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The Way Of Divine Love
by -Sr. Josefa Menendez

“Look at My Wounds! Has anyone else suffered so much to prove His love?”
(Our Lord to Josefa, March 21st, 1923)

IT is twenty-two years today,” wrote Josefa (Saturday, March 17th, 1923), “since I heard the voice of Jesus for the first time, when I was preparing for my First Communion. I was reminding Him of this during my thanksgiving when suddenly He appeared . . . such loveliness! His garment seemed of gold and His Heart one blaze of fire. . . . How can I describe It?”

“ ‘Josefa,’ I said to you then, ‘I want you to be all Mine.’ Today I can say to you: ‘You are all Mine.’ Then I was preparing to attract you to My Heart . . . today you are imprisoned in It. Come . . . enter and rest therein, since It is your dwelling.”

Then He opened His Heart to admit Josefa. . . .”It was like Heaven,” she wrote, “and I thought myself no longer on this earth . . .”

These ineffable moments were of short duration; every time that she enjoyed their strength and peace she knew it to be but a pause between two phases. Such were Heaven’s designs.

A few hours later she was at her post of waiting, till it pleased Him to lead her still further into His sorrowful Passion:

“Contemplate Me in the prison where I spent the greater part of the night. The soldiers came and, adding words to injuries, insulted Me, mocked Me, outraged Me, and gave Me blows on My face and on My whole body.

“Tired of their sport, at length they left Me bound and alone in the dark and noisome place, where, seated on a stone, My aching body was cramped with cold.

“Compare the prison with the Tabernacle . . . and especially with the hearts that receive Me.

“In the prison I spent only part of one night . . . but in the Tabernacle, how many days and nights?

“In the prison I was insulted and ill-treated by soldiers who were My enemies. In the Tabernacle most often it is they who call Me their Father who treat Me thus, but how unlike that of children is the treatment! . . .

“In the prison I endured cold, sleeplessness, hunger and thirst, pain, shame, solitude, and desertion. And there passed before My mind’s eye all the Tabernacles where in the course of ages I should lack the shelter of love . . . the icy-cold hearts that would be as hard and unfeeling as the stones of the prison floor were to My numbed and wounded body.

“And how often should I wait for this or that other soul to visit Me in the Blessed Sacrament and receive Me into his heart . . . how many nights should I spend longing for his coming . . . but he would let business or carelessness or anxiety for his health get the better of him . . . and he would not come!

“How often should I hunger for souls . . . for their fidelity . . . for their generosity . . . would they satisfy that eager hunger by a little victory over self or by a slight mortification? . . . Would they comfort Me in My sorrow by their tenderness and compassion? . . . In some hard moment would they endure the pain . . . neglect . . . scorn . . . opposition . . . grief of soul or family . . . would they come to Me and say: ‘This I offer Thee to console Thy sadness, to keep Thee company in Thy solitude.’ O! if they would thus unite themselves to Me, with what peace would they face difficulties . . . how much fortitude they would win and how they would gladden My Heart!

“In the prison what shame I felt at the obscene words of those around Me . . . and My distress was increased by the thought that like words would one day fall from lips I love.

“When blows and buffets were rained upon Me by the filthy hands of the soldiery it recalled to My mind how often those who would receive Me into hearts fouled by unrepented sin would shower reiterated blows on Me by habitual and willed sin.

“And in the prison when they pushed Me and let Me fall to the ground bound and helpless, so many were present to My mind who would prefer a moment’s satisfaction to Me, would load Me with chains by their ingratitude, would push Me back and again cause Me to fall, by leaving Me alone.

“O you who are consecrated to Me, draw near to the Bridegroom of your souls in His prison. Gaze steadfastly upon Him during that night of pain and see that sorrow continued in the loneliness of countless Tabernacles and the coldness of many hearts.

“If you are desirous of proving your sympathy, open your hearts and let Me find a prison therein. . . .

“There bind Me with chains of love . . . there clothe Me with loving attentions. . . . Appease My hunger by your generosity. . . . Assuage My thirst by your zeal. . . . Comfort Me in My sorrow by keeping Me faithful company and wiping away My shame by your purity and uprightness of intention.

“If you wish Me to take My rest in you, prepare for My coming by acts of self-denial . . . master your imagination and calm the tumult of your passions . . . then in the stillness of your soul you will hear My voice speaking gently within you: Today you are My repose, but for all eternity I shall be your rest. . . . Tenderly and with love you have harbored Me in the prison of your heart. I shall be your reward exceeding great and you will never regret any sacrifice you have made for Me during your life!

“Let us end, Josefa, and let Me spend today in the prison of your soul. Keep it in deep silence, that you may hear My words and respond to the wishes I shall confide to you.”

Three days were spent in this contemplation, not without bringing to Josefa the grace of tribulations through which she kept watch with the Divine Prisoner. She was unconscious of the role assigned to her, which one would have expected would always be nothing but a delight to her. But the kind of love her Master demanded was of a sterner sort, fed on strife, humiliation, and suffering: “It is good for you,” Our Lady had once said to her, “to love without knowing or feeling it.”

Throughout this history this will be the one lesson Jesus and His Mother never cease inculcating on those chosen souls who are to be the instruments of His infinite mercy and of His redeeming love.

In the evening of Tuesday, March 20th, while she was hanging out the linen in the garden, suddenly Josefa met Our Lord, who looked at her with compassion.

“Go up to your cell,” He said. “I want you to write.”

Hardly had she reached it than He rejoined her. He was bearing the Crown of Thorns on His head, and she begged Him to give it to her.

“Yes, I will give it to you with great love. . . . Take it and let us write for My souls.

“After having spent the greater part of the night in the damp, obscure and sordid prison . . . after having been subjected to outrages and ill-treatment by the soldiery . . . to the insults and mockeries of the servants, who were curious to see what would become of Me . . . when My body was already exhausted by so many torments . . . listen, Josefa, to the burning desires of My Heart:

“What filled Me with love and made Me long for more suffering was the thought of so many who would follow in My footsteps.

“I saw them faithfully imitating Me and learning from My Heart not only to accept suffering and contempt with patience and serenity, but also to extend their love to those who would persecute them.

“Like Me they would rise to the height of offering themselves up in sacrifice for those who ill-treated them.

“I saw them, strengthened by grace, answer the divine call, become religious, imprison themselves in solitude, bind themselves with chains of love, give up all they cared for, endure courageously rebellions of nature, accept willingly misjudgments, contempt, slander, the condemnation of their life as foolishness . . . and throughout all this keep their hearts intimately united to their God and Lord.

“So, in the midst of outrages and infamous treatment this prospect enkindled Me with a burning desire to carry out the Divine Will in all things. Hence, alone and in much pain, but in close union with the Will of My Father, I offered Myself to make amends to His outraged glory.

“You, O religious souls who live in the prison chosen by Love, often deemed useless and even dangerous in the eyes of the world, have no fear; in your solitude and moments of stress, let the world rant against you . . . only join your heart yet closer to God, the one object of your affections, and do all you can to repair for the sins and the outrages of mankind.

“At dawn the next day, Caiphas ordered Me to be taken to Pilate, that he might condemn Me to death.

“Pilate questioned Me shrewdly, hoping to discover a true cause for My condemnation, but finding none, his conscience soon told him of what a grave injustice he would be guilty . . . so to evade the responsibility He sent Me to Herod.

“Pilate’s soul is typical of those who, tossed between the impulses of grace and the allurements of their own passions, blindly yield to human respect and excessive self-love; for if they are faced by a temptation or a dangerous occasion of sin, they blind themselves and argue, until they gradually persuade themselves that there is no harm, no peril in it . . . they are wise enough to decide for themselves and have no need of advice . . . they are afraid of seeming ridiculous in the eyes of the world . . . they lack energy to overcome themselves, and not making use of grace they fall into one occasion of sin after another, until, like Pilate, they deliver Me up to Herod.

“When it is question of a religious, there is perhaps no intention of offending Me gravely. But to resist, a humiliation would have to be accepted, or some annoyance borne . . . and if, far from following the inspiration of grace, and honestly manifesting the temptation, this soul in self-interrogation decides that there is no reason to avoid this danger or to refuse herself this satisfaction, she will soon fall into graver peril. . . . Like Pilate, she will be blinded and lose the courage to act with straightforwardness, and gradually, if not soon, she will come to delivering Me to Herod.”

Jesus stopped, and addressing Himself to Josefa, said: “Remain in peace and in the consciousness of your miseries and nothingness. It takes so little to shake you . . . but have no fear; My mercy and love are infinitely greater, and your weakness will never surpass My strength.”

This principle Our Lord never grows tired of repeating. He wants through Josefa to teach other souls of whose wretchedness He is fully aware, but whose humble trust and brave hearts rejoice His; they will learn that nothing interferes with His plans, and that weakness does no more than hinder them for a moment.

At eleven o’clock He came again, but He was not bearing His Cross, which at once made Josefa anxious.

“For,” she said, “He always brings it at night, and I have the permission of my Mothers to wait for Him at this time only in order to comfort Him. . . . I care nothing for my own rest; I only want His.”

Jesus read this in her heart—He loved the simple and very true protestations of the affection which He knew so well. “Have no fear,” He said. “Where I am, there is My Cross.” And suddenly she felt its weight upon her shoulder. Jesus continued:

“Carry it with reverence and affection for the salvation of many souls that are in peril.”

After a few minutes of silence spent in an attitude of intense supplication, He united her with Him in prayer and said gravely:

“Offer to My Eternal Father the sufferings of My Passion; say with Me:

“O Heavenly Father! look upon the wounds of Thy Son and deign to accept them, that souls may accept Thy grace.

“May the nails which pierced His hands and feet pierce those hardened hearts, and His blood touch them and lead them to repentance. May the weight of the Cross on the shoulders of Jesus Thy Divine Son obtain for them the grace to unload themselves of their sins in the confessional.

“I offer Thee, O Heavenly Father, the Crown of Thorns of Thy beloved Son. By the agony it caused Him, grant true contrition to souls for all their sins.

“O Father! O God of mercies, I offer Thee the abandonment of Thy Son on the Cross, His thirst and all His pain, that sinners may recover peace and consolation in sorrow for their sins.

“Lastly, O God of all compassion, in the name of the persevering prayer of Jesus Christ Thy Son for the very men who were crucifying Him, I beg and implore Thee to grant to souls love of God and perseverance in well-doing.

“And just as the torments of Thy beloved Son ended gloriously in eternal bliss, so may the sufferings of penitent souls be crowned by the everlasting reward of your glory.”

“Keep my Cross, Josefa—remain united to My sufferings and continually offer to God the Father the wounds of His Son.”

After a few moments’ pause Jesus departed, leaving Josefa alone with the weight of the Cross on her shoulder.

On the morning of March 21st He returned and resumed the same subject as on the previous day:

“Go on writing, Josefa.”

“To all Pilate’s questions I answered nothing, but when he said ‘Art Thou the King of the Jews?’ then gravely and with full responsibility I replied: ‘Thou sayest it; I am King, but My Kingdom is not of this world.’

“So, when an occasion of conquering human respect and accepting bravely either humiliation or suffering (even if it could easily be avoided) presents itself, a soul should answer: ‘My Kingdom is not of this world,’ for that reason I do not seek human favor; I go to my true fatherland, where rest and joy await me. Meanwhile I will do my duty faithfully and make no account of the opinion of the world. If for this I must seek humiliation or suffering, I will not draw back; I will listen to the voice of grace and disregard that of nature. If I am unable to do this alone, I will ask advice, for I know how often self-love and passion blind me and entice me into the paths of evil.”

“Pilate therefore, overcome by human respect and the fear of shouldering his responsibilities, ordered Me to be led to Herod, a perverse man who sought only to satisfy his unruly passions. He was glad when he saw Me appear before his Court because he hoped for entertainment through My words and miracles.

“Consider My repulsion when brought face to face with so vicious a man, whose questions, gesticulations, and movements filled Me with shame.

“O virgin souls and pure . . . come near Me and defend Me. . . . Listen to the false witnesses . . . see the implacable desire of this crowd avid for scandals and before which I am made a laughingstock. Herod expected Me to reply to his sarcastic remarks, to justify and defend Myself, but I opened not My lips and kept the most profound silence in his presence.

“This silence testified to My sovereign dignity, for the obscene comments of so perverted a man were not worthy of exchange of words with the All-pure.

“During this interview My Heart was closely united to My Heavenly Father. I desired ardently to shed the last drop of My Blood for souls whom I love so much, and I was all inflamed with love at the thought of those who would follow My example and My generosity. Not only did I rejoice during this terrible interrogatory, but I was urged from within to hasten the moment of My suffering on the Cross.

“After undergoing these ignominies in complete silence, I allowed Myself to be treated as a fool and arrayed in a white garment, the sign of derision, and thus was I led back to Pilate amid the jeers of the multitude.

“Look at Pilate! See how afraid and disturbed he is; he is at his wits’ end in order to calm the fury of the people who demanded My death; he orders Me to be scourged.

“Such is the soul that has not enough courage and generosity to break energetically with the world’s demands, her nature or her passions. Instead of obeying conscience and making short work of temptation which she knows does not come from the good spirit, she yields to one fancy or another, to a slight satisfaction . . . if she overcomes herself on one point, she gives in on another, which would need greater effort; if she does some mortification, she hesitates about others which would ensure her fidelity to grace or the Rule, but would deprive her of some small pleasure. She allows herself half of what nature or passion demands and so soothes her conscience.

“We will suppose that there is question of divulging some fault, real or imagined, that she has found in another. It is neither fraternal charity nor zeal for the general good that prompts her, but a hidden envy, the result of passion, which is her true motive. Grace and conscience alarm her, and act as a warning of the spirit inspiring the injustice she is about to commit. There may be a moment of interior struggle, but immortified passion soon deprives her of the light and courage to reject so diabolic a purpose. Then she contrives a way of suppressing part of what she knows, but not all, consoling herself with the thought that it is right that such things should be known. . . . I will confine myself to a hint . . . etc.

“Like Pilate you give Me up to the scourges! Do not think you will satisfy passion thus . . . today so much, tomorrow more. . . . And if you have given in on only a small provocation, how will you act when temptation is violent?

“Contemplate Me, O My beloved, being led away as a meek lamb to the shameful and terrible punishment of the scourging.

“Blow after blow is discharged by the executioners on My body, already covered with bruises and broken with fatigue. . . . With whips and knotted cords they strike Me with such violence that My very bones are shaken and I am torn with innumerable wounds . . . bits of My divine flesh are rent off by the scourges . . . blood flows from every limb, and I am reduced to such a state of pitiable disfigurement as no longer to resemble a human being.

“Can you contemplate Me in this sea of sorrow and remain unmoved? Pity I did not expect from My executioners, but from you, O My chosen souls, I do look for compassion!

“See My wounds! who has suffered for love of you as I have? Then addressing Josefa, Jesus continued:

“Contemplate Me in this state of ignominy, Josefa.”

Jesus was silent and Josefa raised her eyes to the Master she so loved. . . . He stood there before her in the woeful state to which the scourging had reduced Him. For a long time He kept her eyes on that sorrowful sight as if to imprint it forever on her soul. Breaking silence at last:

“Tell Me,” He said, “will not My wounds give you strength to conquer and resist temptation? . . .

“Tell Me if you find not in them generosity wherewith to hand yourself over and sacrifice everything to My Will?

“Yes, Josefa, gaze on My wounds and let yourself be guided by grace and by the desire to comfort Me who am the victim of sin.

“Do not be afraid that your torments will ever equal Mine. . . . My grace will help you to do whatever I ask of you.

“Adieu, keep Me thus before your eyes!”

Our Lord then disappeared, and Josefa, her eyes closed, remained motionless, with an expression of unspeakable emotion on her face. Silence reigned in the little cell where such an amazing scene had just been enacted. Jesus had reminded souls that “it is not for nothing” that He has loved them with a love we can only call “frighteningly serious.” Little by little Josefa came back to herself; her tears began to flow freely . . . speech was impossible . . . but she remembered that she was merely the instrument to carry a Message, a witness to the excesses of this love, and that souls had a right to receive from her the message of boundless love.

She took up her pen, and still trembling, wrote:

“I saw Him in the state in which the scourging had left Him. This sight has filled me with such compassion that it seems to me that I should have courage to endure any suffering, however intense, to the end of my life. . . .

“No pain could come anywhere near His agony. . . .

“What struck me most was the expression of His tortured eyes—those eyes usually so beautiful and so expressive . . . today they were closed, swollen and filled with blood, especially the right eye. His hair damp with blood fell over His face, eyes and mouth. He was standing, but bent and bound to something . . . but I saw nothing but Him—His hands were tied together at the height of His waist and covered with blood. His body was furrowed with wounds and dark bruises, the veins of His arms all swollen and blackened. From His left shoulder hung a fragment of torn flesh about to detach itself, and the same was the case in several other parts of His body. His garments lay at His feet, crimsoned with His blood. A very tight cord held a rag of cloth round His waist, but its color was quite indistinguishable, so impregnated was it with blood.”

Here Josefa stopped; she was unable to go on . . .”I cannot give an account of what I saw . . . for words fail me . . .”

The whole day passed under the unspeakable sensations caused by what Josefa had witnessed, which her face expressed in its deep sadness. Nothing else, however, betrayed this consuming inner life.

Who would have imagined that on this Wednesday in Passion week Our Lord would have deigned to manifest His wounds to the most obscure and hidden of His consecrated religious? No doubt His divine eyes were fixed on the many souls who would read in this account the proof of His infinite love, and who, with faith reanimated at the thought of such tortures endured for love of them, would, like Josefa, draw courage to refuse Him no sacrifice.

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