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The Way Of Divine Love
by -Sr. Josefa Menendez

“All My longing is to set hearts on fire . . . to set the whole world on fire.”
(Our Lord to Josefa, June 12th, 1923)

THE time has now come, when according to the Divine Will, Josefa was to transmit the desires of the Sacred Heart to the Bishop of Poitiers. Very gravely Our Lord prepared her for the continuation of His Message on Sunday, June 10th. It looked as if He wanted all possible security for His words, while at the same time He reassured and strengthened His frail intermediary, Josefa.

“While I was writing in my cell this morning Jesus came,” noted Josefa. “His wonderful beauty was enhanced by the majesty and sovereign power that the tone of His voice expressed. ‘Josefa,’ He said, ‘humble yourself, and make an act of entire submission to God’s holy Will.’

“I prostrated myself in adoration before Him and He continued: ‘Offer My Heart the profound, tender, and generous love of yours.’

“This I did from the very depths of my being. Then He was silent, as if waiting for something further. . . .

“I renewed my vows. I told Him that I belong to Him and that I am ready to do whatever He wills. I think that was what He was waiting for, for then He said: ‘As I have triumphed over your heart and your love, you will not refuse Me anything, will you?’

“ ‘No, dear Lord, I am Thine forevermore.’

“ ‘Then tomorrow I will come and tell you what in the first place you are to communicate to the Bishop.’ ”

Josefa was filled with fear. “I was unable to hide it,” she wrote, “and I told Him how frightened I feel at the mere thought of it.”

“You need have no fear,” He replied. “My Heart is watching over you, and besides, it is for souls.”

This assurance somewhat allayed her anxiety.

“When I think of having to speak of all those things to His Lordship the Bishop, I am very frightened,” she noted, “but I am certain that Jesus will give me the courage I need.

“That evening, when Jesus came to forgive my sins, I again told Him of my fear.

“ ‘You will have to suffer, Josefa, but it is for souls, and did I not suffer Myself to redeem and save them?’ ”

Our Blessed Lord stimulated her generosity by laying such motives before her, and her close union with His Sacred Heart also helped her to accept all that was to be demanded of her.

On Monday, June 11th, in the quiet of her thanksgiving after Communion, something of the vastness of His plans was revealed to Josefa.

“Why are you afraid?” He said. “Do you not know that I love you and am watching over you? It is all for souls. . . . They must know Me . . . they must love Me more. . . . Children ought to make their father known. You are My well-loved daughter specially chosen, that through you I may be revealed and that My Heart may be glorified. You need not fear, for I am strong and will make you strong; I am Love and will sustain you. . . . I will not abandon you.”

A few minutes later Our Lord rejoined her in her cell. “I am now about to tell you, Josefa, the first thing that you are to tell the Bishop. Kiss the ground!”

She renewed her vows and prostrated herself at His feet. Then Jesus began to speak and Josefa wrote:

“I am Love! My Heart can no longer contain its devouring flames. I love souls so dearly that I have sacrificed My life for them.

“It is this love that keeps Me a prisoner in the Tabernacle. For nearly twenty centuries I have dwelt there, night and day, veiled under the species of Bread and concealed in the small white Host, bearing through love, neglect, solitude, contempt, blasphemies, outrages, sacrileges. . . .

“For love of souls, I instituted the Sacrament of Penance, that I might forgive them, not once or twice, but as often as they need to recover grace. There I wait for them, longing to wash away their sins, not in water, but in My blood.

“How often in the course of the ages have I, in one way or another, made known My love for men: I have shown them how ardently I desire their salvation. I have revealed My Heart to them. This devotion has been as light cast over the whole earth, and today is a powerful means of gaining souls, and so of extending My kingdom.

“Now, I want something more, for if I long for love in response to My own, this is not the only return I desire from souls: I want them all to have confidence in My mercy, to expect all from My clemency, and never to doubt My readiness to forgive.

“I am God, but a God of love! I am a Father, but a Father full of compassion and never harsh. My Heart is infinitely holy but also infinitely wise, and knowing human frailty and infirmity stoops to poor sinners with infinite mercy.

“I love those who after a first fall come to Me for pardon. . . . I love them still more when they beg pardon for their second sin, and should this happen again, I do not say a million times but a million million times, I still love them and pardon them, and I will wash in My blood their last as fully as their first sin.

“Never shall I weary of repentant sinners, nor cease from hoping for their return, and the greater their distress, the greater My welcome. Does not a father love a sick child with special affection? Are not his care and solicitude greater? So is the tenderness and compassion of My Heart more abundant for sinners than for the just.

“This is what I wish all to know. I will teach sinners that the mercy of My Heart is inexhaustible. Let the callous and indifferent know that My Heart is a fire which will enkindle them, because I love them. To devout and saintly souls I would be the Way, that making great strides in perfection, they may safely reach the harbor of eternal beatitude. Lastly, of consecrated souls, priests and religious, My elect and chosen ones, I ask, once more, all their love and that they should not doubt Mine, but above all that they should trust Me and never doubt My mercy. It is so easy to trust completely in My Heart!”

Here Jesus ended His appeal. He gave Josefa a few indications to be transmitted to her director, who was to lay the whole matter before the Bishop, and reading in Josefa’s soul all the anxiety she felt: “Why, why do you fear?” and tenderly He soothed her. “You know that I love you. . . . You know, too, that it is for souls and for My glory. Do not be troubled. . . . Just carry out My directions and give Me all the time that I want.”

The following day, Tuesday, June 12th, on entering her cell at about eight in the morning, she found her Master already there, and waiting for her. After a few moments spent in adoration, she renewed her vows and once more offered herself to His Will. Jesus then continued from where He had stopped the day before.

“I want to forgive. I want to reign over souls and pardon all nations. I want to rule souls, nations, the whole world. My peace must be extended over the entire universe, but in a special way over this dear country where devotion to My Heart first took root. . . . O that I might be its peace, its life, its King. I am Wisdom and Beatitude! I am Love and Mercy! I am Peace, I shall reign! I will shower My mercies on the world to wipe out its ingratitude. To make reparation for its crimes, I will choose victims who will obtain pardon . . . for there are in the world many whose desire is to please Me . . . and there are moreover generous souls who will sacrifice everything they possess, that I may use them according to My Will and good pleasure.

“My reign will be one of peace and love and I shall inaugurate it by compassion on all: such is the end I have in view and this is the great work of My love.”

Then with divinest condescension Our Lord explained to Josefa, that she might tell the Bishop the reasons that caused His choice of the Society of the Sacred Heart to be the intermediary to the world of His designs. “It is founded on love, its end is love, its life is love . . . and what is love but My Heart?”

Thus did Our Lord outline in a few brief words the bond that was to exist between His work and the Society.

“As for you,” He said to Josefa, “I have chosen you as a useless and incapable being, so that it may be clearly I who speak, who ask, who act.

“My appeal is addressed to all: to those consecrated in religion and to those living in the world, to the good and to sinners, to the learned and to the illiterate, to those in authority and to those who obey. To each of them I come to say: if you seek happiness you will find it in Me. If riches, I am infinite Wealth. If you desire peace, in Me alone is peace to be found. I am Mercy and Love! and I must be sovereign King. . . .”

Then, turning to Josefa, who was kneeling and had just transcribed the last burning words of her Master: “This is what you will first give the Bishop to read.”

There followed again a few brief words, a personal communication for His Lordship. Our Lord then continued: “Let him not be surprised at the kind of instruments I use, for My power is infinite and self-sufficient. Let him trust Me. I will bless his undertakings. . . . And now, Josefa, I shall begin to speak direct to the world, and I desire that My words be made known after your death. As regards yourself, you will live in the most complete and the deepest obscurity, and because I have chosen you as My victim you will suffer, and overwhelmed with pain, you will die! Do not look for rest or alleviation; you will find none, for so have I disposed things. But My love will uphold you, and never shall I fail you!”

In these few moments, Jesus revealed to Josefa the last stage of her life: her meeting with the ecclesiastical authority whose control was to be an assurance of God’s blessing . . . the Message that she was charged to deliver to all souls thirsting for mercy, peace, and happiness . . . her mission as a victim inseparable from the Message and the source from which it would draw its fruitfulness . . . the hiddenness which would continue to veil her suffering days and nights . . . and finally her death, overwhelmed by pain. All this, down to the minutest details He Himself arranged; her part was full adherence to His work of love, which so soon now He would complete in her and by her means.

That night Our Lord once more renewed the gift of a flame from His Heart: “I come to consume you with fire and set you alight,” He told her. “All My longing is to set souls on fire . . . those of the entire world. . . . Alas! they turn from the flame, but I shall triumph, they will be Mine, and I shall be their King. Suffer with Me, that the world may know Me, and that souls may come to Me. It is by suffering that love will triumph.”

It was on Wednesday, June 13th, that, as He had said, Our Lord gave a direct Message to the crowd of souls on whom He had compassion . . . the throng of the hungry and thirsty, of those in labor and strife, who suffer and weep in hopeless misery . . . who seek, want, long for, but do not find the security and happiness they so eagerly desire. To all of them Jesus opened His Heart.

“Mankind must know Me,” He said. “I want men to know My love. Do they know what I have done for them?”

And this was precisely what He was about to explain to them.

It almost seemed as if the days in Galilee had returned, when Jesus, seated in the midst of a great concourse of people on the peaceful hillsides, taught them in parables and held them fascinated by the wisdom of His words, and absorbed by the radiance of truth. Then all alike, high and low, sinners and sinless, the lettered and the ignorant, all listened to Him. Some were stirred to their souls’ depths, others were rebellious to the secret pleadings of Love . . . some drawn by the simplicity of His parables, and others again subdued by the clarity of His instructions. “The sower went forth to sow the seed,” He said, “and it fell abundantly.” He watched, as He alone could, able to penetrate into the depths of each soul, and see the answer it would give.

So now once again Jesus spoke to the world in a parable, this time to make known the vastness of His all-embracing love.

“So now, Josefa, write.

“A father had an only son.

“They were rich and powerful, served by devoted retainers, and surrounded by all that makes for honor, comfort and pleasure in life, and nothing, neither person nor thing, was wanting to their good fortune. The son was all in all to the father, and the father to the son, and each found in the other perfect contentment, though not so as to exclude others, for such noble and generous hearts felt sympathy for anyone in distress, however slight it might be.

“Now it came to pass that one of the servants of this good master fell ill, and as the danger increased, the only hope of saving his life lay in the application of powerful remedies and most careful nursing.

“But this servant lay at his poor and lonely home. At which the master felt alarm, for if left deserted, the man would certainly die. What was to be done? True, a fellow servant could be sent to minister to him; but such service, done for gain rather than love, gave no assurance against possible neglect.

“So, moved with compassion, the master called his son, and told him of his anxiety. He explained how near death the poor man was, and that the most unremitting care alone could save him.

“Like father, like son! The offer to go himself to succor the dying man is made at once. He will spare neither trouble, fatigue nor night watches until the servant’s health is fully re-established.

“The father accepts his son’s offer, and willingly allows him to take on the likeness of a servant, that he may serve him who is his slave.

“Many months go by, months of anxious watching by the sick-bed, till at length health is restored, for nothing has been spared that could not only cure his sickness, but also ensure his complete well-being. And what of the servant? With a heart overflowing with gratitude, he asks what he can do in return for such marvelous charity.

“ ‘Go,’ said the son, ‘seek out my father and with restored health offer yourself to become his most faithful servant in return for his liberality.’

“Overwhelmed by his obligations, the man stands in humble gratitude before his benefactor and proffers his services gratis, forever. What need has he of remuneration from such a master, who has treated him not as a servant, but as a son.

“This parable is but a pale image of the love I bear to mankind, and of the loving return I look for from them. I will explain it so that all men may know My Heart.”

There was a moment’s silence . . . then Jesus turned to Josefa. With ardor He urged: “Help Me, Josefa; help Me to let men know how I love them! For this am I come, that they may know that they will never find true happiness except in Me . . . suffer, Josefa, and love, for we two are out to conquer souls!”

The remainder of that day she passed in humble labor and fidelity like that of the other Sisters, but her mind was preoccupied and absorbed in her Master. When night came, again Jesus exchanged the flame for her heart, leaving her on fire with love. Before leaving, He said: “I thirst . . . yes, I thirst for a soul that must die tonight.”

Josefa asked if it was a sinner to be rescued. . . . No, it was a soul very much loved by His Heart. “But I want your suffering to make up for the graces which, owing to her frailty, she has neglected, so that in the short span of life that remains to her she may attain a higher degree of glory.”

We can but wonder at Our Lord’s all-powerful goodness to the souls He loves! He watches over them, to increase, if possible, their perfection, even to their last breath. Who would not be touched at the thoughtful kindness with which such an intention is presented to apostolic prayer and sacrifice! We know that sinners need the prayers that are to save them from eternal damnation, but cooperation in prayer for saintly souls who are about to die is no less important in His eyes, for in the last and supreme hour He puts the finishing touch to His handiwork.

For Josefa, after a day of labor the night was full of pain, till suddenly a bright light broke in on the darkness of her cell, and a deep peace overwhelmed her soul. Every vestige of suffering disappeared.

“That soul has entered into glory,” Our Lady told her next day after her Communion. Such were the apostolic victories that more than made up to Josefa for whatever she had to expend in prayer and suffering, and attached her more deeply than ever to the interests of the Sacred Heart.

On Thursday, June 14th, when she was awaiting Our Lord in her cell, “He appeared,” she wrote, “vested in extraordinary majesty.”

“Josefa,” He said, “humble yourself to the very ground. Adore your God, to make reparation for the contempt and offenses He receives from the greater part of mankind. . . . Love Him, to make up for their ingratitude. . . . And now write.”

Our Lord then explained the parable of yesterday:

“God created man out of pure love. He placed him on the earth in circumstances that ensured his happiness until the day of eternal bliss should dawn for him. But to have a right to such felicity he is bound to keep the sweet and wise laws laid down by his Maker.

“Man, unfaithful to this law, fell grievously sick; sin was committed by our first parents, and all mankind, their descendants, contracted this guilt and lost their right to the perfect beatitude promised them by God; and pain, suffering and death became henceforth their lot.

“Now God, in perfect bliss, has no need of man or of his services. He is sufficient unto Himself. Infinite is His glory and nothing can diminish it.

“Infinite in power, He is also infinite in goodness; hence He will not allow man, created out of love, to perish; instead, He met the grave evil of sin with a remedy infinite in price: one of the divine Persons of the Blessed Trinity, assuming human nature, will repair in a godlike manner the evil of the Fall.

“The Father gives His Son, the Son sacrifices His glory. He comes to earth not as an all-powerful Lord and Master, but in poverty as a servant and as a child.

“The life He led on earth is known to you all.

“You know how from the first moment of the Incarnation I submitted to all human afflictions. In My childhood I endured cold, hunger, poverty, and persecution.

“In My life of labor, how often humiliation and contempt were meted out to the carpenter’s son. How often after a hard day’s work we, My foster-father and I, found that we had earned hardly sufficient to support us. . . . and this I continued for thirty long years.

“Then, forgoing the sweet company of My Mother, I devoted Myself to the task of making My heavenly Father known. I went about teaching men that God is Love.

“I went about doing good to bodies as well as souls: to the sick I gave back their health; the dead I raised to life; and to souls? . . . Ah! to souls I restored liberty . . . that liberty which they had lost through sin, and I opened to them the gates of their everlasting home—Heaven.

“Then came the hour when to win salvation for them the Son of God willed to surrender life itself.

“And how did He die? . . . Was He surrounded by friends? . . . Acclaimed as a benefactor? . . . Beloved ones, you know that the Son of God did not will to die thus. He who had preached nothing but love was the victim of hatred. . . . He who had brought peace to the world was treated most cruelly. . . . He who came to bring men freedom was imprisoned, bound, ill-used, calumniated, and finally died on a cross between two thieves . . . contemned, abandoned, abject and despoiled of everything.

“It was thus He surrendered Himself for man’s salvation. It was thus He accomplished the work for which He had voluntarily left His Father’s glory. Man was sick and wounded, and the Son of God came down to him. He not only restored fallen man to life, but earned for him both strength and power to acquire in this life the treasures of eternal beatitude.

“And what was man’s response?

“Did he, like the grateful servant, offer his ministrations gratis and renounce any other but his Master’s interests? . . .

“Let us consider and distinguish . . . for there are different ways in which a response has been made by man.

“But this is enough for today. Remain in My peace, Josefa, and do not forget that you are My victim. Love, and leave all the rest to Me.”

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