul is about to yield to temptation: ‘It is I.’ You come to betray Me and to deliver Me up. . . . No matter, come, for I am your Father, and if you consent, then it will not be you that bind Me with chains of sin, but I that shall bind you with chains of love!

“Come, it is I who love you, it is I who have poured out all My blood for you. . . . I pity your weakness, I long to open My arms and clasp you in Love’s embrace!

“Come, My chosen one, come My priest . . . I am infinite mercy . . . do not fear that I shall punish you. . . . I shall not repulse you, but shall open My Heart to you and love you with even greater tenderness. I shall wash away your sins in the Blood of My wounds. All Heaven will rejoice and wonder at your regained beauty, and My Heart will find rest in yours.

“Alas, how sick at heart I am when after words so tender there still remain some who would bind Me and lead Me to My death. . . .

“After he had given Me the traitor’s kiss, Judas left the Garden, and realizing the gravity of his crime, gave way to despair. Who can measure My sorrow at the sight of My Apostle casting himself into Hell! . . .

“The hour had come, so yielding to the soldiery I meekly gave Myself up as a lamb into their hands. At once they dragged Me to the house of Caiphas, where they heaped insults and mockery on Me and where one of the soldiers struck Me a blow in the face.

“The first buffet. . . . Mark My words, Josefa, do you think it gave Me more pain than the scourges of the flagellation? Doubtless no, but I saw in this first blow the first mortal sin of many souls who until then had lived in My grace. . . . And after the first, how many more . . . and how great the number of souls who would follow that example and fall into the same danger . . . perhaps into a like misfortune: death in mortal sin. . . .

“Tomorrow we shall continue; meanwhile, Josefa, spend the day in reparation and prayer that many souls may realize where their dangerous path is leading them.”

The Feast of the Five Wounds was not to pass without the favor of a visit from Our Lady, and the gift of the drops of blood, which has already been related. The visit, however, was a brief one, and when Josefa timidly asked if she might state some of her difficulties, she answered: “I will return, and then you can ask me whatever you like.”

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