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The Way Of Divine Love
by -Sr. Josefa Menendez

“It is My Will to speak now to My consecrated religious.”
(Our Lord to Josefa, December 4th, 1923)

THIS last Advent, the most wonderful and significant of Josefa’s life, opened soon after the beginning of December. She was waiting in the true sense of the word. And the dark night of her soul was pierced from time to time by a ray of light at the thought of the bliss that was soon to be hers forever. How thrilled she was in such moments at the thought of the great day for which she longed so vehemently. Then the horizon grew dark again, all the darker indeed, for the fleeting ray of light that had preceded it.

The last lines of the Message were to be written in the first week of this same month. On Monday, December 3rd, Saint Madeleine Sophie came to prepare her for this completion of her mission.

“Come to my cell,” she said to her that morning—and Josefa went. Our Holy Mother was already there, and said reassuringly: “Yes, I am your Mother, the poor creature whom God chose to be the foundation stone of this little Society.”

After these opening words which calmed Josefa’s misgivings, she continued: “Jesus is coming! Await Him with great humility, but with joy and trust. He is the Father of mercies, always ready to pour out His loving-kindness on all His creatures, but especially on those who are very little and abject. Listen with great reverence to His wishes, His commands, and all His words, and may the Society preserve them carefully.”

Then our Holy Mother stressed what was the authentic sign for each of its members: “Tell them not to be afraid of suffering; they must never recoil from suffering, and above all (and this is a message from their Mother,) never let the graces showered on the Society lessen their humility, the most precious of all treasures. The more humble the Society is, the more Our Lord will favor it.”

Jesus was about to make His last appeal to these chosen souls consecrated to His Sacred Heart.

On Tuesday, December 4th, Josefa, occupied with her needlework, was sitting in her cell, when Our Lady appeared to her, the dawn before sunrise. Josefa renewed her vows and asked her to repeat with her what Satan had never been able to say: “My God, I love Thee and I want the whole world to know and love Thee.”

With motherly affection and enthusiasm Our Lady complied.

“She repeated the words,” said Josefa, “and added: ‘ . . . because Thou art infinitely good and merciful. Yes, daughter, Jesus is full of compassion for little and abject souls. He forgives them and He loves them dearly. His goodness makes Him incline to the lowly, and His strength sustains the feeble. Let your littleness lose itself in His greatness. And now wait for Him lovingly, for He is coming. . . . ’ ”

“She disappeared, and a very few moments later Our Lord was present. I renewed my vows and at once He said: ‘It is I, Josefa, so do not be afraid. I am Love, Goodness, and Mercy. . . . I am the Son of the Immaculate Virgin, the Son of God . . . and God Himself!’ ”

After these assurances which banished every trace of doubt, He spoke and she wrote:

“I wish to speak today to My consecrated religious, that they may make Me known to sinners and to the whole world.

“There are many among them who as yet are unable to understand My true feelings. They treat Me as One far away . . . known only slightly, and in whom they have too little confidence. I want them to rekindle their faith and love, and live trustfully in My intimacy, loving and loved.

“It is usually the eldest son of the family who knows best the mind and secret affairs of his father. In him the father is wont to confide more than in the younger ones, who as yet are unable to interest themselves in serious matters, or penetrate below the surface of things. So when the father comes to die, it behooves the eldest brother to transmit his wishes and will to these the younger ones.

“In My Church, too, I have elder sons: they are those whom I Myself have chosen, consecrated by the priesthood or by the vows of religion. They live nearest to Me; they share in My choicest graces, and to them I confide My secrets, My desires . . . and My sufferings also. I have committed to them the care of My little children, their brothers, and through their ministry they must, directly or indirectly, guide them and transmit My teaching to them.

“If these chosen souls know Me truly, they will make Me known to others; if they love Me, they will make others love Me. But how can they teach their brethren if they hardly know Me themselves? . . . I ask you: Can there be much love in the heart for One who is barely known? Or what intimate converse can be exchanged with One who is avoided . . . or in whom one has little confidence? . . .

“This is precisely what I wish to recall to the minds of My chosen ones. Nothing new, doubtless, but they have need to reanimate their faith, their love and their trust.

“I look for greater intimacy and confidence in the way they treat Me. Let them seek Me within their own hearts, for they know that a soul in a state of grace is the tabernacle of the Holy Spirit. And there, let them consider Me as I truly am, their God, but a God of love. Let love triumph over fear, and above all let them never forget that I love them. Many are convinced that it was because of this love that they were chosen, but when they are cast down at the sight of their miseries, of their faults even, then they grow sad at the thought that I have changed and love them less than before.”

Here Josefa stopped, for her strength was giving out. She humbly asked leave to sit down, and Jesus, full of compassion, gave her permission. He comforted her, as He alone can, and then disappeared.

At the same hour the following day, Wednesday, December 5th, Jesus rejoined Josefa in her cell. At once she took up her pen, and on her knees before her small table, wrote while He went on:

“I was telling you yesterday how little such souls really know Me. They have not understood My Heart. For it is their very destitution and failings that incline My goodness towards them. And when, acknowledging their helplessness and weakness, they humble themselves and have recourse to Me trustfully, then indeed they give Me more glory than before their fault.

“It is the same when they pray, either for themselves or for others; if they waver and doubt, they do not glorify My Heart, but they do glorify It, if they are sure that I shall give them what they ask, knowing that I refuse them nothing that is good for their souls.

“When the Centurion came to beg Me to cure his servant, he said very humbly: ‘I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof ‘ . . . and, faith and trust prevailing, he added: ‘Say but the word, and my servant shall be healed.’ This man knew My Heart. He knew that I could not resist the prayer of one who trusted Me absolutely. He gave Me much glory, for to humility he joined confidence. Yes, this man knew My Heart, yet I had made no manifestations to him as I have to My chosen ones.

“Hope obtains innumerable graces for self and for others. I want this to be thoroughly understood, so that My Heart’s goodness may be revealed to those poor souls who as yet do not know Me.”

Here the Master interrupted His appeal, and with much emphasis insisted:

“I once again repeat what I have already said, and it is nothing new: As a flame needs to be fed, if it is not to be extinguished, so souls need constant fresh urging to make them advance, and new warmth to renew their fervor.

“Few among the souls that are consecrated to Me possess this unshakable confidence, because there are few that live in intimate union with Me. I want them to know that I love them as they are. I know that through frailty they will fall more than once, I know that they will often break the promises they have made Me. But their will to do better glorifies Me, their humble avowals after their falls, their trust in the forgiveness I will grant, glorify My Heart so much, that I will shed abundant graces on them.

“I want them all to know too how greatly I desire a renewal of their union and intimacy with Me. Let them not be satisfied with merely conversing with Me in church, where doubtless I am truly present, but remember that I abide in them, and delight in this union.

“Let them speak to Me of all their concerns . . . consult Me at every turn . . . ask favors of Me. . . . I live in them to be their life. . . . I abide in them to be their strength. Yes, I repeat, let them remember that I delight in being one with them . . . remember that I am in them . . . and that there I see them, hear them, love them. There I look for a return from them.

“Many are accustomed to a daily meditation; but for how many it becomes a mere formality, instead of a loving interview. . . . They say or assist at Mass and receive Me in Holy Communion, but on leaving the church become once more absorbed in their own interests to such an extent that they scarcely say a word to Me.

“I am in that soul as in a desert, she neither speaks to Me nor asks anything of Me . . . and when in need of comfort, she solicits it from creatures whom she must search out rather than from Me her Creator who abides and lives within her. . . . Is not this want of union, want of interior spirit, in other words, want of love?

“Further, let Me once more tell those who are consecrated to Me how I specially chose them, that they might live in union with Me, to comfort Me and repair for the sins of those who offend Me.

“I want them to remember that it is their duty to study My Heart, in order to share in Its feelings and, as far as is in their power, to realize Its desires.

“When a man works at his own field, how hard he toils at weeding it of all noxious growths, sparing neither trouble nor fatigue till he has attained his object. In like manner, as soon as My chosen ones know My desires, they should labor with zeal and ardor, undeterred by difficulty or suffering, that My glory may be increased and the sins of the world repaired.

“Tomorrow I shall come back on this. Go now in peace.”

Here Josefa’s notes ended that day with a very simple little tale:

“Yesterday,” she wrote, “after a day of great pain of soul and body, I went through such intense agony that I thought I was dying. All the sins of my life came up before my eyes in the most startling way and I was unable to make the smallest act of trust or love.”

She often experienced these feelings of helplessness by which Satan tried to paralyze her and drive her to despair.

“The suffering was so intense that I thought my last hour had come. Suddenly I saw high up in my cell a little white dove whose head was aureoled with light. She was vainly trying to take flight, but one of her wings, still a little grey, seemed to be tied. She remained for a short space like that, then, beating her wings, flew away. . . . I think it must have been the one I had seen once before of which Jesus had said ‘this dove is the picture of your soul.’

“When He came this morning, I told Him how I long to die on the 12th of this month, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Patroness of Mexico, then undergoing dire persecution, and which, like all Our Lady’s titles, was dear to the Society and to Josefa.

and our Holy Mother’s birthday. It is also a Wednesday, so consecrated to my holy Patron Saint Joseph. Jesus answered me so kindly: “And what about that little wing which is still grey? . . .”

Josefa then told Him how afraid she was of offending Him and parting from Him, for the devil’s temptations had reached such a pitch of vindictiveness.

“Look, Josefa,” He answered, “you must be further purified in love. Surrender yourself and desire nothing but to do My Will. You know very well that I love you, what more do you want?”

So this December 5th, like the preceding day, was spent in very great distress of soul and the obscure temptations of the arch-enemy.

Courageous and docile as Josefa was, she did her very best to maintain herself in a spirit of faith and love. These awful hours of dereliction which, as she well knew, were speeding her to her end left her nevertheless in a state of affliction and completely helpless. Obedience remained her one ark of safety, and it was touching to see how she clung to its observances in the minutest particulars.

Thursday, December 6th, found her in the little cell where she had so often waited for the Master. Faithful to the rendezvous, He listened patiently and tenderly to her desires and to the hope she could not hide from Him—that of dying on December 12th under the protection of the three great loves of her religious life.

“ ‘What have you done, Josefa, to merit Heaven?’

“ ‘Nothing, Lord, but Thou hast promised me Thy merits.’

“ ‘Are you not content, then, to live in My Heart?’

“Of course,” wrote Josefa, “but that does not prevent my longing for Heaven; once there, I shall see Him forever, and shall never offend Him any more.”

“Let Me choose the hour.

“And now write for My consecrated souls.”

It was the last time that Josefa would transcribe the burning desires of the Heart of Jesus for them:

“I call them all—My priests, My religious, and My nuns—to live a life of intimate union with Me.

“It is their privilege to know My longings and to share in My joys and sorrows.

“Theirs, to labor at My interests, never sparing themselves trouble or pain.

“Theirs, by prayer and penance, to make reparation for many, many souls.

“Theirs, above all, to become more and more closely united to Me and never to abandon Me, never to leave Me alone! Some do not understand and forget that it is for them to give Me companionship and consolation. . . .

“And finally, it is for them to combine together in a league of love making but one in My Heart, to implore for souls the knowledge of truth, light and pardon. And when they see with deep sorrow the outrages I receive, My chosen souls will offer themselves to make reparation and to labor at My work; let their trust be unhesitating, for I shall not refuse their supplications, and all they ask will be granted them.

“Let them all, then, apply themselves to the study of My Heart and to understand My feelings, striving to live in union with Me, to converse with Me and to consult Me. Let them clothe their actions in My merits, bathe them in My blood, and consecrate their lives to the saving of souls and the extension of My glory.

“Let them not descend to personal reflections which belittle them, but rejoice at seeing themselves clothed with the power of My blood and of My merits. If they rely on self, they will do little or nothing, but if they labor with Me, in My Name and for My glory, they will be powerful.

“Let these consecrated souls revive their desire for reparation, and beg confidently for the advent of the divine King: that is, for My universal Sovereignty.

“Let them have no fear, let them hope in Me, let them trust in Me.

“Let them be burnt up with zeal and charity for sinners . . . praying for them with compassionate hearts and treating them with all gentleness.

“Let the world hear from their lips how great is My kindness, My love and My mercy.

“Armed with prayer, penance, and reliance on Me, never on self, let them go forward to their apostolic labors in the power and goodness of My Heart which is ever with them. . . .

“My Apostles were poor and ignorant men, but rich and wise in the wealth and wisdom of God, and their watchword was: In Thy Name, O Lord, I shall labor and be all-powerful.

“I ask three things of My consecrated souls:

Reparation, that is a life of union with Him who makes Divine Reparation: to work for Him, with Him, in Him, in a spirit of reparation, in close union with His feelings and desires.

Love, that is intimacy with Him who is all Love, and who humbles Himself to ask His creatures not to leave Him alone, but to give Him their love.

Confidence, that is trust in Him who is Goodness and Mercy . . . in Him with whom I live day and night . . . who knows Me and whom I know . . . who loves Me and whom I love . . . in Him who calls His chosen souls in a special way to live with Him, to know His Heart and so to trust Him for everything.”

The last lines of the Message were written. . . . Josefa noted down what her Master wished her to communicate from Him to the Bishop of Poitiers, whom she was expecting shortly, then she laid down her pen. A few instants passed in love’s embrace . . . God’s secret. . . . How solemn was the hour which marked the termination of Our Lord’s Appeal to souls.

It is a never-to-be-forgotten date in the annals of infinite Love. It is a new light thrown, in our time, on the “unfathomable riches of the Heart of Jesus,” it is a turning-point on the road of Redemption. It is the hidden source from which a torrent of mercy will, before long, overwhelm the iniquities of the world.

It is a volcano from which the flame that is to give new life and spirit to the world will issue.

It is the beginning of the dawn, before the sunrise that is to shine on the “great day of the Divine King.”

Jesus had vanished. Josefa closed her notebook and quietly resumed her needlework. Only a few pages would be added to it, for the end was almost in sight.

On Friday, December 7th, Mgr. de Durfort was kind enough to come to receive Our Lord’s last words written down for him by Josefa. Simply and with burning words Josefa spoke to him of her yearning for Heaven and of her approaching death. It was very moving to listen to her, for though her face showed traces of the suffering she was undergoing, her speaking eyes and vehemence gave such animation to her talk that it did not seem likely that the end was really at hand. She was perfectly sure of it, however, and spoke of her coming death to the Bishop with a conviction that her perfect submission to God’s Will made all the more striking.

All was joy on Saturday, December 8th, and Josefa spent her last remnants of strength in helping to prepare for the traditional procession in honor of Our Lady. She put her whole soul into the decoration of the little oratory of the Noviceship for this feast of her Immaculate Mother. She was, however, unable to take part in the procession herself, but hidden in a corner of the infirmary corridor, she watched the long files of children in white, each carrying the lily she was to lay at Our Lady’s feet.

In the afternoon she wrote farewell letters to her mother and sister, moving letters that were to be kept as precious relics, and which at her request were to be sent only after her death. They may fitly find a place here, for they show how tender and supernatural her affection was, transformed and vivified by her love for her Lord.

To her mother she wrote: “I am glad to die, because I know it is the Will of Him whom I love. Then, too, I long to see His face unveiled, and that is impossible here below. Do not be sad on my account, for death is the beginning of life, if we love and wait for His coming. . . . We shall not be parted for very long, for life is so short and we shall be together for all eternity. From Heaven I will take care of you and I shall pray God to give you all you need, and to give you, too, a happy death in the peace of Him who is Our End, our Joy and our God. Do not go into mourning for me, but pray much for me to go to Heaven quickly. I do not know the day of my death, but I hope it will be on 12th of this month. Does Jesus want it then? I want only His Will. Do not think that I am sad. These four years of religious life have been just Heaven to me, and my one desire for my sisters is that they may be as happy as I have been and may know that this lies in doing God’s Will. You must not think either, that I am dying from pain and distress. . . . I think it is just from love. I do not feel ill, but something makes me long for Heaven and I cannot live without Our Lord and Our Blessed Lady. . . .”

To her sister Mercedes,

Mercedes died at the Convent of the Sacred heart, Montpellier, on November 19th, 1942.

who was, like herself, a Sister in the Society of the Sacred Heart, she wrote more intimately: “I am dying in great happiness, and what gives me this joy is the knowledge that I have done God’s Will. It is true that He has led me through paths that were none of my choosing, but now at the end He is rewarding me and I feel only peace. I beg you to serve Our Lord and the Society gladly and fervently in whatever occupation and house, and under whatever Superiors He puts you . . . do not take any notice of your likes and dislikes. Nothing gives such peace at the hour of death as to have denied oneself in order to do the Will of God. Do not let your wretchedness distress you; Our Lord is so good, and loves us as we are. I have experienced this. Have perfect trust in His goodness, love and mercy. I am dying in great happiness. . . . The Society has, indeed, been a true and tender mother to me. Jesus has given me Superiors who have treated me with wonderful consideration and kindness; I cannot repay them here, but I shall obtain all I ask for them from Our Lady when I get to Heaven. I have been very happy in France; it has been the home of my soul, and in it Our Lord has given me innumerable graces. We have always loved each other very much, dear Sister, and now after our separation for awhile, we shall be united again, more intimately and strongly than ever. I shall be waiting for you in Heaven where we shall be united not only as sisters, but as fellow religious. Adieu.”

Though she felt these farewells deeply they did not unman her, and when she had finished writing them, she went confidently to Our Lord, exposed in the Chapel, to offer them to Him, and there spent nearly all the rest of that day.

Then Our Lady was awaiting her to give her a foretaste of the heavenly meeting. Could she have resisted her child’s longings? Josefa thus recorded the vision; they were the last lines in her little notebook.

“This evening, while I was in the Chapel, suddenly Our Blessed Lady came. She was clothed as usual, but surrounded with dazzling light and standing on a crescent of azure blue clouds which were very airy and ethereal. On her head she wore a long pale blue veil, transparent as gossamer, which was lost in the clouds on which her feet rested. She was so lovely that I dared say nothing to her. My soul melted as I gazed on her beauty.

“At last I managed to renew my vows, and she said to me in a voice both sweet and grave: ‘My child, the Church honors me today by contemplating My Immaculate Conception. Men admire in me the wonders wrought by God, and the beauty with which He clothed me even before original sin could stain my soul. He who is the Eternal God chose me for His Mother and overwhelmed my soul with graces greater than any bestowed on a creature. All the beauty you see in me is a reflection of the Divine Perfections, and the praises given me glorify Him who, being my Creator, willed to make me His Mother.

“ ‘My choicest title to glory is that of being Immaculate at the same time as being Mother of God. But my greatest joy is to add to this title that of Mother of Mercy, and Mother of Sinners.’

“When she had said this she vanished, and I have not seen her again.”

Here end Josefa’s notes. In Our Lady’s last statement, she, as it were, signed the divine Message given by her Son. . . . It was an echo of the work of love, from the lips of His Virgin Mother. . . . Her Immaculate Heart as Mother of Mercy and of sinners leads the world to the Sacred Heart of Him who is Love and Mercy.

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