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The Way Of Divine Love
by -Sr. Josefa Menendez

“Be attentive, O souls that I love, to the sufferings of My Heart.”
(Our Lord to Josefa, March 24th, 1923)

JOSEFA had not seen Our Blessed Lady for several days, but it was she, who in the night of March 21st–22nd, brought her the Cross.

“I was awakened by a slight noise,” wrote Josefa, “and at once I saw her standing by my bed. She was bearing the Cross on her right arm:

“ ‘It is I, daughter,’ she said, ‘and I come to entrust the Cross of Jesus to you, that you may comfort Him, for a great many sinners are offending Him. But one in particular is causing Him intense grief.’ ”

Then after reminding her that the first and best way of repairing was to allow herself to be used according to His Will, she concluded: “Now keep this precious treasure and pray for souls. . . .”

Her prayer for souls, begun thus under the Cross of Christ, was continued in the pains of Hell, where for some time past she had nightly “fulfilled that which was wanting in the Passion of Christ.”

On Thursday, March 22nd, Our Lord appeared to her just as she was preparing to leave her cell at nine o’clock in the morning. “Kiss the ground,” He said, “and let your whole soul be penetrated with what I am about to confide to you.”

Humbly she threw herself at His feet; she rose, to write rapidly the sorrowful confidences that escaped the divine lips.

“When at last, exhausted by their exertions, these hard and cruel men desisted, they wove a crown of thorns and drove it deep into My head, and as they filed before Me, they mockingly cried out: ‘We salute Thee, O King!’ Some insulted Me, others savagely struck Me on the head, and each and all added new agonies to those which already racked My body.

“O you whom I love, contemplate Me condemned to death, given over to the insults and profanations of the mob, scourged at the pillar, and as though all this were not sufficient to reduce Me to the most humiliating condition, now crowned with thorns, clothed in a purple rag, and derisively hailed as mock king . . . and treated as a fool. . . .

“I, the Son of God, who hold the universe in the palm of My hand, willed that in men’s eyes I should appear as the last and most contemptible of all. Far from flying from such humiliations, I willingly endured them to expiate man’s pride and draw souls to follow in My footsteps.

“I expiated by this painful crowning the pride of those who refuse to accept anything that lowers them in the eyes of the world.

“I allowed My shoulders to be covered by that cloak of mockery and Myself to be treated as a fool, so that many souls would not scorn to follow Me in a way that the world holds as vile and humiliating and which to them might seem beneath their condition.

“No path is contemptible or humbling when it is once marked out by the Will of God. You who feel interiorly drawn to this way . . . do not resist, do not try by the arguments of pride to do God’s Will while you follow your own. You will not find peace and joy in a position more or less brilliant in the eyes of men, but only in the accomplishment of God’s Will and in entire submission to all He may require of you.

“There are also in the world a number of souls who are bent on settling their future here on earth. Perhaps one or other feels drawn by a secret attraction towards someone in whom she finds good qualities, honor, faith, and piety, conscientiousness in business matters, a sense of duty to his family, all that she longs to see in one she loves . . . But suddenly pride takes possession of her mind. Doubtless in this way the longings of her heart will be satisfied, but not her vain ambition to shine in the eyes of the world. Then this soul turns away, looking for what will gain for her more attention from creatures by making her appear richer and nobler. How deliberately she is blinding herself. . . . No, indeed, you will not find the happiness you seek in this world; and God grant, that although you put yourself in such grave danger, you may find it in the next.

“And what shall I say to those whom I call to a life of perfection and love and who turn a deaf ear to My voice? How exposed to illusions are those who imagine themselves ready to do My Will, to follow Me and unite themselves to Me . . . and yet thrust deeply into My head the thorns of My crown. . . .

“There are souls whom I desire for My own; I know them intimately, and loving them as I do with infinite tenderness, I draw them in the direction in which My wisdom has prepared the most sure way of sanctity for them. There I propose to unveil My Heart to them, there they will give Me most love . . . and most souls, too. . . .

“But what resistance and what disappointment! How many of them, blinded by pride or the desire to satisfy nature or paltry ambition, their minds filled with vain thoughts, end by turning away from the path marked out by love.

“O souls specially chosen by My Heart, do you think that in following your inclinations you are giving Me the glory I expect of you . . . or doing My Will when you resist the call of grace or refuse through pride to follow Me in the way of love?

“Ah! Josefa, how many souls are blinded by pride! Today will you multiply acts of humility and submission to the Divine Will, to win for many souls the grace of following the way I have prepared for them with so much love.

“Tomorrow, Josefa, we shall come back on this essential point.”

Early on the morning of March 23rd, Friday in Passion week, Josefa was waiting, but her Master did not come; she therefore took her needlework and sat by the table on which her notebook lay open. Suddenly He appeared: “ Josefa, are you expecting Me?”

“Yes, Lord,” was her answer.

“I have been here some time, but you did not see Me. Kiss the ground, and kiss My feet, too. We are going to make souls understand how many allow themselves to be deceived by pride.

“Crowned with thorns and clothed in the purple mantle, and amidst overwhelming insults and mockeries, I was brought back by the soldiers to Pilate. . . . Finding in Me no crime worthy of death, he questioned Me again and asked Me why I did not reply, seeing that he had power to crucify Me or release Me.

“Then breaking silence I said: ‘Thou wouldst have no power over Me unless it were given thee from above, but the Scriptures must needs be fulfilled.’ After which I resumed My silence, surrendering Myself wholly to God.

“Pilate, meanwhile troubled by a message from his wife, and worried by the remorse of his conscience, and fearing that the people might turn against him if he refused to sentence Me to death, sought for a pretext to release Me. So, presenting Me to the people in the pitiable plight to which I had been reduced, he offered to free Me and condemn instead Barabbas the thief. But the multitude cried out angrily with one voice: ‘Let Him die! . . . He must die and let Barabbas be set free.’

“O all ye who love Me, consider how I was compared to a thief . . . or rather valued lower than a degraded criminal, one of the wickedest of men. Hear their cries of rage against Me and their vociferous clamors for My death.

“Far from seeking to escape this affront, I lovingly accepted it for love of souls, for love of you . . . desirous of showing you that My love was leading Me not only to death, but to contempt, ignominy and hatred of those very men for whom I should shed My blood in such profusion.

“I was treated as a disturber of the peace, as insane, a madman, and I accepted it all with the utmost meekness and humility.

“Do you think that in My human nature I felt no repugnance and grief? . . . I willed to know experimentally all that would have to be undergone by you, that you might draw strength from My example for all the circumstances of your life. So I did not free Myself, though this would have been easy, I accepted all lovingly, that thus fortified you might understand how to sacrifice every repugnance in order to accomplish the holy Will of God, My Father . . . repair His glory . . . expiate the sins of the world and win the salvation of many souls.

“Here I once more address Myself to the souls to whom I spoke yesterday. You who are called to a life of perfection, who parley with grace, and answer thus: ‘How can I live in continual obscurity? . . . I am not accustomed to that kind of life . . . to such lowly work . . . my family and friends will think me ridiculous . . . for I am gifted and could be more useful elsewhere, etc.’

“To you I make answer: ‘When I was to be born of poor and humble parents . . . far from My own country and home . . . in a stable . . . in the severest season of the year and the coldest of nights . . . did I hesitate? did I refuse?’

“During thirty years I knew the hard toil of an obscure workshop, bearing the contempt and indifference of those for whom My father St. Joseph worked . . . nor did I disdain to help My Mother in the humble and hidden occupations of her poor household. Had I not more knowledge than was needed for the humble trade of a carpenter—I who at twelve years of age taught the Doctors in the Temple? But such was My Father’s Will and consequently it was in this way that I gave Him glory. . . .

“From the beginning of My public life, I could have made Myself known at once as the Messiah and Son of God, so as to attract the attention and veneration of men to My teaching. I did not do so, because My one desire was to follow in all things My Father’s Will.

“And when the hour of My Passion had struck, see how in spite of the cruelty of some, the insults of others, the desertion of My own, the ingratitude of the crowds . . . the unspeakable martyrdom of My body and the intense repugnance of My human nature, I embraced with ever more love that holy Will.

“Thus when you submit yourselves generously to the Will of God in spite of natural interior opposition to it . . . the resistance of your family . . . the judgments of the world . . . when you have given yourself generously to the Will of God, then shall you be closely united to Him and taste ineffable sweetness.

“What I have said to souls who experience this keen repugnance to a humble and hidden life, I repeat to those called on the contrary to spend themselves in the service of the world, when their whole attraction is for a life of solitude and hidden labor.

“O chosen souls, your happiness and perfection do not lie in following your attraction, nor in living known or unknown to the world, in using or hiding the talents with which you have been endowed, in being thought much of or little . . . in having good health or not . . . but only and solely in embracing with love God’s Will, and being in perfect conformity with it in all it requires of you for His glory and your holiness.

“Enough for today, Josefa; we shall go on tomorrow. Love and carry out My Will with joyful alacrity, since it will mark out the path of love for you in all things.”

That evening, Josefa made the humble avowal that her Master’s recommendation was very much to the point. He wanted her through self-conquest to obtain a like grace for souls very much in need of it. We can learn His valuable lesson from her words.

“I again feel in myself,” she wrote, “a sort of revolt at this extraordinary kind of life. It disturbs my peace, I should so like to be allowed to work hard. . . .”

But Our Lord took no notice of this revulsion of feeling in her which changed neither His Will nor hers, and on Saturday, Passion week, March 24th, He was once more there to keep His tryst with her.

“Let us now return to the Passion,” He said to her, as if to drag her away from her own thoughts. This is undoubtedly the means of self-forgetfulness that Jesus offers to all souls.

“Meditate for a moment on the martyrdom of My supremely tender and loving Heart at finding Barabbas preferred to Me, and how, at seeing Myself so scorned, I felt cut to the quick by the cries of the crowd urging My death.

“I called to mind the sweet caresses of My Mother when she pressed Me to her heart . . . the toils of My adopted father, and the care with which he surrounded My life. . . .

“I reviewed in spirit the benefits so liberally bestowed by Me on this ungrateful people . . . how I had given sight to the blind . . . health to the sick . . . healing to the lame . . . how I had fed the multitude in the desert . . . and even raised the dead to life . . . and see now to what a contemptible state I am reduced . . . more hated, too, than perhaps any man has ever been . . . condemned to death as an infamous thief . . . the multitude has demanded My death. . . . Pilate has now given sentence. O all ye who love Me, attend and see the sufferings of My Heart!

“After the betrayal in the Garden of Olives, Judas wandered away, a fugitive, a prey to the reproaches of his conscience which taxed him with the most execrable of sacrileges. And when he heard that I was condemned to death, he gave himself up to despair and hanged himself.

“Who can measure the deep and intense grief of My Heart when I saw this soul so long taught by love . . . the recipient of My doctrine, one who had so often heard from My lips words of forgiveness for the most heinous crimes, finally throw himself into Hell fire?

“Ah! Judas, why not throw yourself at My feet that I may forgive you too? If you are afraid to come near Me because of the raging mob that surrounds Me, at least look at Me. . . . My eyes will meet yours, for even now they are lovingly intent upon you.

“O all you who are steeped in sin, and who for a time more or less long have lived as wanderers and fugitives because of your crimes . . . if the offenses of which you have been guilty have hardened and blinded your hearts . . . if to grant satisfaction to one or other of your passions you have sunk into evil ways . . . Ah! when the motives or accomplices of your sin have forsaken you, and you realize the state of your soul, O then, do not yield to despair! For as long as a breath of life remains a man may have recourse to mercy and ask for pardon.

“If you are still young, if already the scandals of your life have lowered you in the eyes of the world, do not be afraid. . . . Even if there is reason to treat you as a criminal, to insult and cast you off . . . your God has no wish to see you fall into the flames of Hell. . . . On the contrary He ardently desires you to come to Him so that He may forgive you. If you dare not speak to Him, at least look at Him and let the sighs of your heart reach Him, and at once you will find His kind and fatherly hand stretched out to lead you to the springs of pardon and life.

“Should it happen that you have spent the greater part of your life in impiety and indifference, and that the sudden approach of the hour of death fills you with blinding despair. . . . Ah! do not let yourself be deceived, for there is still time for pardon. If only one second of life remains to you, in that one second you can buy back eternal life!

“If your whole life has been spent in ignorance and error . . . if you have been a cause of great evil to other men, to society at large, or to religion, and if through some set of circumstances you have come to realize that you have been deceived . . . do not allow yourself to be crushed by the weight of your sins and of the evil of which you have been the instrument; but with a soul penetrated with deep contrition throw yourself into an abyss of confidence, and hasten to Him who awaits your return only to pardon you.

“The case is the same for a soul that has been faithful to the observance of My law from childhood, but who has gradually cooled off into the tepid and unspiritual ways of an easy life. She has so to say forgotten her soul and its higher aspirations. God was asking of her greater efforts, but blinded by habitual failings, she has fallen into tepidity worse than actual sin, for her deaf and drowsy conscience neither feels remorse nor hears the voice of God.

“Then, perhaps, that soul awakens with a shock of realization: life appears to have been a failure, empty and useless for her salvation. . . . She has lost innumerable graces, and the evil one, loath to lose her, makes the most of her distress, plunges her into discouragement, sadness and dejection . . . and finally casts her into fear and despair.

“O soul whom I love, pay no heed to this ruthless enemy . . . but as soon as possible have recourse to Me, and filled with deepest contrition implore My mercy and have no fear. I will forgive you. Take up again your life of fervor, and you will have back your lost merits, and My grace will never fail you.

“Finally, shall I speak to My chosen souls? Supposing that one has spent long years in the constant practice of the Rule and of her religious duties . . . a soul that I have favored with My grace and instructed by My counsels . . . a soul long faithful to My voice and to the inspirations of grace . . . and now this soul has cooled in her fervor on account of some petty passion . . . occasions of faults not avoided . . . some yielding to the claims of nature and a general relaxation of effort . . . and in consequence has fallen to a lower level . . . to a commonplace kind of life . . . then lastly, to give it its true name, tepidity. If, for one cause or another, you awake from this torpid state, the devil will instantly attack you in every way, jealous of a soul he hopes to claim. He will try to persuade you that it is too late, and that any effort is useless, he will accentuate your repugnance to make an avowal of your state of soul . . . he will, so to speak, throttle you to prevent you from speaking and accepting the light . . . he will do his best to stifle trust and confidence in your soul.

“But listen rather to My voice, and let Me tell you how to act: As soon as your soul is touched by grace, and before the struggle has even begun, hasten to My Heart; beg of Me to let a drop of My blood fall on your soul. . . . Ah! hasten to My Heart . . . and be without fear for the past; all has been swallowed up in the abyss of My mercy, and My love is preparing new graces for you. The memory of your lapses will be an incentive to humility and a source of merit, and you cannot give Me a greater proof of affection than to count on My full pardon and to believe that your sins will never be as great as My mercy, which is infinite.

“Remain hidden, Josefa, in the abyss of My love, praying that souls may be filled with the same sentiments.”

Passion week was to close with a sorrowful appeal in which the tender and strong compassion of the Heart of Jesus for souls once more became apparent.

It was some days since the night of March 21st, when Our Lady had brought Josefa the Cross of Jesus and told her: “Many sinners are grievously offending Him, but one especially is filling His Heart with sorrow.”

Such words were never wasted on Josefa. Anxiety about souls was an ever present appeal for her prayer, her work, her sufferings. But when she knew of some soul in need of her special acts of reparation, because it was causing Him sorrow, she could scarcely distract her mind from it.

On Saturday, March 24th, Our Lord appeared to her at half-past eight in the evening, just as she was coming out of her cell. He stopped her and said: “Josefa, are you willing to comfort Me for that soul that is wounding Me?”

He was carrying His Cross, and His face was sad but full of beauty. Prostrate at His feet, she instantly offered herself to do whatever He wished.

“Take My Cross and help Me to bear its weight,” He said. “Let us go and beg of My Heavenly Father to give her a ray of light to enlighten her and help her to repel the danger that threatens her. Let us present ourselves before Him as intercessors, that He may have compassion on that soul. . . . Let us beg Him to help her, to enlighten her, to sustain her, that she may not fall into temptation. Repeat with Me these words:

“ ‘O most loving Father! God, infinitely good, look upon Thy Son Jesus Christ, who placing Himself between Thy divine justice and sinners implores Thy pardon.

“ ‘O God of Mercy, pity human frailty. Send Thy light upon wandering souls that they may not be seduced and entrapped. . . . Strengthen souls that they may avoid the snares laid for them by the enemy of their salvation, and with fresh fervor return once more to the paths of virtue.

“ ‘O Eternal Father, look on the sufferings which Jesus Christ Thy divine Son endured in His Passion. Behold Him as a victim offered up to obtain for souls light and vigor, pardon and mercy.’

“Josefa, unite your sorrow with Mine, your anguish with My anguish, and offer them to My Eternal Father together with the merits and sufferings of all just souls. Offer Him the agonies of My Crown of Thorns to expiate the perverse thoughts of that soul. Say with Me once more:

“ ‘O all-holy God, in whose presence the angels and saints are not worthy to stand, forgive all the sins committed by thought and desire. Receive in expiation of these sins the thorn-crowned Head of Thy Son. Accept the blood that flows so copiously from His wounds. Purify minds that are sullied . . . enlighten and illumine the darkness of their understanding, and may this blood be their strength, their light, and their life.

“ ‘Receive, O Holy Father, the sufferings and the merits of all who, united to the sufferings and merits of Jesus Christ, offer themselves to Thee, with Him and by Him, that Thou mayest extend Thy pardon to all mankind.

“ ‘O God of mercy and love, be the strength of the feeble, the light of the blind, and may all men love Thee.’

“A long time was spent thus in prayer,” Josefa wrote. “Jesus was silent from time to time. The heavy weight of the Cross was on my shoulder and I endured keen suffering both of body and soul. He said again: ‘Repeat with Me:

“ ‘O God of love, Father of all goodness, by the prayers and sufferings of Thy Beloved Son give that soul the light she needs, that strengthened by Thee she may reject evil and with energy accomplish Thy holy Will. Do not allow her to be the cause of so much evil both for herself and for other pure and innocent souls.’

“It was getting late. Jesus said: ‘Now, Josefa, keep My Cross till that soul has realized the truth and has opened her heart to admit true light.’

“Then He went away, and I remained suffering much, till morning dawned.”

These mysterious sufferings were of great intensity; Josefa bore them humbly and with singular courage, uniting herself to her Master. She knew that He alone gave them a reparatory value and could render them efficacious to transform that poor soul.

She spent the whole of Palm Sunday in painful intercessory prayer, and while she offered herself as a victim, Jesus was drawing, detaching, touching and once more taking possession of that wandering soul. O marvelous exchange of the communion of Saints!

That evening the Good Shepherd with exulting Heart would bear the lost sheep home, while Heaven rejoiced in Love’s victory.

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