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The Way Of Divine Love
by -Sr. Josefa Menendez



“Hitherto My Cross has rested on you. My Will now is that you should rest on it.”
(Our Lord to Josefa, October 27th, 1923)

GENOA . . . Paris . . . Poitiers! The rapid if uneventful journey home ended on October 26th, at five o’clock in the evening, when the travelers found the expectant Community waiting to welcome them. As in the preceding June, after the first burst of joyous inquiries and the questions at recreations about all that had happened in Rome, Josefa sank into the shadow, and silence deepened around her. It was thus that Jesus had all along been pleased to veil His familiar intercourse with her, and so to the end He would hide His last messages, as well as the sufferings and trials which would complete His work.

The last stage was to be a short one, and Josefa knew it. The exhaustion which was wearing out her whole being was sufficient warning of her approaching end. Side by side with it was the strong call of love, detaching and irresistible in its appeal.

On Saturday, October 27th, after a restful night, she wrote her thanks to the Mother General. It was a very simple, unstudied and spontaneous little letter, which we quote, for in it was revealed her fresh and naïve soul, which knew nothing of striving for effect.

“Very Reverend Mother,

“I write to you today with great joy to thank you for all the kindness you have shown me.

“May Jesus repay you for it all. . . . I have been asking this of Him with my whole heart, and to you, Very Reverend Mother, I promise to do my utmost to be very faithful during the four or five months of life that remain to me. I will do and say whatever Jesus tells me, and will try to be a little more humble. I think that is what costs me most . . . that is why I promise it in all sincerity, and it will be by such efforts that I shall try to repair a little for my past life.

“For the moment, I am in great peace and very happy, although I have not seen either Jesus or Our Lady or our Holy Mother again.

“I am glad to be back at Poitiers, but I shall never forget the days spent at the Mother-House, and the maternal affection I found there. I shall not forget you in my prayers either, and when I get to Heaven I will try to scatter many ‘regalitos’ (little gifts) on the Mothers whom I love so much, and to obtain for them little joys in those things they need.

“Bless me, Very Reverend Mother, I remain always

“Your little and humble child in the Heart of Jesus,

“JOSEFA MENÉNDEZ.”

Our Lord did not long delay His return, He seemed in haste to tell her His plans for the last days of her life. On the evening of October 27th, she wrote:

“He came all beautiful, with His Crown of Thorns in His hand. I was delighted, for I had not seen Him since I left Rome, So I told Him all that fills my heart, and He answered so tenderly. ‘Why, Josefa, do you suppose that I do not know that you are here again? . . . It was I that brought you back!’ ”

“Now do not be afraid,” He continued, as He read in her soul’s depths the ever-present fear of Satan’s snares. “It really is I Myself, Jesus, the Son of the Immaculate Virgin, your Saviour and Beloved.”

Then with grave kindness, He added: “Hitherto, My Cross has rested on you. My Will now is that you should rest on it. You know that the Cross is the patrimony of My chosen souls.”

It was impossible for Josefa not to surrender to a love that solicited her suffering so graciously. At once she offered herself, and looking longingly at the Crown, she ventured to beg Him to leave it in her keeping.

“Yes,” was His reply, “today My Crown of Thorns, and soon My Crown of Glory. . . . Leave it all to Me. . . . Let Me work in you and through you for souls. I love you . . . love Me.”

The work of love, mysterious and divine, was about to receive its consummation.

The next day, October 28th, Josefa resumed her ordinary occupations. As was her custom, she went toward nightfall to make the Stations of the Cross in the little Auxiliary Chapel she so loved, and of which she had again been given the charge, to her extreme satisfaction.

“After I had finished the Stations,” she wrote, “I recited the five Our Fathers in honor of His wounds. I had hardly begun the first when He appeared. He stretched out His right hand, then His left, and as I recited the five Paters, a ray of light shone from each of His wounds. I renewed my vows, and at the end He said to me: ‘I am Jesus, Josefa, the Son of the Immaculate Virgin. Behold the wounds that were opened on the Cross to redeem the world from eternal death and give it life! They obtain forgiveness and mercy for so many who incense the Father, and they, henceforth, will bestow on them light, strength and love.’

“Then, pointing to His wounded Heart: ‘This wound is the fiery furnace to which chosen souls, especially the brides of My Heart, must come to enkindle theirs. This wound is theirs; It belongs to them with all the graces it contains, that they may distribute them to the world, to the many souls who do not know where to seek them, and to so many others who despise them.’

“Then,” wrote Josefa, “I asked Him to teach these souls how to make Him known and loved.

“ ‘I will give them all the light they need, that they may know how to utilize their treasure, and not only to make Me known and loved, but also to repair the outrages with which sinners overwhelm Me. Alas! The world offends Me, but it will be saved by the reparation of My chosen souls.

“ ‘Farewell, Josefa. Love, for love is reparation and reparation is love.’ ”

The following days were to be a response to this appeal.

On the first day of the week Josefa had returned to her work-room where everyone welcomed her with joy. Much needlework had been done during October, for a large increase in the school necessitated a great deal of industry to finish the uniforms for all. It gave her great pleasure to see how her Sisters had worked, and above all she was delighted to think that her death would not cause much inconvenience, now that she was so ably replaced by those she had trained. She felt that they must gradually take over all responsibility in the workroom; and though she continued to spend long hours at her needle, for the most part she mended and darned, leaving the initiative and management to the young nun who was her substitute, just guiding her by an encouraging look when occasion demanded it.

This effacement, which so entirely detached her from the employment she had loved, was in itself precious to her soul. Though her attraction for it never changed, she became if possible more kindly and helpful and her smile more radiant, in spite of her exhaustion.

In the midst of these last efforts, the secret chiseling by which Our Lord conformed her to His Passion and Cross was continued. November had hardly begun than the devil once more tried the same wiles that had caused her such agony in Rome. He appeared to her under the lineaments of Our Lord and allowed her to renew her vows, but when asked to repeat the Divine Praises and the words that Jesus so exultingly gloried in saying: “I am Jesus, the Son of the Immaculate Virgin. . . .” “Say it yourself; that will do,” was the answer he gave her. In vain he tried to simulate the words Jesus used, but Josefa repulsed him with indignation. But her soul was troubled by this and by the thought of her approaching death, and day after day went by in painful anguish of spirit.

“And so,” she wrote, “from October 28th to November 13th I did not see Our Lord again.”

On the feast of Saint Stanislaus, Patron of the Novices, light once more shone on her troubled path.

“This morning after Communion,” she wrote, “Jesus came. He was beautiful, in His wounds were shining flames, and before I could say a single word He said: ‘Do not fear; I am Jesus, the Son of the Immaculate Virgin.’ ”

Then He gently repeated the Divine Praises with her, and in order to reassure her fully, He said: “Yes, I am Love, I am the Son of the Immaculate Virgin, I am the Bridegroom of virgin souls, the Strength of the feeble, the Light of souls, their Life, their Reward and their End. My Blood cleanses all their sins; I make reparation for them, I am their Redeemer.”

Josefa was fully reassured by such kindness, and told Jesus of all the sufferings of the last days, especially of her lassitude, which made work impossible and gave her a presentiment that her end was near.

“But Josefa,” was His tender reply, “do you not long to possess Me and enjoy Me without end? . . . I, on My part, long for you! I glory in those who do My Will always and in all things, and for that reason I chose you. Leave Me free to do with you what I know will be both for My glory and for your good. The winter of this life is about to end. . . . I am your Beatitude!”

Then Jesus arranged to give her the second message which she was soon to pass on to the Bishop of Poitiers. A little later He rejoined Josefa in her cell. He began by dictating His message for the Bishop; after which He spoke for a wider following:

“I desire that My love should be the sun to enlighten, and the heat to reanimate souls. That is why My words must reach them. I want all the world to recognize in Me a God of mercy and of love. I wish that everywhere My desire to forgive and save souls should be read, and that not even the most wretched be kept back by fear . . . nor the most guilty fly from Me. . . . Let them all come. I await them with open arms like the most affectionate of fathers in order to impart life and true happiness to them.

“That the world may know My clemency, I need apostles who will reveal My Heart . . . but first these must know It themselves . . .

otherwise how can they teach others?

“So for the next few days, I will speak for My priests, My religious and My nuns, that all may clearly understand what I require: I want them to form a league of love in order to teach and publish the love and mercy of My Heart to all men, even to the extremities of the world. I want the need and desire for reparation to be re-awakened and grow among faithful and chosen souls, for the world is full of sin . . . and at this present moment nations are arousing the wrath of God. But He desires His reign to be one of love, hence this appeal to chosen souls, especially those of this nationality. He asks them to repair, to obtain pardon, and above all to draw down grace on this country which was the first to know My Heart and spread devotion to It.

“I want the world to be saved . . . peace and union to prevail everywhere. It is My Will to reign, and reign I shall, through reparation made by chosen souls, and through a new realization by all men of My kindness, My mercy and My love.

“My words will be light and life for an incalculable number of souls. They will all be printed, read, and preached, and I will grant very special grace, that by them souls may be enlightened and transformed.”

“Mis palabras serán la luz y la vida para muchísimas almas. Todas se imprimirán se leerán y se predicarán. Yo daré gracia especial para que hagan bien y para que sean la luz de las almas.’

Her Master had spoken with such ardor and force that Josefa was greatly struck. Now He was silent, and she adored the Divine Will which in affirming its plans removed her last fears.

“I begged Him to forgive my still doubting,” she wrote, “though He better than any understands the snares of the evil one. . . . With the utmost kindness, He answered me: ‘Do you suppose that I would give you over to be the sport of that cruel enemy? I love you and I will never let you be deceived. You must not fear, but trust Me who am Love.’ ”

Such messages could hardly be bought but at a high price . . . and this price was first to be paid by their messenger through intense suffering. She was fully aware of it, and day by day her oblation deepened.

Since the beginning of November, Josefa’s physical sufferings by day and principally by night had been destroying her, while intolerable pains, the cause of which could not be ascertained, increased in severity every Friday.

She was forced to spend November 9th stretched on a bed of pain; she was practically unable to stir, her head, chest and limbs worn out by excruciating agonies. . . . A renewal of the hemorrhage seemed to bring her to death’s door, and the doctors in consultation were not able to diagnose the cause. On Thursday, the 15th, towards eight in the evening, she had a most painful attack which seemed to presage death. It was renewed during the night, but when the morning of the 16th dawned Our Lord was brought to her in Holy Communion, and He appeared to her during her thanksgiving. These were moments of bliss and they gave Josefa strength to continue her ascent of Calvary.

“Have no anxiety,” He said to her. “I am your Life and your Strength. I am your All, and I will not forsake you.”

Then He reminded her of the visit of the Bishop which was to take place in the near future:

“As to yourself, remain in My hands, for I want to speak to My chosen ones. Leave Me entirely free. Thus shall I glorify Myself.”

This liberty was expressed chiefly in the gift of suffering. Three times that same Friday: at nine, at midday, and again between three and four, Jesus meant to associate her closely with the suffering of His Passion. As soon as she recovered a little she would rise and with incredible energy make an effort to resume her work. Thus it was that from day to day Josefa offered up to Him who was immolating her the sacrifice of a life which was going forward to its consummation.

On Tuesday, November 21st, Feast of Our Lady’s Presentation, she publicly renewed her vows with all the other young Sisters. She had prepared herself for this feast of oblation with a love that suffering had but stirred into a flame. She knew it was the last time that her voice would be heard in the Chapel renewing the vows that bound her to the Heart of Jesus and to the work of love.

During her thanksgiving Jesus appeared and said to her: “I, too, Josefa, renew the promise that I have made to you to love you and be faithful to you. Though I have made you suffer, this is not because I love you less: I do love you, and will love you to the end, but I need suffering to heal the wounds of sin. Farewell, stay with Me, as I with you.”

A few days later, on November 24th, Mgr. de Durfort paid Josefa a long and most kind visit. This was a great comfort to her, and she received it gratefully and simply as an immense grace.

Her complete unawareness of the importance of the role she was being called upon to play struck the holy old man very much. Her one preoccupation was the furtherance of Our Lord’s interests. Her share in the work of love, her personal sufferings, shown only too evidently by the exhaustion of her frame, were of no account to her, when compared with the plans and desires of her Master. She transmitted these to the Bishop with such exactness and objective clarity that no detail was lost, even in her halting French. And just as simply as she had for the moment come out of the shade, so did she once more step back into the way of suffering and purification which was more than ever hers.

Once more as November drew to a close, Tuesday, the 27th, Our Lord showed Himself to her as a blissful vision of peace, which she thus described:

“While I was making my adoration this evening before the Blessed Sacrament, I could find nothing to say to Him, so, that I might not lose my time, I read the Litany of the Sacred Heart very slowly. Then as there was still a little time over, I took the invocations of the First Friday Novena

These invocations are said as a novena in all the Convents of the Sacred Heart in preparation for the First Friday, and are a protestation of union with the feelings and affections of the Heart of Jesus.

and when I got to the words ‘To Thy close union with the Heavenly Father, I unite myself,’ He suddenly appeared in radiant beauty. His raiment seemed to be woven of gold, His Heart was a blazing furnace and from the wound in It came dazzling light. I renewed my vows and begged Him to pardon me for being so cold in His presence. It seemed to me though that it was not from want of love, because I love Him more than anything on earth . . . He listened to me and looked at me, and then said: ‘Do you know, Josefa, that that prayer is so pleasing to Me and is of such worth, that it far surpasses the most eloquent and sublime ones that could be offered Me. What is of greater value than My Heart’s union with My Heavenly Father? . . . When souls say this prayer they penetrate, as it were, into My Heart, unite themselves to My good pleasure for them. They unite themselves to God, and this is the most supernatural act that can be done here below, for by it they begin to live a heavenly life which consists of nothing else than the perfect and intimate union of the creature with its God and Creator.

“ ‘Continue your prayer, Josefa, for by it you adore, repair, merit and love. Yes, go on with that prayer, and I will continue the work of love.’

“Then I committed all my distresses to His Heart,” she wrote, “and He replied: ‘Be not disquieted . . . It is I Myself who am directing everything.’ ”

Blind faith in the guidance of Love was Josefa’s loadstone in these hours of darkness and obscurity. Overwhelmed by physical suffering she seemed to be thrown on her own unaided resources. She suffered deep dejection of soul which reduced her to a kind of moral agony. Yet her faith in Him who permitted it all never wavered; it sufficed that it was His permissive will, and, impotent but trustful, she gave herself up to the purifying action of Love.








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