The Way of Divine Love
by Sr. Josefa Menendez

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Copyright © 1950 by Sands, London, UK.

Patricius Morris, S.T.D., L.S.S.
Censor Deputatus

E. Morrogh Bernard, Vic. Gen.
Westmonasterii, die 5a Maii, 1953

Sister Josefa Menendez was Coadjutrix Sister of the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

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In obedience to the decrees of Pope Urban VIII and other sovereign Pontiffs, the writer declares that the graces and other supernatural facts related in this volume as witnessing to the sanctity of Servants of God, other than those canonized or beatified by the Church, rest on human authority alone; and in regard thereto, as in all things else, the writer submits herself without reserve to the infallible judgment of the Apostolic See which alone has power and authority to pronounce as to whom rightly belong the character and title of Saint or Blessed.

Facsimile, reproduced with the Holy Father’s consent, of the letter by which Cardinal Pacelli blessed the first edition of “UN APPEL A L’AMOUR”

Letter from the Cardinal Protector
(Now H.H. Pope Pius XII happily reigning)

April 1938.


I have no doubt whatever that the publication of these pages, filled as they are with the great love which His grace inspired in His very humble servant Maria Josefa Menéndez, will be agreeable to His Sacred Heart.

May they efficaciously contribute to develop in many souls a confidence ever more complete and loving in the infinite mercy of this Divine Heart towards poor sinners such as we all are.

These are the good wishes which, with my blessing, I send you and all the Society of the Sacred Heart.

"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre

This new edition of a translation of Un Appel à L’Amour, is an amplification of the smaller book of the same name which was published in 1938.

On November 13th, shortly before her death, Our Blessed Lord had said to Sister Josefa: “My words will be light and life for an incalculable number of souls, and I will grant them special graces of conversion and illumination.” These words have been verified, for as soon as the first small volume appeared it was eagerly seized upon, was reprinted several times, while letters from all parts of the world gave testimony to the profound impression created and to the signal graces that followed on the delivery of the Message.

Within a few months the book had been translated from the original Spanish into French, then into Portuguese, Italian, English, Chinese, and Hungarian—thus fulfilling Our Lord’s wish that His call to the way of love should be heard as widely as possible.

The Message, providentially timed to appear before the general conflagration of nations in the World War of 1939–1945, did not suffer any interruption by it. In spite of many difficulties, it passed from hand to hand and continued to be widely read. At the same time, pressing requests for a more detailed biography which would make the bearer of Our Lord’s communications better known, were continually being received and have resulted in the present publication.

The Message of Our Blessed Lord, framed as it were, in the life history of Sister Josefa Menéndez, consists mainly in excerpts from her notes. These notes, written under obedience, and carefully preserved, are connected by a running commentary, the testimony of those who day by day assisted at the unfolding of a life which so amazingly carried out the designs of the Heart of Jesus.

In 1926, after careful examination of the writings of Sister Josefa, a Consultor of the Sacred Congregation of Rites concluded his report with these words: “I pray God that these things may become known for the glory of God, and to strengthen the faith of diffident and timid souls, and also that the holy religious of the Sacred Heart who wrote them may be glorified.” (From the Italian.)

Without any intention of pronouncing judgment before Holy Church, to whom we submit unconditionally, we think that readers of these pages will be glad to find words of commendation from no less a personage than the Holy Father himself, who as Cardinal Pacelli, and Protector of the Society of the Sacred Heart at the time, gave his blessing to the first edition which appeared in 1938. A facsimile of his letter is reproduced, with his express consent, at the beginning of this volume.

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On December 29th, 1923, Sister Josefa Menéndez, when thirty-three years old, died a holy death at the Convent of Les Feuillants, Poitiers. She lived as a Sister in the Society of the Sacred Heart only four years, and in so hidden a way that the world ought never to have heard of her, and even in her own community she should soon have been forgotten.

Yet, only twenty years after her death, she is known all over the world. In America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania people are praying to her and are listening attentively to the Message which the Heart of Jesus has given her for men.

In 1938 the substance of the Message, under the title of Un Appel à l’Amour, was published in Toulouse by the Apostleship of Prayer. Cardinal Pacelli, now gloriously reigning as Pope Pius XII, wrote a foreword of recommendation in the form of a letter. Five years later a complete biography was asked for with insistence, since readers were anxious for all the details of a life so rich yet so hidden and in which the very poverty of the human background threw into relief the splendor of Christ’s divine action.

This second and complete edition is the answer to that demand. It is drawn from Sister Josefa’s notes, written day by day, under obedience, its accuracy confirmed by the very exact reminiscences of the witnesses of her life, namely the Superior and Mother Assistant of the Convent of “Les Feuillants,” Poitiers, and her director, Father Boyer, O.P.

The reader will feel a certain curiosity in opening these pages, but their contents will fill him with wonder and admiration, and he will finish the book determined to lead a better life and to love a God who has manifested so intense a love for His creatures.

For every page tells of the wonderful providence of God’s love for man. Holy Scripture represents Him in the Psalms as following the sons of men with ever-watchful care, attentive to their every action and answering their least efforts to pray. Turning with love towards His rebel sons, from the beginning He lets His voice be heard through marvels and through His prophets, until the day when He Himself, taking flesh in the womb of the Virgin, tells men in human language of the love that fills His Heart.

Jesus, the Word Incarnate, has transmitted in all its completeness the Message He Himself received from the Father: “Omnia quaecumque audivi a Patre Meo, nota feci vobis” (John 15:15). There is nothing to add to Our Lord’s words, and at the death of St. John, the last Apostle, the divine revelation was closed and sealed. Later ages could do no more than draw out its meaning. But its riches are unfathomable, and most men are too inattentive and superficial to sound the depths of the Gospel teaching; consequently, just as under the Old Law Prophets were sent by God to revive the faith and hope of His people, so in the New Dispensation Christ has from time to time given certain chosen souls the mission of interpreting His authentic words, and of revealing their depths and hidden meaning.

Long ago, on Easter morning, He charged Saint Mary Magdalen with announcing His glorious Resurrection to the Apostles. In succeeding ages likewise poor and humble women have been chosen out to transmit His most important desires to mankind.

To recall only the chief instances: Through Saint Juliana of Montcornillon He revived devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and obtained the institution of the Feast of Corpus Christi; through Saint Margaret Mary a new stimulus was given to devotion to the Sacred Heart; through Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus He told a world which seemed to have forgotten it the merit and value of spiritual Childhood, and now, He has given a Message to Josefa Menéndez.

The three above mentioned have been canonized by the Church, and so have received, as it were, an official recognition of their mission. Sister Josefa has not had this honor bestowed on her, but while she is not yet called their Sister in glory, she is indeed their Sister in grace, and God has been pleased to seal her testimony. He who treats His creatures with such reverence, “Cum magna reverentia disponisnos” (Wis. 12:18), owed it to Himself to impress a stamp marking His messenger clearly as the bearer of His words.

“His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts,” and that there may be no doubt that the communications come from Him and no other, He chooses weak instruments, humanly speaking unfitted for the task in view; so His strength shines forth in their infirmity.

He did not choose the learned and the great in the world’s eyes to found His Church, Saint Paul expressly tells us, otherwise the rapid spread of Christianity could have been attributed to their talents and prestige . . . but He chose the poor and the ignorant, and of these He made vessels of election.

And that the greatness of their mission might not dazzle them and lead to vainglory, He again and again reminded them of their nothingness, their innate misery and their weakness. His gifts are only secure when bestowed on the truly humble of heart. His Providence has always worked in this way. His glory is manifest in man’s nothingness. “If I had been able to find a creature more miserable than you,” He said to Saint Margaret Mary, “I should have chosen her. . . .”

And Sister Josefa repeatedly heard the same declaration: “If I could have found a more wretched creature, I should have chosen her for my special love, and through her revealed the longings of My Heart. But I have not found one, and so I have chosen you.” (June 7th, 1923).

Soon after we hear Him say: “I have selected you as one utterly useless and destitute, that none may attribute to any but Myself, what I say, ask and do.” (June 12th, 1923).

As far as appearances went, nothing signalized Josefa as in any way fitted for so high a mission. If we remember her repeated delays in entering religion, we might be justified in doubting the constancy of her will; then, too, her humble rank in the community, her status as a mere novice, her great love of retirement, and the very real obstacle of her ignorance of the language of the country, all these hindrances combined would at first sight appear insurmountable.

If one had looked for a chosen soul among the novices of that time (they were for the most part Polish), Josefa’s appearance, which had nothing of the mystic about it, would not have led one to suspect God’s choice of her.

In reality they were tokens of God’s choice. Though but a lowly little novice, so tender-hearted as to be frequently on the point of yielding to her sensitiveness, she would show later an unconquerable strength of will. In the blinding light of divine revelations, she only crept deeper into her littleness, and the closer God drew to her the more she humbled herself. In spite of the evidence of God’s action, she was ever fearful of being deceived herself and of deceiving her Superiors. As a matter of fact, they had rarely met with a more obedient and docile subject, or one more deferential, more eager to submit to control, more ready to sacrifice herself. In her devotions, as in everything else, there was no exaggeration; she was perfectly straightforward and simple. She was mentally healthy and had a well-developed sense of order and proportion. The supernatural, whose weight was often crushing, never disturbed her interior poise, though this equilibrium was kept only at the cost of almost superhuman endurance. All this was in reality the best guarantee to Superiors that her communications were divine in origin.
To Sister Josefa Our Lord said: “You yourself shall be My sign.”

Though at first suspicious and reserved in their judgments, both her Director and her Superiors were forced by the evidence of her life to believe that her mission was divine.

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"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre

Only very gradually did Our Lord unfold it to her; several times He had told her that He meant to make use of her to “carry out His plans” (February 9th, 1921) for the saving of many souls that had cost Him so dear (October 15th, 1920). On the night of February 24th, 1921 He gave her a yet more explicit call during her Holy Hour. “The world does not know the mercy of My Heart,” He said to her. “I intend to enlighten them through you. . . . I want you to be the apostle of My love and mercy. I will teach you what that means; forget yourself.” And in answer to the fears she expressed: “Love and fear nothing. I want what you do not want, but I can do what you cannot.” “It is not for you to choose, you have only to resign yourself into My Hands.”

A few months later, on Monday, June 11th, 1921, a few days after the Feast of the Sacred Heart, when she had received many graces, He said: “Remember My words and believe them. My Heart has but one desire, which is to enclose you in It, to possess you in My love, then to make of your frailty and littleness a channel to convey mercy to many souls who will be saved by your means. Later on, I will reveal to you the burning secrets of My Heart and many souls will profit by them. I want you to write down and keep all I tell you. It will be read when you are in Heaven. Do not think that I make use of you because of your merits, but I want souls to realize how My Power makes use of poor and miserable instruments.” And as Josefa asked if she was to tell Reverend Mother even that, He answered: “Write it; it will be read after your death.”

So by degrees Our Lord unfolded His plan: Josefa was chosen by Him, not only to be a victim for souls, especially for consecrated ones, but that through her Christ’s Message of love and mercy might reach the world. A twofold mission—Victim and Messenger—and between the two missions there is a close connection. If Victim then Messenger, and because Messenger, necessarily Victim.


To be a victim necessarily implies immolation, and as a rule atonement for another. Although strictly speaking one can offer oneself as a victim to give God joy and glory by voluntary sacrifice, yet for the most part God leads souls by that path only when He intends them to act as mediators: they have to suffer and expiate for those for whom their immolation will be profitable, either by drawing down graces of forgiveness on them, or by acting as a cloak to cover their sins in the face of divine justice. It stands to reason that no one will on his own initiative take such a role on himself. Divine consent is required before a soul dares to intervene between God and His creature. There would be no value in such an offering if God refused to hear the prayer.

Already in the Old Testament victims of a certain sort only could be offered to God. To be acceptable they must have special, clearly defined qualities: they were to be spotless, without blemish, males of one year, and above all the offering had to be made by a priest according to a prescribed rite which was to be adhered to rigorously, and which symbolized not only the dispositions of the officiating priest, but also those of the donor of the victim.

In the New Testament a new sacrifice takes the place of the old; Jesus Christ is the sole Mediator, sole Priest, sole Victim, and His sacrifice is no longer symbolic, but real and infinite.

If, then, Jesus Christ wishes to associate other victims with Himself, they must be closely united to Him, and share His feelings, in order to enter fully into His sacrifice; hence they can only be human beings, endowed with intelligence and will.

He Himself chooses these persons, and because they are free He asks them for their voluntary cooperation. Those who accept put themselves at His mercy, and He then makes use of them as by sovereign right.

Assimilated and transformed into Christ, the victim-soul expresses the sentiments of Christ Jesus to God the Father; and to Christ Himself her attitude is one of humiliation, penance, and expiation, sentiments which ought to animate the souls she represents.

And because of this identification with Christ, the victim-soul shares in His dolorous Passion and undergoes, to a greater or lesser degree, and in various but generally superhuman ways, the torments and agonies that were His.

When the suffering is borne for one specially chosen sinner the victim endures the just retribution due to this sinner for his crimes. Every kind of trial is endured, be it illness, or even persecution by the spirits of darkness of which the victim becomes the sport.

With Sister Josefa this was the case to an extraordinary degree. Victim at the express desire of her Lord, not only was her whole being immolated, but the manner of the immolation itself varied according to the particular attributes of God to which she had sacrificed herself.

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus offered herself as a victim of merciful love; Marie des Vallées, as a victim of God’s Justice; Saint Margaret Mary, of both Justice and Mercy, and so it was with Sister Josefa. Christ told her His wishes in even more explicit terms than He had used with Saint Margaret Mary.

“I have chosen you to be a victim of My Heart” (December 19th, 1920). “You are the victim of My love” (October 2nd, 1920 and November 23rd, 1920). “You are the victim of My love and mercy” (June 30th, 1921). “I want you to be the victim of divine justice and the comfort of My Heart” (November 9th, 1920).

For all these reasons Josefa must suffer. “You suffer in your soul and body, because you are the victim of My Soul and Body. How could you not suffer in your heart, since I have chosen you as the victim of My Heart?” (December 19th, 1920).

As victim of the Heart of Jesus she suffered in order to console the Heart that has been so wounded by the ingratitude of men. As victim of love and mercy she suffered that the merciful love of Jesus might overwhelm with graces the sinner He so loved. As victim of the divine justice she carried the intolerable burden of the divine reproaches, and expiated for guilty souls, who would owe their salvation to her. Her mission exacted perpetual immolation on her part, and Our Lord did not hide it from her. “Love, suffer, and obey,” He said to her, “so that I may realize My plans in you” (January 9th, 1921).

On June 12th, 1923 He corroborated the whole of this plan as it affected her. “As for you, you will live in the most complete and profound obscurity, and as you are My chosen victim, you will suffer, and overwhelmed by suffering you will die. Seek neither rest nor alleviation; you will find none, for such is My will. But My love will sustain you, and never shall I fail you.”

But before making her endure such piercing and keen agony, He had asked and obtained her consent; for though He is Sovereign Lord and Master, He nevertheless respects the liberty of the creature.

“Are you willing? . . .” He said to Josefa, and as she shrank at the prospect before her, He left her. She was heartbroken at His departure, but Our Lady came, and suggested to her child: “Do not forget that your love is free.” Several times Josefa tried to escape from the path before her, then Jesus left her, and it was only after she had called Him again and again that He came back to receive from her a willing offering of that which He had suggested only as a possibility. Usually she accepted most generously.

Nothing was imposed on her by God; He did not force His reluctant creature, but with divinely consummate skill He pursued His purpose of obtaining her consent. At each recoil of Josefa’s fears, Our Lord left her without reproach; but His departure so disturbed Josefa that she made a more than ever generous acceptance. Also, Jesus did not tell her straight away that He wanted her to be His Messenger to the world, the shock would have been too great; but He simply appealed to her generosity: “Are you willing to suffer? And are you willing to be a victim?” If a victim, then it was a question of suffering, not of coming prominently before the world, and Josefa accepted.

“I offered myself to serve Him in any way He might choose.” God knew Himself free to act in any way He chose, and He said once again: “I am your God, you belong to Me; of your own free will, you have handed yourself over. From now on you cannot refuse Me anything” (July 23rd, 1922). “If you do not deliver yourself up to My will, what can I do?” (April 21st, 1922).

She surrendered; like her Master she would be a willing victim: “Oblatus est quia Ipse voluit.” Like Him, too, she would be a pure victim. For how can one expiate another’s sins, when one has to expiate one’s own? From her birth God had enveloped her in purity, for there cannot be found in her life any fault to which she voluntarily consented. Her greatest infidelities, as she herself owned, were a certain reluctance to respond to the call of grace and indecision in the face of a disconcerting mission; nothing therefore that was a stain on her heart and soul. Jealously Our Lord guarded her: “I want you to forget yourself so entirely and to be so completely given up to My Will that I will not tolerate the slightest imperfection in you without warning you of it” (February 21st, 1921).

Many times when He wanted her to re-state that she was His victim He opened the question by conferring on her a grace of still greater purification. “I want you to suffer for Me, Josefa, but I will begin by letting the arrow of love which is to purify your soul fall on you, for as My victim, you must be all-pure” (June 17th, 1923).

In her pure conscience on which suffering was about to descend there was found no taint of sin, and consequently there was no work of expiation to be done, and that was why the fruits of salvation could be transferred to other souls. Her sufferings bore a twofold character, as is indeed the case with all true victims. As a victim chosen by Christ Himself to continue and complete His redemptive work, she must be very closely united with Christ the Redeemer, and share His Passion by enduring the self-same sufferings as His own; as an expiatory victim for the sins of others, her pains would be proportionate to the sins of the offender for whom she was atoning.

(a) Participation in the Sufferings of Christ

The Passion of Christ being our sole salvation, if we are to be purified and saved, we must of necessity come into contact with the Blood shed by the Lamb. The great cry of the dying Christ is a pressing invitation to the whole human race to hasten to the Saviour’s fountains from which all graces flow.

This contact with Christ’s Blood is immediately secured by souls that answer His appeal. Others, and alas! they are many, voluntarily keep aloof. It is these that Christ will seek to reach through other souls whom He makes use of as channels of His mercies. They are the most fruitful of all the branches of the mystic vine. Loaded with the sap flowing from Christ Himself, and completely one with Him, by their solidarity with the sinner they stand liable for his sins; so being one with him and one with Christ, in them and by them, grace is communicated. They are victim-souls.

How intimate must be their identification with the Crucified if they are to carry out their part of the contract fully! Full union with Him is implied, whilst He on His part imprints on their souls, hearts, and bodies the living image of His sorrowful Passion.

All His sufferings are renewed in them: they will be contradicted, persecuted, humbled, scourged, and crucified; and what man fails to inflict, that God Himself will supply by mysterious pains, agonies, stigmata, which will make of them living crucifixes.

How great must be the power of mediation of such souls! How efficacious their intercession, when they implore divine mercy, pardon and salvation for their brethren; when in them and through them, the Precious Blood of Christ, infinitely more powerful than that of Abel, cries to the Father!

There is this, however, to notice with regard to some saints, notably Saint Francis of Assisi, that the Passion, as it were, abides in them, God’s ultimate plan apparently being to shape them into finished copies of the Crucified. It is God’s response to their adoring love of His Passion, and He makes them share both physically and morally in the torments of His Beloved Son.

There is a further purpose with regard to expiatory victims: He seems to dispossess them in favor of other souls, for the Passion of Christ, after marking them with its sign, passes through them, in order to bring about in the sinner for whom they suffer the graces of the sacrifice of Calvary.

They are thus co-redeemers in the full sense of the word; love for their neighbor urges them on, their mission is different from that of others. For whereas God is pleased to allow those other souls of whom we spoke to remain in contemplation of Him, giving glory to His infinite perfections by their love, it is otherwise with victim-souls: when they contemplate Him, He unveils the immensity of His love for souls and the grief with which the loss of sinners fills Him. The sight of this breaks their hearts, and their longing to console Christ is not satisfied with mere words of love; it stirs up their zeal. At whatever price, they will win souls to Him, and He kindles this zeal still more. It is the love of the Sacred Heart Itself, communicated to them, with which they love sinners; love which gives them a superhuman endurance well described by Josefa’s own words:

“For the last two or three weeks, I have felt an immense desire for suffering. There was a time when the thought of it frightened me. When Jesus told me that He had chosen me as His victim my whole being trembled; but it is different now. There are days when I endure such agony that if He did not uphold me, I should die, for no part of me is free from pain! . . . In spite of this, my soul longs to bear more grievous afflictions for Him, though not without repugnance in the lower part of my consciousness. When these pains attack me I shake with fear and instinctively draw back, but there is granted to my will a strength that accepts, that desires and wants to suffer yet more, so that if the choice between continued pain and Heaven were offered me, I should infinitely prefer to remain in the throes of pain, if by so doing I might console His Heart, though God knows how I long to be forever with Him. I know that this change has been wrought in me by Jesus” (June 30th, 1921).

She was right indeed; the change had come not from herself, but from Jesus, or rather may we not say that it was His strength, His feelings, His desires and sufferings that He had passed on to her?

“My Heart finds rest in communicating its feelings. I come to rest in your heart when a soul grieves Me, and it is My longing to do it good that passes into you and becomes yours” (October 23rd, 1922).

“As you are ready to suffer, let us suffer together” (December 19th, 1920), and He gave her His Cross: “Jesus came with His Cross, which He placed on my shoulders” (July 18th, 1920). “I come to bring you My Cross, thus unburdening Myself on you” (July 26th, 1921). “I want you to be My Cyrenean; you will help Me to bear My Cross” (February 23rd, 1922). “Let My Cross be your Cross” (March 30th, 1923).

Innumerable are the times He placed it on her willing shoulders for hours on end, even for whole days and nights. He entrusted her with His Crown of Thorns, which He left in her keeping for long periods, so that like Him she knew not where to rest her aching head. “I will leave you My Crown . . . do not complain of the pain . . . for by it you share in My pain” (November 26th, 1920). “My Crown . . . with it I will Myself encircle your head” (June 17th, 1923). He made her feel the pain of His pierced Side. Our Lady said to her: “This pain is a spark from the Heart of My Son; when it is at its worst, know that it is a sign that some soul is wounding Him deeply” (June 20th, 1921).

He wished her to feel the pain of the nails in both hands and feet: “I am about to give you a new sign of My love. Today you will share with Me the pain of the nails” (March 16th, 1923).

Again He associated her intimately with the agony of His Heart and Soul: “Every Friday, and especially on the First Friday of the month, I will cause you to share in the bitterness of My Heart’s agony, and you will experience the torments of My Passion in a very particular manner” (February 4th, 1921).

On March 1st, 1922, He appeared to her, His Face all bloodstained. “Draw near,” He said, “come and rest in My Heart; and take part in Its grievous pain.”

“He then drew me close to His Heart, and my soul was filled with such anguish and bitterness of sorrow that I cannot describe it.”

Like Him, she suffered for others: “I want your whole being to suffer, that you may gain souls” (December 21st, 1920). “There is a soul that is grievously wounding Me . . . be not afraid if you feel yourself totally abandoned, for I shall make you share the anguish of My Heart” (September 13th, 1921). “Keep My Cross, until that soul recognizes the truth” (March 24th, 1923). “Take My Cross, My Nails and Crown. I go in search of souls” (June 17th, 1923).

These few examples will suffice; they abound throughout the book. As an atoning victim, Josefa shared in all the torments of Jesus, and her whole person, so to speak, was saturated with unutterable anguish. United with Jesus on the Cross, she was tortured by His sufferings, consumed by His desires; His burning thirst for the salvation of souls urged her to attempt every kind of reparation and expiation within her power.

(b) Diabolical Persecutions

And God allowed trials of every kind to rain down upon her. If illness was not one of them (yet who knows, for she never complained), nor persecution from men (for unlike a Margaret Mary, both her religious and family life appear to have been exempt from these), yet on the other hand, more than many another, she was given over to the fury of Satan. And this is not surprising.

There are few saints in whose lives his rage is not apparent. Christ in the glory of Heaven is beyond the reach of Satan, who as His personal enemy spares no pains to thwart the spread of God’s kingdom on earth. The more he knows a soul to be beloved of Christ, the fiercer are his attacks; this, no doubt, in the hope of increasing the number of his unfortunate dupes, but above all, in the perverse hope of snatching from Christ the souls He loves and for whom He has paid so high a price in the shedding of His Precious Blood. Satan, therefore, chooses saints and consecrated souls whom he longs to besmirch, seduce, and dishonor, and flings himself on them. Above all, he abhors victim-souls, so Josefa was particularly hateful to him.

She had joyfully made the sacrifice of the three things she held dearest in the world: her mother, her sister, and her country; she had offered herself for the salvation of sinners, and was, in the event, to snatch a great number from hell-fire. Satan therefore made wanton sport of her. He is permitted by God to have a greater power over victim-souls. Surely this follows from their vocation,

See especially the diabolical persecutions endured by Saint Margaret of Cortona, Saint Veronica Giuliani, the Curé d’Ars, and Sister Marie de Jésus-Crucifié, whose life has been written by V.R.F. Buzy, Superior General of the Fathers of Bétharram, and many others.

for as they take on themselves the sins of others, they also assume the consequences which they know will follow. When a man consents to sin, whether he is conscious of it or not, he gives the devil great power over him, the power of seduction and possession. This is not very noticeable, as a rule, for the evil one excels in dissimulation and avoids disturbing those he believes he has in his net. He strengthens what is evil in his prey, multiplies occasions of sin and benumbs the soul, till it sinks into a state of torpor which is absolutely fatal.
When, however, the devil is met by the resolute resistance of the victim-soul who has taken the place of the sinner, unable to make her sin he takes fearful vengeance, using the very powers he has gained over the evildoer in order to torment his substitute.

And this is permitted by God to manifest to all the reality of both the devil and Hell which so many try to forget and to bury in silence and oblivion.

The devil is a reality, and in his dealings with God’s saints he shows himself in the undisguised perversity of his vicious and corrupt nature. What must his cruelty be to those souls that are damned and are his forever, if he is so pitiless with those over whom, after all, he has but limited sway? Who would dare affirm that such a lesson is without its use, especially in our days?

God also confounds the pride of the spirit of darkness, who in spite of all his power and rage makes no headway, but meets with constant defeat, which greatly enhances God’s glory.

So it was with Sister Josefa.

The devil tried by every possible means to delude and beguile her, disguising himself as an “angel of light,” even going so far as to assume the very features of Jesus Christ Himself. Most often however, he tried to turn her from her chosen path by inflicting on her grievous bodily harm.

When Satan, in all his strength, and a frail human being meet in mortal combat, God interposes His power in the conflict and invests the soul with superhuman endurance. He bestows on it unconquerable energy and makes it overcome all temptations and every suffering. The devil’s power broke on the frailty of Josefa’s resistance, who (though “nothing and misery,” as Our Lord called her) with divine help triumphed over the “strong man armed.” But God alone knew what it cost her.

Even as a postulant, showers of blows, administered by an invisible fist, fell upon her day and night, especially when she was in prayer and reiterating her determination always to be faithful. At other times she was violently snatched away from the chapel, or prevented from entering it. Again and again the devil appeared to her in the guise of a terrifying dog, snake, or worse still, in human form.

Soon the forcible abductions became more frequent, in spite of the supervision exercised by Superiors. Under their very eyes she suddenly disappeared, and after long search would be found thrown into some loft, or beneath heavy furniture, or in some unfrequented spot. In their presence she was burnt, and without seeing the devil, they saw her clothes consumed and on her body unmistakable traces of fire, which caused wounds that took long to heal.

Lastly, there occurred a phenomenon

A number of both men and women saints have had visions of Hell; few have actually gone down into its depths, and fewer still have done so frequently, as did Sister Josefa in order to atone for sinners. Saint Veronica Giuliani, born 1660 and died 1727, thus a contemporary of Saint Margaret Mary, seems, like Sister Josefa, to have been a victim of expiation, and had this same experience.

very rare in the lives of the Saints: God permitted the devil to take her down to Hell. There she spent long hours, sometimes a whole night, in unspeakable agony. Though she was dragged down into the bottomless pit more than a hundred times, each sojourn seemed to her to be the first, and appeared to last countless ages. She endured all the tortures of Hell, with the one exception of hatred of God. Not the least of these torments was to hear the sterile confessions of the damned, their cries of hatred, of pain and of despair.
Nevertheless, when at long last she came back to life, shattered and spent, her body agonized with pain, she looked on no suffering, however severe, as too much to bear, if by it she could save a soul from that dreaded abode of torment. As gradually she began to breathe more freely, her heart bounded with joy at the thought that still she could love her Lord.

It was this great love that sustained her, but at times the trial weighed heavily on her. Like Jesus in the Garden of Olives, she spent long hours in anguish and dejection. She realized the vast number of the lost, and was often perplexed as to the use of her descents into Hell and all the tortures that she had endured. But quickly she regained her hold on herself, and her amazing courage did not falter. Then, too, Our Lady helped her: “While you suffer, the devil has less power over that soul” (July 22nd, 1921). “You suffer to relieve Him; is this not enough to give you courage?” (July 12th, 1921).

Then Our Lord showed her the treasures of reparation and expiation she had gained by her repeated ordeals (October 6th, 1922 and November 5th, 1922), and allowed her to witness in Hell the devil’s bursts of fury, when there escaped him souls of whom he thought he had a firm hold, but for whom she was offering expiation. The thought that she could console and rest Our Lord and gain souls for Him kept up her heroic spirit and excited her zeal.

Although she instinctively shrank from contact with the devil, for his power and vindictiveness were well known to her by personal experience, yet never did she allow this fear to make her neglect a duty. At one time he carried her off almost daily as she went to her employment; she knew this would happen and the thought of it made her tremble with apprehension, but undaunted she went forward, and on the morrow was still as determined as ever that she would not yield to terror.

In all her heroic fidelity, perhaps the most admirable feature was her conviction that, owing to her fear and occasional repugnances, she was (and this she sincerely believed) ungrateful and unfaithful, and had done absolutely nothing for God.

After nights of unspeakable torment, crushed, yet ever gallant, she rose at the hour of Rule and resumed her ordinary labors, asking no exceptions from common life. She burnt, indeed, with the very fire of the Heart of Jesus, for after all the agonies of Hell and her share in Christ’s sufferings, she was neither discouraged nor cast down, but her readiness to suffer only increased.

Like Saint Margaret Mary, she offered herself in sacrifice for religious souls, for priests, for sinners of every description. Docile and abandoned to the divine Will, she asked but one thing, to be able to console Him. She was ready to suffer a thousand martyrdoms to help those who for the most part were utterly unknown to her, but whom she loved in and through Him.

As we pointed out in the beginning, she had to be a victim in order that the Message might be delivered and be listened to by mankind for whom she endured so much.

She who knew the Heart of Jesus and His love for souls, was better qualified than any other to transmit this Message to the world.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre

It is one of love and mercy. Nowhere is it fully stated, but it is found in fragmentary form all through the book. Its chief points were often reiterated, and with little verbal change.

Here is a short summary of them:

(a) In the first place, the Sacred Heart and the overwhelming charity of Jesus Christ for mankind are brought out in a striking way. It might almost be called a new revelation of the Sacred Heart, confirming and in certain matters completing and perfecting that previously given to Saint Margaret Mary.

More than two centuries and a half have elapsed since 1675, and new currents of devotion have arisen in the Church. At present, the mystical Christ is passionately (and very rightly) cherished by those souls who in their inmost being are conscious of Its reality and Its implications.

The devotion to the Sacred Heart would appear to have grown less, if anything, and to be less well understood;

In his recent encyclical on the Mystical Body of Christ (June 1943) Pope Pius XII tells us that devotion to the Sacred Heart has prepared souls to understand the doctrine of the Mystical Christ. The idea of reparation for others which Our Lord made an essential element in devotion to the Sacred Heart, implies the solidarity of all Christians—one with another—in the unity of the Mystical Body. But devotion to the Mystical Christ, the “whole” Christ, with its horizons attractive through their very vastness, inclines the superficially minded to find too limited a devotion, centered in the Heart of Christ. This mistake is due to a lack of understanding that devotion to the Sacred Heart is directed to Christ loving, wounded with love, and that by it all the members of the Mystical Body are united in this love with Him and with each other.

To some the devotion appears a mutilation of the worship of the whole Christ, or perhaps feminine with too much sentiment or even sentimentality in it.

Our Lord reacts strongly against this false impression. He reaffirms that there is no mistake, that it is indeed His Heart of flesh, pierced by the lance that He offers mankind; His Heart so full of love and so little loved in return, and of which the gaping Wound cries out how immense is His tender affection for men.

Like all true love, His is consumed by desire for a return in kind, all the more, that only so can man attain happiness here below, and everlasting beatitude hereafter. Let those who reject His love realize the horror of Hell to which they will be condemning themselves. . . . This was the appeal that, through Josefa, Jesus Christ sent out to the whole world.

(b) That men may be attracted (and herein lie the novelty and force of the Message) . . . the Sacred Heart manifests through her His infinite mercy. He loves them every one, just as they are, even the most despicable, even the greatest sinners, one can almost say, especially the most miserable and sinful. He does not ask for their good qualities or virtues, but only for their wretchedness and sins. Far from being an obstacle, their very faults are thus an encouragement to draw near Him.

Such is the gift God asks of His beloved sinners, on the one condition of a true repentance, and a readiness to turn away from their evil ways out of love for Him.

His Heart is there waiting for His erring sons with all the impatience of true love. He assures them beforehand of a free pardon. “It is not sin that most grievously wounds My Heart,” He said, “but what rends and lacerates It is that after sin men do not take refuge in It once more” (August 29th, 1922).

What He wants and ardently desires is their trust in His infinite goodness and mercy.

© To consecrated and therefore specially loved souls, Jesus offers a share of His redemptive life. He would like them to act as intermediaries for the saving of souls, and that is why He asks of all the spirit of sacrifice in love. As a rule, no great sufferings are to be borne, but He inculcates the importance of ordinary actions however insignificant, if done in union with Him, in a spirit of sacrifice and love (November 30th, 1922 and December 2nd, 1922). He lays stress on the value of the tiniest offerings, which not only can lead them far on in sanctity, but will effect the salvation of many souls (October 20th, 1922). On the other hand, He reminds them of the danger of slackening in their efforts in little ways, which may lead to greater infidelity and finally expose them to hell-fire, where their sufferings will greatly exceed those of less-favored souls (August 3rd, 1921; December 12th, 1922; March 14th, 15th, 20th, 24th, 1923; September 4th, 1922).

Let consecrated souls therefore re-animate their trust in the Heart of Jesus. “I easily condone their weakness; what I want them to know is that if after their faults and falls they humbly cast themselves into My Heart, I love them always, and pardon them all.” He adds: “Do you not know that the more wretched a soul is, the more I love her?” “The fact that I have chosen a soul does not mean that her faults and miseries are wiped out. But if in all humility that soul acknowledges her failings and atones by little acts of generosity and love, above all, if she trusts Me, if she throws herself into My Heart, she gives Me more glory and does more good to souls than if she had not fallen. What does her wretchedness matter to Me, if she gives Me the love that I want?” (October 20th, 1922).

So what the Heart of Jesus demands of His own is humility, trust, and love.

(d) Finally, He repeatedly offers to all the thought of His Passion, for it is the sign of His immense love for mankind and the sole hope of salvation.

His sad and suffering Heart is again and again presented to us; He exhorts and entreats us in virtue of His immeasurable pains to return to Him. How great must have been the love that could bear such agony for us, and at the same time how terrible is the misfortune of those who through their own fault let such a Redemption pass them by! Man has put his sin between himself and God—a chasm impossible to bridge—yet our Jesus comes with His suffering Passion, and oversteps our sinfulness, even veils our crimes with His Blood. The road to salvation is once more opened, but it must and can only be through the Passion. This is the only way to establish contact with God again. The choice lies between the Passion and Hell!

So the work of consecrated souls is to enter into the Passion of Christ and, by personal sacrifices, to pass on its fruits to other souls for whom they pray and immolate themselves.

✠ ✠ ✠


How striking is its actuality today!

Everywhere sin is increasing to an appalling degree. The pride of man leads him to discard his God and attempt to make a paradise of earth. He has so far succeeded only in making it a vestibule of Hell, where impiety, immorality, and the worst passions have free scope; wars rage that are more terrible than any yet heard of, the majority of mankind suffers poverty and slavery, and all without the comfort which faith alone can impart.

The Heart of God inclines in pity towards His forlorn children, and He points out to them the way of happiness, peace, and salvation.

This Message is not only transmitted by Josefa, but reproduced in her life through Christ’s operations in her soul, for facts are more calculated to move than are mere words.

If anyone wants to realize the love of the Heart of Jesus for souls, let him read the pages in which Josefa notes down how she listens to the Heartbeats of her Master. “Every heartbeat is an appeal to a soul,” He told her (September 25th, 1920).

Surely we cannot doubt the reality of His love, when the flames issuing from His Heart are seen to kindle Josefa’s with a love so valiant and intrepid that she braves the sufferings of hell-fire to save the souls He loves. Nor can we doubt the immensity of His love, when for the same purpose she accepts unutterable tortures, and she who knew tells us that her love, “her poor love,” is as nothing beside that of her Master, just as the torments she undergoes are but a shadow of those of the Passion (October 28th, 1920). The grief of Jesus at the loss of souls and His joy at their return, which are so plainly shown in Josefa’s life, make it impossible for us to doubt the goodness of His love! (August 25th, 1920; December 26th, 1920; August 3rd–4th, 1921; July 29th, 1921; September 3rd, 12th, 25th, 1922). “Help Me,” He would say, “help Me to make My love for men known, for I come to tell them that in vain will they seek happiness apart from Me, for they will not find it. Suffer, Josefa, and love, for we two must win these souls” (June 13th, 1923).

We get an inkling of the intense love of the Sacred Heart from that of Josefa for these same souls; it was so real and true that it could have been inspired only by Him.

Infinite Mercy, too, is manifested by Josefa’s life. “I will love you,” He told her on June 8th, 1923, Feast of the Sacred Heart, “and by the love I have for you souls will realize how much I love them.” “Since I forgive you so often, they will recognize My mercy.” He even said to her one day: “I love souls even to folly” (September 27th, 1922).

Such a statement surprises us, yet in Scripture do we not read (and Scripture is inerrant): “Can a woman forget her infant, so as not to have pity on the son of her womb? and if she should forget, yet will not I. Behold, I have graven thee in my hands” (Isa. 49:15, 16). “He will put away our iniquities and he will cast all our sins into the bottom of the sea” (Mich. 7:19). “Thou hast delivered my soul that it should not perish, thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back” (Isa. 38:17). “He loved me and delivered himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

We may well call these statements divine folly!

As to the reality of Hell, again we see the Message lived by Josefa. The sufferings of the Passion which continue uninterruptedly in her, all the demoniacal persecutions and descents into Hell have only one end: to snatch souls from perdition and bring them back to salvation from which they have strayed. We see here exemplified the dogma of the Redemption and of the communion of saints. How, then, would it be possible to deny on the one hand the existence of the devil, of Hell and of Purgatory, and on the other the adequate power of Redemption which suffering has when borne for others? These great supernatural realities we read in the moving pages in which Josefa has them graven in her very flesh and soul.

The Message itself cannot be called a new revelation, but it unveils in a most striking manner what faith has already taught us. Our Lord Himself told this to Josefa: “I repeat to you again that what I have said is not new, but souls need a new impetus to make them advance, just as a flame needs fuel, if it is not to burn itself out.”

How great is the force of the appeal which the humble little Sister transmits to us from her Lord!

✠ ✠ ✠


We have been enabled to realize how the Message consists not only in the words entrusted to Josefa, but in her whole life. By her very existence, this soul, so beloved of Jesus, speaks to all who will listen, and her life stands as evidence of the divine action upon her.

She alone heard the words of Our Lord, and so is the sole witness; but her life testifies to the truth of the Message, and, moreover, she was closely followed up by qualified observers, who testify to the undeniable virtue of the obscure little messenger of infinite love, and to the reality of her supernatural states, of which tangible proofs were not wanting. All who had to do with her attested her very real virtue; not that she shone in a striking manner, for she was ever more imitable than admirable, but all felt the unconscious influence she exercised around her. No self-seeking, but rather self-denial in everything, unquestioning obedience, gentleness, and patience: all the result of true humility.

“You are the echo of My voice,” said Our Lord to her (December 10th, 1922), and, in fact, everything in her was an echo of the divine. Her unaffected virtue led one to a conviction that God was acting on this soul, and this by itself could have provided clear evidence that her supernatural communications came from God. Nevertheless, Superiors and her Director remained for a certain length of time deliberately hesitant and uncertain, and they deserve our thanks for their reserve and wary misgivings, which insisted on proofs.

With her innate candor and honesty, she could never have practiced willful deception. Perhaps one is justified in asking whether she was led astray by her heart or imagination—a not infrequent trait in persons of sincere holiness. But (and this is a good sign) Josefa lived in perpetual fear that such might be the case, and was quite prepared, had Superiors deemed her to be in illusion, to consider all that had taken place as delusion. Such action was characteristic of her.

When she went to Rome to carry a message from Our Lord about the Society of the Sacred Heart to the Mother General, she was suddenly seized with a blinding fear (at the devil’s instigation) that all was a dream and that she had no message from Heaven to deliver. Without hesitation or reflection on the harm it might do her cause in the eyes of her Superiors, she confessed her anguish of mind, and the certitude she now felt that all was a chimera of her imagination, and she humbly begged that no credence should be given to anything she might say. That she should have had this anxious concern at such a moment is another proof of the truth of her mission.

She could not have acted so had she not been profoundly humble and self-forgetful; her writings bear the same impress of sincerity.

It was by the express command of Our Lord and of Our Lady that she kept her Superiors informed of all that passed: “You must write,” said Our Blessed Lord to her. This, no doubt, was meant to secure that none of His words should be lost (August 6th, 1922), but also His divine purpose may have been that all Josefa’s actions should be controlled and witnessed from start to finish. In all she wrote there never occurs a useless word, nor anything false or equivocal; nothing that could be regarded as self-praise nor that betrays a shadow of vanity. All is true, reasonable, moving, and holy.

The same control was exercised over her supernatural states. When she was carried off into Hell, or when she returned to consciousness after an ecstasy, her Superiors were present; they watched with solicitous and maternal eyes her gradual return to life’s interests, noting carefully words that escaped her in those impressive moments.

When she had communications with souls in Purgatory who came to ask her prayers, the name, exact date, and place of their death, if given, were always found on investigation to be correct.

No possible doubt exists concerning the forcible abductions of Josefa by the devil; they took place under the very eyes of her Superiors, who were powerless to prevent them. Likewise the effects of fire which burned her were seen on her garments and flesh; fragments of scorched linen are still preserved.

The most convincing feature of these diabolic visitations (visions of Satan, descents into Hell), which to most people would have been terrifying, was that they seemed neither to have troubled her imagination, nor to have disturbed the calm equilibrium of her eminently sane temperament. So also the divinely supernatural, with those simple and homely proofs of affection she received from Our Lord and His Mother,

Delightful apparitions of the Holy Child at Christmas … of Our Lady, “in all her beauty and so motherly,” as Josefa always describes her.

must surely have moved her feelings to an extraordinary degree, yet they left her peaceful, silent, and apparently without even the natural desire to talk over her wonderful experience with anyone. The Mothers noticed how very discreet she was, never speaking of the favors she received, except to the two witnesses already mentioned. Finally, all the sufferings (nights spent in Hell, or in bearing the Cross, or in wearing the Crown of Thorns) which might have made her beg for relief, only gave her a greater desire to suffer for love of Our Lord and of souls.

So her writings and her life confirm each other as evidence that all that took place in her was divine in origin. Even the most extraordinary happenings have an aim and significance. There are no useless details, no record of revelations that do not bring out in clearer light and force some dogmatic truth, giving us deeper insight into the Heart of Our Lord, His love, the value of souls, the happiness of Heaven, the irreparable loss of the damned.

Everything in Josefa’s life is grace-giving and profoundly moving. The writings of this unassuming Sister, regarded as ignorant in the world’s eyes, will, no doubt, be scrutinized and pondered over by theologians and masters of the spiritual life, and as in the case of Saint Thérèse of the Child of Jesus, numerous books will be written to develop the profound doctrine contained in these writings, and to make known the mysteries of love. But better still, the mere reading will bring numberless graces and lead many to conversion and holiness. The world may be astonished at the great things that come from a life so simple; but it is precisely in her nothingness that the overwhelming proof of the authenticity of her Message lies.

In very truth it was countersigned by a Hand that was nothing less than divine.

Digitus Dei est hic
(Signed) H. Monier Vinard S.J.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre


Part I. A SOUL’S AWAKENING 1890–1907

I want you to be all Mine.” (Our Lord to Josefa, March 17th, 1901)

SPAIN gave Our Lord the soul He was to consecrate to His Love, though it was in France that He revealed Himself to her.

Josefa Menéndez, a native of Madrid, was born on the 4th of February 1890, and was baptized in the church of San Lorenzo on the 9th of the same month, being given the names of Josefa Maria.

Her father, Leonardo Menéndez, also a native of the same capital, had had a sad youth, for his father died when he was very young, and his mother marrying again, the unwanted boy was sent to school. When only seventeen years of age he lost the mother, whom he dearly loved, and to drown this sorrow and his loneliness, he enlisted in the army. His superior officer was not long in appreciating his marked artistic talents, and he was appointed decorator of the Artillery Museum, where he did so well that ever after he was in constant demand whenever military decorations had to be designed, either in the local cathedral of St. Isidore or at the Royal Palace.

In 1888 he married Lucia del Moral, a devout and conscientious girl who made him an excellent wife and devoted herself to the upbringing of their little family of four girls and two boys, though both the latter died as infants, leaving as the eldest of the family Josefa, who took her responsibilities very seriously.

The father, being energetic and intelligent, was able to provide them with a comfortable home, and the atmosphere of Josefa’s childhood was joyous and carefree, and her childish piety developed early. She was only five when she was confirmed and the Holy Spirit took possession of a singularly docile and innocent mind which later on was to be so choice an instrument in God’s Hands.

The little girl’s confessor, R. F. Rubio, was a great enthusiast for devotion to the Sacred Heart, and he later entered the Society of Jesus. He cultivated her aptitude for prayer, for he was struck by the spirituality of his little penitent. He remained her confessor until her entrance into our Society. At seven she made her first Confession; in later years she used ingenuously to recall the date, a First Friday in October 1897, exclaiming regretfully: “If only I could now feel such contrition for my sins as I had on that day.”

Father Rubio gave her spiritual training suited to her age; he taught her how to meditate and use ejaculatory prayer, and Josefa gradually acquired the habit of constant awareness of the divine Presence. When she was able to read, she delighted in El Cuarto de Hora de Santa Teresa, a simple little meditation book which her confessor gave her, and she learned how, after reading a passage slowly, to reflect on it and end with a resolution. She was extraordinarily faithful to the habits thus early acquired.

“I delighted in my little book,” she said later, “especially when it spoke to me of the Child Jesus or of the Passion. I found plenty to say to Our Lord and already I planned to devote my life to Him who possessed all my love.”

Josefa was by nature both serious and vivacious. She freely asserted her authority over her three little sisters, and often the harassed mother would proudly trust her eldest to replace her. She was no less her father’s pet; he dubbed her his “little empress” and could refuse her nothing . . . a fact well known and exploited by the younger ones, who always had recourse to her intercession when some favor was hoped for. Every Sunday the whole family went to High Mass, and the father never failed to give each child a few coppers, to teach them generosity in almsgiving; they were known and loved by all the poor of the neighborhood. If the weather was fine, the Sunday afternoons were spent in country walks; if cloudy and wet, they all stayed at home, and father and children enjoyed themselves together till it was time to say the Rosary in common.

Leonardo taught his eldest little daughter himself, and so elated was he with her progress that he fondly hoped to have her trained for the teaching profession. This, however, was not to be, as we shall see; Our Lord had His own and very special designs for her future.

When she was eleven years old the all-important preparation for First Communion began. The very idea of it was an enthralling delight to the thoughtful and spiritual-minded child, who began to attend the instructions given at the Reparatrice Convent. The great day was preceded by a short retreat, and we still possess the “notes” of what she afterwards called the first appeal made to her by the Lover of her soul.

“In my first meditation I reflected on the words ‘Jesus wants to give Himself to me, that I may be wholly His.’ What joy! I thought, He is the one object of my desires. Yet how is it to be done? I consulted one of the nuns, and she explained to me that I must be very, very good, and that thus I should always belong entirely to Our Lord.

“The subject of meditation on the second day was ‘Jesus, Spouse of Virgins, takes delight in the pure and innocent.’ This was a great light to me, the solution of yesterday’s puzzle; of course I must become His little Spouse, then indeed I should belong entirely to Him, just as Mummy belonged to Daddy. So there and then I promised Our Lord ever to remain a virgin (I did not understand what it meant) that I might always be entirely His. All day long I renewed this promise, and in the evening during Benediction I made a consecration of myself to the Child Jesus, asking with great fervor that I might be wholly and entirely His. That I was soon to receive Him in my heart by Holy Communion filled me with a strange joy, and while I was silently reveling in the happy thought, I heard a voice, that I can never forget, saying to me: ‘Yes, little one, I want you to be all Mine.’ What happened then it is impossible for me to put into words, but when I left the chapel my mind was quite made up: I would be very, very good.

“Of vocation I had never heard, and I thought nuns were unearthly beings quite apart, but from that time onward something seemed to set me, too, apart, and this feeling remained. It was only long afterwards that I knew it had been a vocation to religious life.

“On the third day of the retreat I renewed my resolution, and on St. Joseph’s day, the happy day of my First Communion, I made this offering, and it came from my very inmost being:

Quote:“ ‘On this day, March 19th, 1901, before all Heaven and earth, taking as my witness my Heavenly Mother Mary, and St. Joseph, my advocate and father, I promise Jesus that I will ever safeguard in me the precious virtue of virginity, my only desire being to please Him, and my only fear that of offending Him by sin. Show me, O my God, how to belong wholly to Thee in the most perfect manner possible, that I may ever love Thee more and more and never displease Thee in anything. This is the desire of my heart, on this my First Communion day. Holy Mary, I beg you on this the Feast of your Holy Spouse, St. Joseph, to obtain my petition.

“ ‘Your loving Child,

“I duly wrote and signed it, and at every subsequent Communion I renewed this offering. When afterwards I told Father Rubio what I had done he explained to me that little girls should not make promises beyond that of being very good, and he wanted me to tear up the paper. I could not, and I continued to repeat: ‘Lord, I am Thine forever.’ ”

This witness of her first oblation was kept by Josefa till her dying day, and the little faded paper, covered with her large childish script, still bears witness to her faithful love.

This first meeting with her Eucharistic Lord initiated Josefa into the divine intimacy which was afterwards to become so powerful and so free. Holy Communion was her greatest happiness and all noticed how solid virtue began to develop in her.

“After Josefa’s First Communion,” wrote her sister, “one may say that she ceased to be a child. I don’t remember seeing her take any part in the amusements she prepared for us with so much zest. Her charity was very great, too, outside the home. If a child she knew fell ill, she never failed to visit her. Her piety and spirit of sacrifice, the result of the good example given us by our parents, joined to her natural qualities, made her the soul of the little family. ‘Pepa’ as we called her, was a sort of second mother to us, and we never hesitated to confide to her our hopes, our troubles and our childish fears. One day when I was quite small, I was sent to buy something. I did so, but forgot to pay. Great was my apprehension when I became aware of my omission. I dared neither go back, nor bring the money home. I wrapped it in paper and left it beside a doorway in the street. Then I ran to Pepa and told her in secret what had happened. Very sweetly she comforted me, kissed me, soothed me, and herself went and paid for me. We always ran to her in our troubles, for she managed to arrange things so that we were not scolded.

“Thanks to her influence over our parents, Josefa obtained for this same little sister the grace to make her First Communion two years before the time that was then usual.

“Thus Pepa’s childhood passed in great simplicity, as was customary in Christian families of our station in life, but already what our eldest sister was to become was foreshadowed.”

At about this time her parents apprenticed her to a school of Arts and Crafts (Fomente del Arte),

Institute for the development of the arts.

where her intelligence and readiness in learning soon attracted attention. Her clever fingers turned out marvels of needlecraft, and she was very successful, securing the diplomas year after year.
When she was thirteen Josefa returned home, for the time had come to see to the education of her little sisters, but an accident had occurred at that time to their father, which determined their admission into the Free School of the Sacred Heart.

The Boarding School and Free School of the Sacré Coeur were both situated in the street called Leganitos. It was destroyed by the Reds during the civil war of 1936.

It was the year that Catholic Spain was to choose Our Lady under the title of the Immaculate Conception as Patron of her Infantry Regiments. An open-air Mass was to be celebrated on that occasion in the Park of the Royal Palace. Leonardo, watched by the young King Alphonsus XIII, was working at the decoration of the altar. Suddenly he dropped a tool which might have wounded the Prince in its fall, and the abrupt movement he made to avoid this caused him to lose his balance. He fell from the scaffolding and broke his arm. The King, touched by this act which had preserved him, wished to take charge of the education of the children. He offered to place them with the “Dames Anglaises,” which was a Royal Institution. But though Leonardo was deeply touched, he would not part with his family and preferred to send them as day-scholars to the Sacred Heart Free School, which was not far from his home. The two little girls were delighted, whilst Josefa was to benefit by the familiar intimacy with the Blessed Sacrament accorded by the Leganitos Chapel. The Blessed Sacrament henceforth became a daily attraction, Our Lord already directing this simple child so dear to His Heart to the Tabernacle where He forever dwells.

Family life continued happy and peaceful. The “little empress” kept her place as the most devoted of daughters and the best of sisters. Everything in the family was simple and joyous, but faith above all reigned supreme.

The great treat of those days was a visit to the Carmel of Loeches, where the children had an aunt. They were received like little princesses and had the run of the Chaplain’s quarters, where they discovered a copy of the Carmelite Rule, which they eagerly read. On their return home the great game was to play at being Carmelites. Office was chanted, penances performed, in all of which Josefa was the leading spirit, but it was for her a good deal more than a mere game.

Her parents were proud of her aptitude for dressmaking and held to her completing her training in a millinery establishment. The conversation of the workgirls was not always edifying, but in her daily Communion Josefa drew strength to retain her purity of heart; she wrote in her reminiscences of that time:

“I went through many perils, but God always protected me amid the dangers of evil talk, so common in our workroom. It often made my tears flow to hear things that troubled me, but I never doubted that God meant me to be His own, and this was my comfort and my strength. Nothing and nobody could have altered my resolve or made me doubt its truth.”

“On Sunday,” her sister tells us, “she often went to a Patronage, of which the president was the daughter of the owner of our house. This lady was wholly given to good works and very charitable. On Sunday, therefore, we spent the afternoon in useful and merry surroundings, and many children found there a shelter which preserved them from sin. Josefa was the life of the little party, and brought all her self-forgetfulness and intelligence into play, and our benefactress, who appreciated her virtue, used to assign her those parts in our little plays that no one else wanted, and these she acted with ready grace and simplicity.

She often accompanied the Senora X in the visits she paid to the poor. Pepa saw how she not only distributed alms, but was glad to render the most humble services to her clients. This greatly attracted her own generous nature. One day Maria secretly confided to Josefa that she had discovered a poor leprous old woman and that she was trying to find among her friends one who would join her in seeing that the poor patient wanted for nothing and was loved. Her name was Trinidad and she suffered very much. Her left side was paralyzed and her face and hands ravaged by the disease; she lived alone and was able to do nothing for herself. Pepa was delighted at this appeal to her generosity, and it was its hidden heroism that she most appreciated. For many weeks she went to feed Trinidad. Once she took her sister with her, thinking she could count on her discretion, but . . .

“The impression made on me by the poor leper was such that on my return home it was noticed, and I was questioned. I had to tell. Our mother forbade Pepa ever to go back to the poor invalid; a prohibition which cost her very much.”

So her time passed between family life, her work, and the exercise of charity. But Divine Love’s austere law was soon to be fulfilled in the sufferings which would try and strengthen her young soul.

“Never doubt the love of My Heart,” the divine Friend was to say to her later. “What matter if the wind of adversity blow, I have planted the root of your littleness in the soil of My Heart.”

Part II. WAITING 1907–1920

Let yourself be led blindfold, for I am your Father, and My eyes are open to lead and guide you.” (Our Lord to Josefa, September 18th, 1923)

SUFFERING so characteristic of the whole of Josefa’s life now first made its appearance in the home where hitherto it had been unknown. It was accepted peacefully as the friends of God are wont to accept it. Josefa learned to suffer as she had learned to love, and her heart opened wide to sorrow and sacrifice. It was going to do its work in making her will more flexible, teaching her to overcome her nature, while contact with the cross strengthened her love, maturing it without destroying its intensity.

In 1907 death came to the happy little home. Carmen, one of the little sisters, was carried off by sudden illness, and the children’s grandmother followed soon after. The loss of Carmencita was like a death knell to her parents. They fought against it, but is was more than they could bear. Both father and mother were laid low, the one by typhoid fever, the other by congestion of the lungs. Josefa’s true worth was at once revealed; she gave up her work and divided her attention between the two invalids, the care of her sisters, and the manifold home duties that pressed on her young shoulders. Medical advice was costly, and soon ran away with all their savings. Poverty was now added to sickness, yet not for a moment did Josefa’s courage flinch, and for a period of well-nigh seven weeks she bore unaided the full responsibility of anxiety and privation.

“We three children all slept together on a mattress on the floor,” she said. “Our kind doctor wanted father and mother to be taken to hospital, but I did not consent, for I was certain Providence would not forsake us, and it came to our help through the nuns of the Sacred Heart. Oh, I shall never forget how good they were to us!”

A novena to Saint Madeleine Sophie was begun, and in the course of it the mother, whose life was now despaired of, called the family to her bedside. “Do not cry any more,” she said. “Mother Barat has just been here to visit me. She told me that I am not going to die, because you still need me.”

“We never heard the particulars,” Josefa said afterwards, “but the next day she was out of danger, and father got well too, but his strength was gone and he never was able to work again.”

The nuns of the Sacred Heart watched discreetly over this interesting family. Josefa had no sewing-machine, and her slender resources did not allow her to purchase one. The Superior sent for her and asked her to buy her one, and to use it for a time to try it, and gave her an order for literally thousands of scapulars of the Sacred Heart for the soldiers of Melilla. When Josefa wanted to return the machine to Leganitos the Reverend Mother refused, saying that the making of the scapulars had more than paid for it; Pepa was profoundly touched by this kindness; she felt that such generosity was drawn from the Sacred Heart, and she henceforth became so attached to the Society that her one desire was to enter there.

Work came to her from various quarters. She already had a reputation for clever dressmaking, and before long had more orders than she was able to attend to, which spelled for her days of uninterrupted labor prolonged far into the night, but her energy and self-denial were equal to the occasion. She organized a workroom and there trained a number of young girls. She rose at six in the morning, and after hearing Mass at the Sacred Heart, returned to her labors till midday. After the meal, which was always followed by a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, the apprentices returned, and all the afternoon was spent in work. They were a happy little band, for Josefa’s good temper made all go smoothly, and her girls appreciated her thoughtful kindness, always alive to what could give them pleasure. But she was conscious of her responsibilities, and with gentle firmness insisted on good work and order. Every evening the Rosary was said in common, and Josefa’s devotion added many other prayers. On Saturday the two sisters went to Confession, and Father Rubio followed up Josefa with paternal interest.

“On Sundays,” this sister tells us, “the whole family rose early, in order to assist at several Masses. In the afternoon Pepa and I went to see the nuns of the Sacred Heart at all three houses in Madrid, and in the evening the whole family assisted at Benediction at Leganitos.”

When they were obliged to go out the two sisters accompanied each other; they exchanged thoughts, told each other of their fervent aspirations, and both spoke of vocation, a thing not possible at home, as their mother’s tears flowed freely whenever they alluded to the subject, so they resolved not to sadden her by speaking of it in her presence.

“One day,” wrote Mercedes, “Josefa told me she wanted to be a nun, but far from Spain, so that her sacrifice might be complete. As I did not agree with her in this, she answered me that nothing was too good to give God.”

In spite of her thoughtful character, she was always gay, and whilst this disposition of hers sweetened all contact with her, her efficiency and self-denial were equal to every occasion. Little by little comfort once more returned to the home-circle, but it was of short duration, and in the beginning of 1910 their father was carried off by a heart attack. During his last illness his wife never left him day or night, and spared nothing to give him relief. One day when she had gone out to procure a medicament for him, she saw a statue of the Sacred Heart in a shop window among a quantity of antiques. She was much moved and would have liked to buy it, thinking what pleasure it would give them all at home, and of the love with which they would pray around it. She went in and timidly asked the price, but alas, it far exceeded the small contents of her purse, for she had only enough to pay for the medicine her husband required. She thanked, left the shop, and had already gone some way along the road, when she heard herself called back. “Pay what you can, and take the statue,” said the man. Touched and delighted, Lucia gave the money she had with her, carried off her treasure, and returning to Leonardo—“Instead of the medicine,” she said, “I have brought you the Sacred Heart.” The sick man was pleased beyond measure, for his faith was very great. The statue was placed at the foot of his bed, and he never tired of looking at it. He died, with eyes fixed on it, on the 7th of April 1910, leaving it to his family as a pledge of assured protection. Father Rubio, who had assisted him in his last moments, now constituted himself the friend and adviser of the sorrowing household, while Josefa became the sole support of her mother, and her earnings alone kept the wolf from the door. Her soul lived ever on her one love, and her offering was daily repeated and remained the strength and horizon of her life in the difficult days that followed. Before her father’s death she had already made known her secret aspirations and begged leave to enter the Society of the Sacred Heart. For the first time in his life he was angry with Pepa. She dried her tears, but kept her treasured vocation unchanged in her heart.

Later on, a Carmelite Father offered to obtain her admission into his Order. That was not her vocation, and she gratefully refused, but took occasion to tell her mother once more where God called her. She met with no other opposition than tearful appeals not to abandon her, and for the second time she deferred her entrance. Great, however, was her grief when her younger sister obtained their mother’s leave and left for the Noviceship at Chamartin (Madrid). Josefa who had trained her with a view to passing on to her the support of the family was deeply disillusioned. Her faith in God was her only support, and her mature virtue once more helped her to forget herself. Her sister wrote on this subject:

“We were inseparable till the day of my entrance into the Noviceship. My departure gave her keen sorrow, but in my youthful thoughtlessness and desire to consecrate my life to Jesus Christ, I hardly realized it. It was only later that I became aware of the sacrifice I had imposed on my beloved sister; then the thought that God had so arranged it alone consoled me.”

Josefa continued her devoted life of hard work and made light of her fatigue; she turned her hopes towards the youngest of her sisters, but she, too, in time, was to have a vocation, and three years after Josefa’s death entered the Carmelite Convent at Loeches, where she took the name of Madeleine Sophie of the Sacred Heart. She was later sent to Portugal, where the Order was to be restored at Coimbra.

God who was leading Josefa by hidden though sure ways, was more than once to allow her to take the wrong path, thereby teaching her the science of abandonment and the perfection of sacrifice.

Father Rubio, who had followed her up for the last twelve years, did not abandon her, and in February 1912, when she was twenty-two, he thought the moment opportune. The Order of Marie Réparatrice seemed to him one that would suit Josefa; he knew the nuns intimately, and began to direct her vocation towards them. Though her attraction lay in a different direction, Josefa stifled her feelings and asked to be admitted at the Réparatrice Convent. Here she was happy; she appreciated the spirit, and generously embraced her new religious life. The thought of making reparation for the sins of men through the Heart of Mary appealed to her, and no sort of temptation or trouble came to mar the happy months that followed. Gradually, however, and almost in spite of herself, there stole over her soul’s consciousness the reawakening of another love—that of the Sacred Heart—her first attraction, and every time she heard the convent bells ringing (for they were close to her convent) the inward struggle was renewed. Our Lady herself intervened and showed her that she had not found her true home.

Josefa had charge of a large room which contained a big statue of the Blessed Virgin, under the title of Our Lady of Sorrows; in accordance with Spanish custom, it was adorned with rich vesture, and in her hand Our Lady held a crown of real thorns. Josefa was surprised one day to see the crown lit up by a shaft of light coming from she knew not where. She did not venture to speak of the marvel, but as the light continued for three or four days, she resolved to investigate its origin. She found that it proceeded from one of the thorns, and at the same time she heard a penetrating voice saying: “Take this thorn, my child; Jesus will give you others as time goes on.” Josefa detached the thorn as she was bid, and the response she gave to her Mother’s gift was a fresh offering of herself which was before long to receive its seal in suffering.

Her six months’ postulantship was over and the day of her clothing fixed, when her mother, who had missed her sorely, came and claimed her again. Father Rubio seconded the mother’s request, and so it came about that Josefa’s return home was decided, and she left the Novitiate with the feelings we can imagine. She took with her the thorn, whose light, like that in her own heart, was quenched. Its reality, however, had sunk deeply into her inmost being, and this reality was suffering.

Courageously she faced the upward path to God, and resumed the old tasks. This time she was employed very largely by the nuns of the Sacred Heart in making the children’s uniforms. Simple, modest, and conscientious in her work, her life was illumined by her constant prayer. She went every fortnight to see her sister, now a novice at Chamartin, and they talked together of what filled her soul. She loved to talk of the life of a Sister in the Society of the Sacred Heart, which she felt fulfilled every aspiration she had.

The nun who was over her in the school linen-room was struck by her devotedness, her love of duty, and the sweetness of disposition that made light of every difficulty and never caused the smallest embarrassment to others. Her tact, her dexterity and judgment, her silent activity all greatly impressed her; she was always on the watch to render service and every spare minute was spent before the Blessed Sacrament. “I feel thoroughly in my element when I am here,” she used to say in speaking of Chamartin.

Very different was the story when she was obliged to work for clients outside. Her delicate conscience was many a time outraged by the absence of modesty in dress of those she worked for, and who as Catholics should have known better; it was then more than at any other time that she felt her “banishment” from Convent walls, and she would exclaim: “Since childhood my one prayer has been that ‘I might dwell in the House of the Lord,’ and the more I see of life outside, the greater is my longing to die, if this wish of my heart cannot be granted.”

She lived on her burning hopes, and her daily Communion was fuel to the fire. This was the source of her serenity and of her courage; to others the secret of her cross and of her thorn was never told.

She had few friends, but her example and her counsels had made her the center of a group of working girls on whom her influence was remarkable. She would head a pilgrimage to Avila or to the Cerre de los Angeles,

This is a hill situated in the geographical center of Spain, and on it the National Monument of Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was erected.

where the memorial to the Sacred Heart had been erected in accomplishment of the national vow, and on these and other rare outings her bright cheerfulness and fervor made a deep impression on them.
The months dragged on, and all the time Josefa was watching her opportunity. In 1917 she thought the moment had come, and when she begged her admission at Chamartin she was kindly received and her mother’s consent obtained. Her departure was fixed for the 24th of September, Feast of Our Lady of Mercy. Alas, when the long-desired day dawned her mother’s tears shook her resolution, and again prevailed . . . tender-hearted Josefa yielded at the sight of her distress; her place in the Noviceship remained empty, and she was left to weep over the frailty that had prevented her from keeping her tryst. But He who “works in obscurity, and who nevertheless is light” pursued His purpose and in His own good time brought her out of darkness into light.

The French houses of the Sacred Heart which had been suppressed by iniquitous laws were just at this time taking on a new lease of life, and many were reopening after the expulsions that had marked the beginning of the century. The old monastery of Les Feuillants at Poitiers had been preserved for the Society, and here a Noviceship for Sisters was opened, in the house that had been the first General Noviceship of the Society and was still redolent with memories of Saint Madeleine Sophie. It was here that God called Josefa, and He Himself guided her through the final storms of her vocation.

In 1919 she was already twenty-nine years of age and she felt that she had forfeited her chance of success by her former act. What was she to do? An interior voice urged her to try and try again, but an irrevocable denial met her advances; Superiors mistrusted her long and repeated hesitations.

“On the 16th of September, I felt my courage at an end, and kneeling before my crucifix, I begged Our Lord either to take me out of this life or to admit me into the Society of His Sacred Heart, for I could bear no more. Then it seemed to me that He showed me His Sacred Hands and Feet and said to me ‘Kiss these Wounds. Can you indeed bear no more for Me? Have I not chosen you for My Sacred Heart?’ I am unable to put into words what then took place in me. I promised—oh, I promised Him to live henceforth only for Him and to suffer . . . and begged Him to pity my weakness and wavering.”

Two months passed in fervent supplications, till there dawned a memorable day for Josefa; it was the 19th of November.

“That day in my Communion I implored Our Lord by His Wounds and Precious Blood to open to me the doors of the Sacred Heart, which I knew I had closed by my own act.”

That morning Josefa went as usual to fetch work at the convent at Chamartin; on her arrival she was told that the Superior wished to see her: a letter had just arrived from Les Feuillants (Poitiers) asking for one or two good vocations to begin the projected Noviceship. Did they know of any, and could they send anyone? The Superior asked Josefa if she felt equal to entering in a French house of the Society. This time there was no hesitation; at once she wrote to offer herself, and kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament, she begged that grace and strength might be given her to triumph over her weakness. This prayer was answered, and she was able to say afterwards: “I felt endued with a power I had never before experienced.”

Her brokenhearted mother this time offered no opposition, and in order to avoid painful scenes, Josefa left home without saying good-bye and carrying nothing with her. The Mothers at Chamartin gave her her fare and provided her with all she needed. She reached San Sebastian, the first stage of her journey, and there found a warm welcome in the Sacred Heart.

“Jesus took me,” she said, “I still do not know how, but I arrived at San Sebastian without money or strength—with nothing but love, I think . . . but I was at the end of my pilgrimage . . . I, the same as ever, so weak, but He sustained me.”

The nuns at San Sebastian who had received her with so much affection prolonged her stay there for a whole month. Full of gratitude, she devoted herself to helping in the household. All noted how silently and deftly she worked, always in deep recollection. However, sad letters from her mother and sister and the realization of the difficulty the French language was going to be to her caused her some misgivings, still she kept her will firmly fixed on her goal, and when asked how she would manage in a country whose tongue she did not know, “God is leading me,” she answered simply, and on February 4th she left for Poitiers.

It was a final departure, for she never saw Spain again. But what of that? Was she not obeying the call of One whose sovereign love can never ask too much?
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre


Part I. IN THE OPEN HEART OF JESUS February 4th–July 16th 1920

For all you give Me, I give you My Heart.” (Our Lord to Josefa, July 15th, 1920)

THE old-world town of Poitiers is perched above the valley of the Clain, and from the top of its highest hill the ancient monastery of Les Feuillants dominates the surrounding country. There two centuries earlier, a colony of Cistercians had settled; it was a place of prayer and labor, and though the French Revolution left the hallowed spot desolate it was destined to live again, when the storm had passed and faith had revived, for the monastic buildings were peopled once more at the coming of Saint Madeleine Sophie and her newly-founded Order. Here the Saint opened the first Noviceship of the Society of the Sacred Heart, here she made long sojourns, and here, too, many graces were conferred on her. Ever since, the house, the cloisters, and the garden have been regarded by the nuns of the Sacred Heart as a sort of reliquary and memorial of their holy Foundress.

To this remote and solitary house of prayer Josefa was guided by God, that He might there cultivate her soul and train and associate her with His divine Heart in the work of Redemption.

None who saw Josefa on her arrival at Poitiers could have suspected how great a work was beginning, for from the first days of her postulantship she passed unnoticed, and during the four years of her short religious life remained ever the same simple, silent, laborious, and unassuming religious. There was nothing particularly attractive in her exterior; she was usually serious and seemed at times to be suffering, but a bright, intelligent smile lighted up her face when she was addressed, especially if a service were asked of her. Her large dark eyes alone expressed and at times betrayed her inmost feelings; they were limpid eyes, gentle and ardent, and bespoke her interior recollection.

Her gifts, if hidden, were very real ones: she was swift and capable, active and adaptable to all sorts of conditions; she possessed rare good sense and excellent judgment. These gave her character an earnest and balanced foundation on which grace could build at will. Her heart was both tender and generous; her past sufferings had given her breadth of understanding and the kindliness which self-forgetfulness alone engenders. She brought to her religious formation a maturity which was the fruit of sacrifice and a supernatural understanding of the value of a religious vocation, together with a highly developed interior spirit and an immense love of God.

These gifts were hidden from herself as they were from those around her, and from the day of her arrival till her death she went her way utterly unknown, in the complete effacement of a very faithful and obscure life.

There were few novices at Poitiers; Josefa remained first postulant and eldest novice among the members, who came like herself from various houses of the Society.

The humble hiddenness of the life filled her with enthusiasm; it was modeled on that of Nazareth, and she found in it the fulfillment of her most sanguine expectations. It was in effect just what Saint Madeleine Sophie had defined as her ideal—a great deal of strenuous labor offered for the souls of children, accompanied by the vivifying charity and prayerful atmosphere that result from close union with the Heart of Jesus. Josefa threw herself with her whole heart and soul into the current of life as she found it.

Events were few, and there is little to record of the months of her postulantship and noviceship, and the short eighteen months of religious life that followed after her vows till her death. None of the things that made up her daily life are of any value in the eyes of the world, yet are not the first years of the life of the Man-God all summed up in one short sentence: “He was subject to them”? And so it was with Josefa; the less a Sister is spoken of, the more unnoticed, the truer she is to type. None of those who lived with her knew anything of her mysterious intercourse with the Sacred Heart of Our Lord, and when after her death they were asked to recount all they could recall about her, how little they were able to say! She had passed unnoticed and hidden, simply and faithfully doing her duty—that was all.

In this way Our Lord veiled from all the special graces which He now began to give her; day by day His designs of love were imprinted on the warp and woof of a career so hidden from human eyes that no exterior sign revealed the secret of which God Himself was the guardian.

Certainly it is one of the marvels of this narrative that the exterior and visible was such a contrast to the inner and invisible life she led. Josefa always followed common life and seemed in no way different from her sisters, yet she bore on her soul the weight of the most extraordinary and momentous graces of divine predilection which at one moment delivered her over to the onsets of excruciating physical pain, and again held her captive under the Hand of God; there was a twofold current of love between Him and her: Love Divine, which like the eagle precipitates itself upon its prey, and whose velocity none can stay, and a love frail yet ardent—that of Josefa—whose constant endeavor was to hold herself ever ready to accept all the urgent requirements of God’s plan.

These pages are an attempt to narrate something of the mystery of her life. While we unhesitatingly submit to the judgment of the Holy See, sole judge in these matters, it would seem that the silence and shade under which that life was to unfold itself bore the stamp of the Holy Spirit, and we are therefore less afraid of temerity in discerning His Hand in the heavenly prudence which surpassed all human feasibility and succeeded in keeping undiscovered, except by her Superiors alone, the course of Josefa’s uncharted ways—for the big household of Les Feuillants remained totally ignorant of the mysterious marvels that were being enacted within its walls, and that to the very end of Josefa’s life.

Another sign of God’s action, and by no means the least, was the jealous care with which Our Lord kept His instrument lowly in her own eyes, as in those of everybody else. “It is not for what you are that I have chosen you, but for what you are not. So I have found room for My power and My love.” He reiterated this to her again and again.

It was fundamentally necessary that the Lord of all Wisdom should begin by sinking deep in her consciousness this capacity for humility in which the predilections of His Heart could, so to speak, engulf themselves. Josefa, whose frail skiff had reached the port of the religious life she so coveted, was soon to be tossed by storms and high winds more perilous than any that had hitherto rocked her little craft. “A fortnight of delicious peace,” she noted, “followed on my entrance into the Postulantship.”

She soon made acquaintance with the Mothers and Sisters, the house and the garden. Memory still recalls the arrival of the little Spaniard with her big black eyes, who did not know how to express her joy and her gratitude for being there. Simple and good-natured, she soon became quite at home in her new surroundings. The Mother Assistant and several Sisters who had spent long years in Spain and had become familiar with the language were able to greet her in her own Castilian tongue. A few days rest, and the new recruit was sent to help the Sister in the kitchen. Josefa was unaccustomed to that particular kind of work, but she put her whole heart into it and her face beamed with pleasure, showing how little it mattered to her what form the work took, if she was thereby able to prove her love for Him who possessed her whole heart. Nothing, it seemed could cast a shadow over such happiness, but the evil one, who had a presentiment of her future worth, was close by, ready to suggest subtle temptations. God was going to allow him to come on the scene, and Josefa sank into the darkest night of trial.

“Soon,” she wrote, “I began to waver at the thought of my mother and sister . . . of my home, and of the language that I did not understand. The temptation was so strong in the first months that I felt I could not possibly withstand it. Above all, the sad thought of the pain I was inflicting on my sister seemed intolerable. However, I made up my mind to leave them all to the Heart of Our Lord, to place them in His care, and every time the remembrance of these much-loved ones returned I did as I was advised and made an act of love and confidence.

“One evening in the beginning of April the temptation to leave was stronger than usual. All day long I had been repeating: ‘My God I love Thee,’ for above all I wanted to be faithful to Him. When I went to bed I put my crucifix under my pillow as I always did. I woke towards midnight, and kissing it, I said with all my heart: ‘My God from today on I will love Thee more than ever.’ At the same instant I was seized by an invisible force, and a shower of blows, as if from a fist, fell on me; they were so violent that I feared I should die. This torture continued all night, all through meditation and Mass. I was so terrified that I never left hold of my crucifix. I felt exhausted and dared not move. At the moment of the elevation of the Sacred Host I saw a sort of flash pass by me, there was a rapid current of wind, and suddenly all was quiet again, but the pain of the blows lasted several days.”

This was but the prelude to a lifelong fight Josefa was to wage with the powers of darkness, but it never affected her work nor her fidelity to the Rule. Her confidence and obedience to her Mistress of Novices grew,

These words, which were not spoken by Our Lord, but shown to Josefa written in a book in the midst of the flames of His Heart, are to be found word for word in the works of Saint Margaret Mary. They are at the hour of Sext of the Office for Tuesday in the Little Breviary of the Sacred Heart. Through them the Saint marvelously explains her mission as a victim and it would seem that in reproducing them here as His own it was Our Lord’s intention to associate humble little Sister Josefa with the Saint.

and she went to her in all her troubles, there to get the peace and strength she needed to go on suffering.
“On Thursday, May 7th,” she wrote, “being absolutely exhausted by my struggles, I begged to be allowed to go, but the Mother Assistant showed me the note I had written with my own hand, asking that for the love of God, in the name of the Blessed Virgin, of my Father Saint Joseph, and of our Holy Mother Foundress, even if I asked a thousand times to be sent away, that I should be reminded a thousand times that in moments when the light shone I was convinced that God wanted me here.

“From that hour I had not a day of peace, and God only knows what I endured . . .”

Five weeks of struggle went by; they were exceptionally hard to bear, and Josefa continued to repeat the words obedience had put into her mouth: “Yes, dear Lord, I will stay here; I love Thee, and I will obey. I can see no light, but in spite of this, I will be faithful to Thee.” One evening in May the diabolical assaults became more tangible:

“I was in the chapel for my adoration,” she wrote later, “when I was suddenly surrounded with what seemed to be a crowd of spirits, I saw horrible faces, heard sharp yells, and there rained on me a shower of furious blows. I could not call for help; I was so overcome that I had to sit down, and pray I could not, so I just looked at the Tabernacle. Suddenly I was roughly seized by the arm, as if someone wanted to force me to leave the chapel. The power that held me was irresistible, and not knowing what to do or where to go, for I was afraid of meeting someone, I went up to our Blessed Mother’s cell.

“When the Mother Assistant found me and asked me what I was doing there, I was unable to answer her. Interiorly I said to myself: ‘Even if they kill me, I will go and tell her everything’—but I was once more surrounded by that awful crowd whose screams terrified me. When I reached her door in a flash they all disappeared, and I found such peace that I should have liked to stay there forever. . . .

“The same thing has often happened since. As soon as I have determined to speak, everything stops as I reach the Mother Assistant’s door. I have noticed, too, the rage of the devil when she makes a little cross on my forehead; he seems to stamp his foot in fury, and at other times, if she forgets it, I hear hideous guffaws.”

It was after such trials that Josefa’s postulantship ended. On the 16th of July she was to take the habit, but so many unexpected sufferings and the thought of future trials left her undecided and hesitant; at one time she made up her mind to embrace God’s Will at whatever cost, at another she felt paralyzed and could not accept what must be bought at such a high price. “It was thus,” she wrote, “till the day when Jesus made His divine Presence clearly known to me, and since then He has given me so much light and consolation.”

On Saturday, June 5th, 1920, after a formidable attack of the devil, Josefa decided to go; she went into the chapel with her Sisters for the evening adoration; there, Jesus was waiting for her. Under the influence of the arch-fiend who dominated her: “No,” she said, “I will not take the habit, I am going home.” “I said it five times, but could not go on,” she wrote later. “My Jesus how good Thou art to me.”

All of a sudden she was, as she naïvely expressed it, wrapped in a sweet slumber, from which she awoke in the Wound of the Sacred Heart.

“I cannot explain what happened . . . Jesus . . . I want nothing more than to love Thee and to be faithful to my vocation.”

In the radiance now illuminating her, she saw all the sins of the world, and offered her life to comfort the wounded Heart of Our Lord. She was seized with a vehement desire of uniting herself to Him, and no sacrifice appeared too great that she might be faithful to her vocation. In the effulgence of the Godhead the night had faded away and desolation had given place to unfathomable bliss.

“It was God who did it,” she continued in the notes she wrote under obedience. “I am abashed at so much goodness; I want to love Him to folly. . . . I have but two requests: love and gratitude to His Sacred Heart. . . . More than ever I recognize my weakness, but also I shall now find strength and courage in Him. . . . Never before have I rested in that Divine Wound . . . but now I know where to go in moments of tribulation: It is a place of sweetest repose and much love.

“I feel keenly that I have been resisting grace and have been unfaithful, but this has become a further motive of confidence and hope that Our Lord will never fail me, even when I seem to be all alone. That was what made me so afraid before: to be alone, and unfaithful. But now I see that, even though I did not know it, He was helping me. Well, I simply cannot express how much I want to love Him.”

When Josefa came out of the chapel, still strongly under the influence of the divine contact, she was a totally changed person.

“And then, I don’t know what it is,” she added two days later, “but I believe He wants to tell me another secret, because during my prayer yesterday, Monday, June 7th, He made me re-enter that Divine Wound: O my Jesus, how great is Thy love for me . . . I shall never be able to respond to so much goodness. It seemed to me that I saw in that Divine Wound a tiny opening, and I wanted to know how to get in . . . but He made me understand that it will not be till later.”

“Twelve days have passed,” she wrote on June 17th, “since the signal grace Jesus granted me. I have had immense consolation during that time, but especially I have been able to study all that this Sacred Heart was teaching me. He showed me clearly, that what pleases Him most is to do little acts out of obedience. I understood that I must direct all my energies to this, for that is how I shall learn to deny myself in everything, and however small the act is, it will still be pleasing to His Sacred Heart. . . . Oh, I want to be burnt up by love. Oh, what a Heart is that of my Jesus!”

Crushed by the weight of so much grace and such amazing happenings, Josefa continued to jot down on paper the overflow of her heart.

“Today, Wednesday, June 23rd, I was meditating on the kindness of the Heart of Jesus and this thought came to me: that this Heart so full of love for souls and for me, that this same Heart is to become my Bridegroom, if I am faithful. I did not know what to say, and how to thank. ‘O my God, I can only pay Thee back with Thyself, for I am Thine and Thou art mine. . . . I give myself up to Thee, my life must be solely in God . . . and for God. . . . ’ I must so abandon self that everything in me may be consumed and obliterated and that all I do and am, may be solely of Him.

“After I had received Him in Holy Communion, I told Him, as I always do, how much I love Him, and want to love Him. Then He made me re-enter my place of refuge; it is the third time I have rested in that Divine Heart. . . . I am not able to explain what happens . . . except to say that I am too little for so many graces. . . . My God, Thy Heart fills with love those who seek and love It.

“During the heavenly moments that I spent in that Wound, Jesus gave me to understand that He is rewarding me for the very little I have done to prove my fidelity. I will never again seek my own interests, but only the glory of His Heart. I will try to be very obedient and very generous in the smallest details, for I believe perfection consists in this, and that it is the one way straight to Him.”

“Today, June 24th, I saw in a way impossible to explain what the Heart of Jesus is. . . . I asked Him to make me thirst for Him. I cannot set down in writing what I saw . . . but it was Himself, Heaven on earth. . . . O my God, it is too much, I cannot bear such happiness . . . would that I had something I could offer Him . . . give to Him, who gives me so much, but I am so little. . . . I again promised to be faithful and above all to let myself be guided in everything so as to go more surely to His Divine Heart.”

Here Josefa stopped, for she does not allow her feelings to run away with her. She tried to penetrate to the very depths of the Heart of Jesus to discover what He expected of her, and to realize the immensity of His loving-kindness.

“As each moment goes by, I notice two things. First, a greater understanding of the Divine Goodness, for if I certainly have always known that God loves mankind to folly, now I know that it is His Sacred Heart that does so. . . . His greatest sorrow is not to find a return of love, and if a soul is wholly abandoned to Him, she can be sure that He will fill her with graces, will make of her His Heaven, and take up His abode in her. I promise in a very special way fidelity, obedience, confidence, and abandonment. The second thing I have noticed is the clearer view I have gained of myself. I see myself as I am (though I am not sure that I do fully): cold, distracted, immortified, and ungenerous. . . . O my God, why dost Thou love me so? Thou knowest what I am . . . but I will not lose confidence, Lord . . . what I cannot do myself, that Thou wilt do, and with Thy love and Thy grace I will go forward.”

Jesus, too, was about to take her deeper into His Heart; the graces with which He had overwhelmed her in this month of June were but a prelude. Josefa wrote on the evening of June 29th:

“Meditation today was on the three denials of Saint Peter, and comparing my weakness to his, I resolved to weep for my falls, and to learn to love as he did. How often I, too, have promised fidelity . . . but I did so today with more force and decision. Yes, Lord, I will be faithful. I promise not only to refuse Thee nothing, but to go forward to do what I know will please Thee.

“I was thus in converse with my God, when again He made me enter the Wound of His side. The little passage by which I was unable to enter the other day opened, and He gave me to understand the happiness that is to be mine if I am faithful to all the graces He has prepared for me.

“I cannot very well describe what I saw; my heart was being consumed in a great flame. I could not see the bottom of this abyss, for it is an immense space and full of light. I was so taken up with what I saw that I was not able to speak or ask anything. . . . I spent meditation and part of Mass in this way . . . till, a little before the Elevation, my eyes, even my poor eyes . . . saw my Beloved Jesus, my heart’s desire, my Lord and my God; His Heart in the midst of a great flame. I cannot say what passed; it is not possible. . . . Would that the whole world knew the secret of happiness. There is but one thing to do: love and abandon oneself. Jesus Himself will take charge of all the rest. . . .

“I was annihilated in the presence of so much beauty and so brilliant a light, when He said to me in a voice so sweet and grave:

“ ‘Just as I sacrificed Myself as a victim of love, so I want you to be a victim: love never refuses anything.’

“So this heavenly moment passed, for I can give it no other name. I could only say: ‘My God, what wouldst Thou have me do? . . . Take and dispose of me, for I no longer belong to myself, but I am Thine.’ Then He vanished.”

When recording this experience Josefa was unable to contain herself. Already her love had become a consuming zeal, for in drawing her near His Heart, Our Lord allowed the thirst that devours His own to overflow onto hers.

“Jesus,” she wrote, “I have but one desire—that the whole world may know Thee, but especially the souls of religious whom Thou hast chosen for Thy adorable Heart. If they know Thee, they will love Thee, for Thou art the one and only Good. Inflame me with Thy Love and that is enough for me. . . . Inflame all hearts and this, too, will suffice, for where there is love, we run to Thee by the shortest way. As for myself, I ask only to love Thee daily more and more, only Thee! Everything else will be but a path to lead me to Thee. Would that I could bring the whole world to the divine furnace of Thy Heart, even if it cost me my life.

“Jesus has given me such a thirst to make all men love Him that I am ready to offer all, to undertake all that costs me most, to please Him and obtain that others may know and love Him.

“I promised Him to do nothing except what Holy Obedience prescribes, and I understand that it will please Him very much if I am simple and very open with Superiors, so as to allow myself to be guided as a little child.”

A few days after “this great and heavenly moment,” Our Lord showed Josefa the cost of this thirst for souls that He was beginning to communicate to her. She wrote on Saturday, July 3rd:

“I was working in the Noviceship today and thinking of the happiness it was to be living under the same roof with Him and to have Him as the Companion of all my labors. I don’t remember exactly what I was saying to Him, but suddenly He showed me His Heart all surrounded with flames and wreathed with a crown of thorns. . . . O my God, what thorns! . . . they were very sharp and penetrated very deeply, and from each there flowed a great deal of blood. . . . I should have liked to take them from Him. Then my heart was as it were torn with sharpest anguish, and He placed it next His Own under the thorns. My heart was so small that only six of them pierced it. Then there was silence. . . . I could not utter a word. He knew that I longed for my heart to be bigger that so I might have freed His from more of the thorns.

“Then in a voice so gentle and yet so full of pain, He said: ‘My Heart has suffered all this and infinitely more. But some souls unite themselves to Me and comfort Me, and so make up for those who go away from Me.’

“Oh, how He has suffered. . . . I understand that some thorns wound Him more cruelly than others. I should have liked to know what to do to console Him, for what I can offer Him is very little, and when compared with His torments, very little indeed—but He did not tell me.”

On Sunday, July 4th, Josefa was at Holy Mass as usual, associating herself with the Divine Mysteries:

“To tell the truth,” she wrote soon after, “not knowing what to say or do, if not to humble myself, for every day I get a clearer insight into my misery and littleness, I was trying to do this, when I saw before me the Adorable Heart. It was pierced through with a large thorn, which caused much blood to flow. O my Jesus! who is wounding Thee so? . . . Is it I? . . . What sorrow to see Thy Sacred Blood flow; it pains me more than I can say. My Lord and my God, take me and do with me what Thou wilt, but do not let that thorn transpierce Thy Heart. . . . Then I saw what looked like a very large nail drawn out, leaving so gaping a wound that I could see deep into that burning brazier, and Jesus replied: ‘That large nail is the coldness of My religious, I want you to understand it that you may be all on fire with love and may console Me.’

“On Tuesday, July 6th, while I was at prayer, He again showed me His Heart; It was transpierced by six thorns. My grief was very great, because of His sufferings, and of the impossibility I was in to give Him consolation or to assuage His pain. He made me understand that those six thorns are six souls that are offending Him in a particular way. He said: ‘These are the thorns I ask you to draw out by your love and desires.’

“Then He allowed a few drops of His Blood to fall on my heart . . . O my God, my heart is too small for so much love, but such as it is, it belongs entirely to Thee.”

The next day, once more Jesus made her enter His wounded Heart, and left her this watchword: “Love Me in your littleness; this will console Me.”

“Of all the graces that I receive,” she concluded at this time, “two things remain deeply engraven on my heart: first, a very great desire to love and to suffer in order to correspond to His love, and this I shall find in fidelity to my vocation; second, an ardent thirst that many souls may know and love Him, especially those He has chosen and consecrated to Himself. This, I think, is to be my path in life: to spare myself in nothing, and offer many little acts to Jesus whom I love to folly, or at any rate desire so to love.”

Such were the dispositions in which she waited for the day of her clothing. The retreat which was to bring her through many a struggle to this much-longed-for day began on Wednesday, July 7th.

“Ardent desire to surrender wholly, leaving nothing out and refusing nothing of whatever I know to be God’s Will. Be very attentive to the voice of God, so that this retreat may be the foundation of my Noviceship. I will ask especially for a great love of my vocation which is for me the means of union and conformity with the Heart of Jesus.”

Such are the opening words Josefa wrote in her retreat notebook. She noted faithfully day by day the result of her efforts, and one becomes conscious as one reads these very simple jottings destined for no eye but her own, how great was the storm and commotion of temptation that had arisen within her.

“I was in great consolation,” she wrote, “until the third day of my retreat. But in the meditation on the Judgment, when I suddenly found myself alone before God, as my Judge, my soul was filled with fear, and I lost the peace which had not left me since June 5th. I saw before me all the graces that will one day accuse me, and the sight plunged me into such desolation and solitude that it seemed to me far preferable not to receive them, rather than to have to give an account of them. . . .

“Several days went by and I decided to go home. My God! What darkness and what anguish. . . . My mother and sister were expected, and this increased the temptation, as it revived my affection for them and for my home.

“From the very first I had told the Mother Assistant everything, and I constantly repeated the offering she had taught me and which had helped me so much before; I wanted to stay and be faithful, and there were moments when I saw that the whole thing was a temptation. But nothing availed and the day before my clothing, July 15th, the struggle was so great, that I could think of nothing to offer God but the temptation itself: ‘O my God, I love my liberty, my family and my home—in a word all that makes up this temptation—I offer it all to Thee, for what else do I want but to be faithful and die. . . . ’

“Then it was that Jesus deigned to console me as I shall relate.”

But before telling of these graces, Josefa held to stating explicitly her reply of love:

“Practical result of the first three weeks

In the Society of the Sacred Heart it is the Mother Assistant who is specially charged with the Sisters and the direction of their Noviciate.

of this retreat:
“I saw that God is calling me to great perfection and it consists in complete conformity to His Heart.

“The means: my vocation and holy Rule.

“God is calling me to a life of intimate union with Himself; He wishes me to live in a state of sacrifice, as a victim. . . . He will choose my cross. It is not for me to ask or select; He will give what He pleases. He wants my life to be spent in His Heart, and I know that the cross and thorns are part of it. Such is my life; it must be so, and only so shall I be doing God’s Will.

“I do not feel that I can very well explain what took place during the contemplation ad Amorem: I had so ardent a desire to give Him all He asks for, that I said with my whole heart: ‘Take, O Lord, and receive all my will; I give Thee all I care for most in the world . . . if there is anything else that Thou requirest of me, I give it with joy—take my miseries and consume them, take my heart and my soul, take me, Lord.”

The response was immediate:

A stream of the Precious Blood escaping from His Heart submerged Josefa. “For all that you give Me,” He said, “I give you My Heart.”

“I thought myself no longer on this earth—He was clothed in white, and this made His Sacred Heart stand out in an ineffable manner. . . . His face was like the sun. . . . O my God, what beauty. . . . How entrancing to those who know Thee.”

Naïvely Josefa explains in the lines that follow how she required no book in order to meditate on Heaven: “For the real Heaven is in my heart. Love is all I want . . . love, love.”

Once more before the great day He wished to show her whither He was leading her, and Josefa, who had leave to make a Holy Hour, began it with an act of profoundest humility.

“I adored the Divine Majesty,” she wrote, “and then I thought of the graces I had received from God, and of my desire to console Him which was growing ever stronger.

“Suddenly I saw Him standing before me in His gleaming white raiment, and His Heart seemed about to escape from His breast. As I was alone in the tribune, I fell on my face, humbling myself all I could, but unable to speak.

“After a moment of silence, showing me the six thorns, He said in a voice that is so piercing-sweet: ‘Daughter, take out these thorns.’

“On Friday, July 16th, the day of my clothing, as I received the white veil and all through Mass, Jesus was present to me, and made me enter the Wound in His Heart. All I was able to say was . . . My God, I am Thine forevermore . . .”
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre


Part II. VOCATION OF REPARATION July 17th–August 25th, 1920

If you love Me, Josefa, remove this thorn.” (Our Lord to Josefa, August 17th, 1920)

THE wounded Heart of Jesus was very soon to make a further appeal to Josefa, as to one chosen for a special share in His redemptive work for souls. He reminded her of her vocation as victim, and a few days after her clothing, on Thursday, August 5th, He made her share once more the pain of the six thorns that were wounding Him, and comforted her with the words: “If you are faithful, you shall know the riches of My Heart. You will carry My Cross indeed, but as on a well-loved Bride shall My benefits be heaped upon you.”

“This time,” said Josefa, “I saw Him surrounded with such splendor that it was not possible to gaze fixedly on that dazzling light. His Heart was all aflame and seemed to be escaping from His breast.”

On Tuesday, August 10th, she wrote:

“At meditation I had a great desire to comfort Him. I offered Him all the actions of my day, and begged Him to tell me if there was anything else I could do. I promised not to let Him out of my thoughts for a single instant, and I never stopped telling Him of my love. That evening before going to adoration, I went into the oratory of Mater

In the Exercises of Saint Ignatius four periods are named “weeks.”

to ask our Blessed Lady to help me to console her Son; when I reached the chapel I suddenly found myself in the presence of Jesus. . . . He said: ‘What else do I want but love? Look at My Heart, Josefa. It alone can make you happy. Rest in It.’
“Then He went on to say: ‘I had six thorns. You have taken out five; only one remains and that is the one that wounds Me most. Spare no pains to remove it.’

“ ‘Lord,’ I answered, ‘what shall I do?’

“ ‘I want you to love Me and to be faithful to Me. Remember, no one else can make you happy. I will lay open to you the riches of My Heart. Love Me without measure.’

“And again I was left alone.”

The feast of the Assumption came round. Josefa, who loved Our Lady so dearly, spent the day in union with her, and as the remembrance of the thorn deeply embedded in the Sacred Heart haunted her:

“I begged her,” she wrote, “to take charge of that soul and to draw out the thorn that Jesus had asked me to remove from His Heart.

“The next day, towards three in the afternoon, while I was at my sewing, I was telling Our Lord that I wanted every stitch to be an act of love so as to comfort Him; hardly had I finished the words than I saw Him standing there.

“ ‘I have not come to comfort you, Josefa,’ He said, ‘but to let you share My suffering. Can you not see how that thorn pierces My Heart? Draw it out; that soul is almost forcing My justice to act.’ ”

The salvation of that soul was to cost Josefa a great deal of suffering. Gradually Our Lord was initiating her into His redemptive work, which later was to occupy so great a part of her life. He continued:

“ ‘The sins of mankind wound Me deeply, but not nearly so much as those of My religious. That thorn is a religious on whom I have bestowed many talents. She appropriates them . . . her pride will be her ruin.’

“That evening I saw His Heart all on fire, the Wound gaping wide, and still that thorn was there. ‘I have two measures for every soul,’ He said, ‘one is of mercy, and already it has overflowed . . . the other is of justice, and it is very nearly full. Nothing grieves Me more than the obstinacy and resistance of this soul. . . . I will make a last appeal to her heart; if she still resists, I will leave her to her own devices.’

“Here I do not know what He made me understand . . . but I would give my life to save that soul.

“As I had permission to make a Holy Hour that evening, I offered myself in union with His Passion. ‘Do not look at the sins of that soul, but rather at the Blood that Thou hast shed for it . . . and which can cleanse all the sins of the whole world.’

“Then I said the litanies of Our Lady and repeated many times, ‘Refuge of sinners, pray for us.’ When I got to the words ‘Lamb of God who takest away the sins of the world . . . ’ my soul was filled with anguish. Jesus was silent; He did not seem to be listening; He seemed deaf.

“At the end of the Holy Hour He came, His Heart still pierced by that thorn. I implored Him to have mercy on that soul, and as He did not answer, I said: ‘But Lord, wilt Thou not forgive her? . . . ’ ‘I will touch her heart once again, and if she responds she will be the beloved of My Heart. If she still holds out, My justice must act.’ ”

Many days went by, Josefa’s offerings were more and more costly, but as she said, her soul was plunged in unspeakable sadness.

“I think that never before have I understood as I do now what is meant by resistance to grace. I seem to endure something of the grief of the Heart of Jesus when a soul turns away from Him.

“If you are ready to suffer,” said Our Lord to her on Wednesday, August 18th, “I will wait for that soul, but unless she herself wills to be forgiven, I cannot pardon her. She was created without her cooperation, but she is free to save or lose her soul.”

“A few days later He added: ‘When I find a soul that is loving and wants to comfort Me, I am ready to grant whatever she asks, so I will wait, and knock again at the door of her heart; if she is willing, My Heart is ready to forgive.’

“His words left me in agony. He has taught me to repeat often: My God, I will suffer for love of Thee, and to comfort Thy Sacred Heart.”

Josefa was oppressed by the suffering she was undergoing, she felt as if the divine anger had fallen on her.

Our Lord’s calls pursued her and left her no rest either day or night. The weight of that soul was heavy on her own, without, however, lessening her desire for reparation.

On Wednesday, the 25th of August, after a night of agony and supplication, Josefa, ever faithful to her morning’s meditation, began it with the other novices.

“Suddenly,” she wrote, “I saw Him. . . . He, the all-beautiful. . . . I cannot attempt to describe Him. He was standing upright, vested in white, He held His Heart in His hands, as in a brazier of fire. His whole Person shone with radiant light. His hair was like spun gold, His eyes like brilliants, and His countenance . . . what can I say . . . I can find no comparison worthy of It. . . . His Heart surmounted by the cross no longer had any thorn in It. The wound which was open wide, emitted flames . . . a very sun. . . . From the wounds in His hands and feet also came bright flames. . . . From time to time He opened and extended His arms; all I could say, was, O Jesus! how beautiful Thou art . . . how hearts would be ravished could they behold Thee . . . and the thorn? . . . ‘The thorn? . . . It is gone, for there is nothing so strong as love, and that I find among my religious.’

“His Heart was kindling more and more. I thanked Him for having drawn me to this Society, and begged Him to have compassion on me who am a miserable creature and unworthy to be here: O Lord, do not permit me to be the one blot on this holy group of consecrated souls. Do not allow the graces I receive to be my condemnation, for there is no evil of which I am not capable; I want to be faithful or to die.”

It was in this new joy that a few minutes later Josefa assisted at Mass, associating herself with the thanksgiving of the Blessed Virgin.

“After Communion I asked Him to consecrate me His true spouse by fidelity . . . but to leave me in the common way, for I should never be able to correspond to His graces.

“ ‘Leave yourself in My hands, Josefa. I will use you as seems best to Me. What of your littleness and weakness . . . no matter . . . All I ask of you is to love and console Me. I want you to know how dearly My Heart loves you, how great are the riches it contains, and you must be like soft wax that I may mold you to My liking.

“ ‘Listen . . . I want you to offer Me all, even the smallest things, so as to comfort My Heart’s sufferings, especially those I have to endure from consecrated souls in religion. I want you to rest in My Heart without any fear. Gaze on it; cannot this flame burn up all your imperfections? Leave yourself entirely in My hands and be busy only in pleasing Me.’

“ ‘I want you to tell Reverend Mother in all simplicity whatever I ask of you, and you must have no personal care as to how they use you. Lastly, I repeat: be like soft wax, to which I can give any shape I please. . . . Remember that I am your Father, your Spouse, your God.’

“Then He vanished. Never had I seen Him so beautiful!

“All this time I was able to talk to Him and listen to Him because I had leave. But from today onward I have been ordered to make no more account of these things, and not to answer anything.”
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre


Part III. JOSEFA UNDER TRIAL August 26th–October 8th, 1920

I will give a sign in you.” (Our Lord to Josefa, September 20th, 1920)

TOWARDS the end of August 1920, in order to try the spirit that actuated Josefa, she was forbidden to have any communication with the apparition that had so often filled her heart with such joy. She was told to turn away, and to attach no importance to anything she might see or hear.

Was doubt beginning to creep in? Her soul was thereby profoundly unsettled, and she asked herself if she had not all along been the sport of illusion, as others seemed to think. Moreover, the devil had already suggested this to her many times, and she had rejected it as a temptation, so as to remain faithful to what she deemed God’s Will in her regard. Oh, where was the truth?

At the same time her mind was tortured by the fear that this path which she had neither sought nor wanted might eventually become an obstacle to her vocation. Her instinctive horror of all that was out of the ordinary, her genuine wish for a life hidden and humble, added to her present confusion of mind.

Already accustomed to the most intimate self-sacrifice and matured by her spirit of faith and obedience, she never hesitated to do as she was told, without allowing herself either to reason or to argue interiorly, and so she entered on the obscure path where her love was to suffer so keenly, as her notes indicate:

“Thursday, September 2nd, I saw at meditation the same Person, so beautiful, with His Heart as before. He asked me twice if I loved Him. I gave no answer, out of obedience, although it cost me immensely, for in spite of myself, my whole soul bounded forward towards Him.”

On September 5th Josefa was in the Noviceship . . .

“When suddenly,” she said, “I saw a brilliant light, in the midst of which was the Person as always with a Heart all on fire. I was so frightened that I fled to our Blessed Mother’s cell. I rubbed my eyes and asperged myself all over with Holy Water, but the Vision remained.

“ ‘Why are you afraid?’ said a voice. ‘Do you not know that this is the abode of your peace?’ A few minutes passed, then the voice added: ‘Do not forget that I want you to be a victim of My love.’ Then all was quiet again.”

The trial continued day after day, Josefa resisting and making no response, but sometimes she was unable to withdraw from an overwhelming attraction—it dominated her, filled her with happiness and heavenly peace.

“ ‘Come,’ said the voice, ‘enter in . . . lose yourself in this abyss.’ ”

On Wednesday, September 8th, towards evening, she was praying in the cell of Saint Madeleine Sophie, when like a flash of lightning the burning Heart of Jesus passed before her and she heard: “Which do you prefer, My Will or yours?’

“I understood that to be the answer to what I was asking of Our Lord with all my heart; to be a good religious, solely occupied in loving His Divine Heart, but following common life, for I am so afraid all those things will be an obstacle to my vocation.”

Next day, the 9th, at Mass, she saw Him whom for so long she had never doubted. In one hand He held His Heart, and with the other He offered her a chalice:

“I have heard your distress,” He said to her. “I know your desires, but I cannot grant them. My love needs to rest in you. Take this Blood which has flowed from My Heart. It is the source of love. Do not fear, and do not abandon Me. I delight in living in you, for so many turn away from Me.”

Josefa remained silent . . .

“But,” she wrote, “I could not help thinking: My God, if I had known, I should never have come here! The idea tormented me, for I thought that if I had stayed in the world, nothing of all this would have happened, and every day my anxiety increased. I will surely go backward, unless God keeps me faithful to Him. But I feel myself bound in a way I cannot understand and the love of my vocation grows and grows. That is what makes me constantly beg the Heart of Jesus to leave me to common life, I mean, with none of these extraordinary happenings, even if it be with no consolation whatever, if that were His Will, provided I can remain faithful in little things and love His Adorable Heart above measure.”

This Heart again showed Itself to her on September 16th. She heard:

‘To satisfy a love so great, you must try to find souls for Me. You will do so by suffering and by love. You will have to bear many humiliations, but do not be afraid, for you are in My Heart.’

In the face of doubt, she tried to close her eyes, but was unable to distract her mind from the urge to love God which daily increased in her soul.

“The only comfort I can get is in incessantly telling Him of my love,” she wrote; “it detaches me from the things of earth. The ardent love I used to have for my family and for many others, though still there, has changed . . . nothing of it all can fill my heart now. When I say even unconsciously: ‘My God I love Thee’; it satisfies me and helps me to do what otherwise would be impossible.

“Sometimes I am distracted when at work; then suddenly the Heart of Jesus passes before me like a flash, and rekindles the flame of love in my heart.”

The crucifying trial increased in severity as time went on, and Josefa’s fears grew, but her spirit of obedience kept her faithful, and it gradually became evident how Our Lord, by detaching her from created things, was attaching her more and more to Himself.

On Friday, September 17th, He showed Himself to her at Mass. His face was sad, His hands bound, the crown of thorns encircled His head, and His Heart as always was on fire. He offered her a cross which she had not at first noticed.

“ ‘Behold the Cross that I give you,’ He said. ‘Will you refuse it?’

“I was in anguish at not being able to answer,” she wrote, “for in spite of myself my heart went out to Him. I burn with longing to love Him; but I am not sure that it is really Himself, and this fills me with acute distress. What I now ask is that once and for all these things should cease.”

But He came again:

“On Sunday, the 19th, during my prayer, I was turning over in my mind how to love Him more, for I can think of nothing else. Suddenly I saw Him. His Heart was like a great conflagration . . . the Heart that fills me with peace, and makes me able to bear anything.”

“ ‘If you love me,’ He said, ‘I shall always remain near you. If you follow Me closely, I shall grant you victory over the foe; I shall manifest Myself to you, and teach you how to love.’ ”

The next day, the 20th, while her mind was still preoccupied with the same trouble, she begged Our Lord to give a sign to her Superiors, that they might know for certain whether or not these things came from Him.

He appeared suddenly and said to her: “A sign? I will give a sign in you. All I ask of you is to surrender yourself entirely to Me.”

Oratory near the door of the chapel at Les Feuillants, dedicated to Our Lady under the title of Mater Admirabilis. In Convents of the Sacred Heart copies of the miraculous fresco painted on the wall of the cloister in the Trinita-dei-Monti at Rome are specially honored.

And so it came to pass, for God was imprinting His sign on the docile and generous heart of Josefa, whose obedience throughout this trial was a proof in itself. In spite of the divine advances, she continued to keep silence. But there came a day . . .

“When,” she wrote on September 27th, “I cannot say what happened. I found myself obliged to surrender, and give myself up to God’s demands, and I was only able to say: ‘Yes, Lord, I am Thine; whatever Thou willest, I also will.’ At the same moment I saw Jesus in all His beauty, and He said: ‘Have no fear. It is I.’ ”

On Friday, the 29th, she saw Him once more, when again He asked her: “Are you ready to do My Will?”

“My God,” she wrote, “I deliver myself over into Thy hands to do whatever is Thy Will, if really it is Thyself. All I ask is that I should not be in delusion and that nothing should prejudice my religious life.

“Then He answered: ‘What is there to fear, if you are in My hands? Never doubt the goodness of My Heart, nor the love I bear you.’ A flame escaped from His Sacred Heart and wrapped me round. ‘All I ask of you is that you should always be ready to console My Heart, whenever I call on you. The comfort given Me by one faithful soul compensates for the coldness and indifference of so many others. You will sometimes feel in your heart the anguish that is in Mine, and that is how you will allay My sorrow. Fear nothing, I am with you.’ ”

But even so she was not fully reassured, and when the presence had left her and she was once more alone she was again a prey to very great distress. Tossed between an attraction that was at times irresistible and fear of the abnormal, and bound to silence by obedience, she implored Our Lord to leave her to the simple and common life that her love ambitioned, or to give light to her Superiors that would put an end to so many doubts and so much suffering.

She whom no one ever invokes in vain was to come to Josefa’s aid.

In the evening of Sunday, October 3rd, the Mother Assistant guessed from Josefa’s face of acute agony all that the poor novice was going through, and she sent her to bed early. In the lonely little dormitory where she could not find relief in sleep she prayed to Our Lady.

“I recited the litanies of Our Lady,” she wrote, “then with all my heart I prayed, telling her with anguish what I had been saying for many days past: ‘O Mother, for the love of God, do not let me be deluded, and make me know whether it is all true or not.’

“At once I heard a light footstep, as of somebody coming, and then I saw, standing by my bedside, a person clothed in white and wrapped in a long veil. Her features were very fine, her hands crossed; she looked at me very tenderly and said: ‘My child, you are not mistaken, and Reverend Mother will soon know it, but you must first suffer if you are to win souls for my Son.’

“She disappeared, leaving me in peace beyond all words.”

It was the Queen of Heaven, and Josefa never doubted it for a minute, but Mary had said “you must suffer,” and Josefa was being asked to give her consent freely to an appeal to cooperate in redemptive suffering.

The following day, October 4th, Our Lord, showing her His wounded Heart, said: “Look at the state to which unfaithful souls have reduced My Heart. They do not know how much I love them, and that is why they forsake Me. Will not you at least do My Will?” A flood of apprehension overwhelmed her soul.

“I did not answer,” she wrote honestly, “but everything within me said No. He disappeared. I felt I must have displeased Him, for He vanished like a flash.

“Next day, October 5th, while I was saying the litanies of Our Lady, she came again, stayed quite a long time and then said to me: ‘If you refuse to do my Son’s Will, you will wound His Heart. Consent to everything He asks of you, but do not attribute anything to yourself. Be very humble, child!’ She looked at me with great compassion, then went away.”

From now on Our Lady, full of tender compassion and strong kindness, intervenes in Josefa’s life. Her Son’s part is paramount, she helps only when there is question of reassuring Josefa in her faltering hesitations, of strengthening her in her fears, or of bringing her will into line with God’s. She acts as a warning, sometimes as a support; she initiates her into Our Lord’s plans and prepares her for His coming; she teaches her how to guard against the snares of the devil and how to repair her failings. She, “as an army set in array,” is there to defend her in the perilous combats with the evil one.

This intervention of Our Lady increased in the eyes of Superiors the light beginning to dawn around Josefa; her simple and courageous obedience, her indifference and abandonment, as well as her humble distrust of herself, her fear of an abnormal path, and above all her love of her vocation, which she held in higher esteem than anything else in the world—all pointed to a heavenly origin in her state; and these signs could not be opposed indefinitely. The time seemed to have come to allow full liberty to the divine action, whilst still surrounding Josefa with vigilant control. She was given permission to “offer herself,” and that in spite of her acute repugnance to it.

“On Friday, October 8th,” she wrote, “at Meditation, I made an act of conformity to the Divine Will. During Mass, a little before the Gospel, I saw Our Lady. I begged her intercession; I told her why I felt such repugnance for those graces, but that I had quite made up my mind to accept all to glorify the Heart of Jesus, to console Him and to win souls for Him. I think she had pity on me, for she said: ‘My child, this is the prayer you must say to Our Lord, and His Heart will not resist: “O Father, make me worthy to accomplish Thy Holy Will, for I belong to Thee.” ‘

“Then she added: ‘If you are in the hands of a good Father, what more do you want?’

“I implored her to receive my offering and to carry it herself to Jesus.

“That same evening when I went to the chapel I found myself suddenly in Our Lord’s presence.

“His face was so beautiful, His Heart encircled with flames; in the midst, in front of the Cross, was an open book. I did not understand what it signified. . . . I offered myself once more and promised never to take back my gift. He placed His hand on my head and said: ‘If you do not forsake Me, neither will I desert you. Henceforth, Josefa, call me nothing but Father and Spouse. If you are faithful, we shall make this pact together: Bride and Bridegroom, espoused to one another, you Mine, and I yours. And now write what you read in My Heart; it sums up all I want of you.’

“Then I read in the book:

“ ‘I shall be the one love of your heart, the sweet torture of your soul, and the welcome martyrdom of your body.

“ ‘You shall be the victim of My Heart through a bitter dislike for all that is not Me; victim of My soul by all the anguish of which yours is capable; victim of My body, by the denial of all that could satisfy yours, and by your hatred of the flesh which is both criminal and cursed.

La señal, la dare en ti. Lo que quiero es que te abandones a Mi.”

“When I had read the book, He made me kiss it, and then He disappeared.”
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre


PART I. FIRST STEPS October 9th–28th, 1920

Your misery attracts Me.” (Our Lord to Josefa, October 15th, 1920)

HUMANLY speaking, one might expect that so luminously mapped-out a path would have offered Josefa neither obstacles nor shadows. This would be to forget God’s ways with souls He has specially chosen: He draws them, and then hides Himself—He attracts, then baffles them—He fills them with gifts and next leaves them to their native poverty. He carries them in His arms, and then allows them to fall back into nerveless weakness. These are the searching alternatives that confirm them in detachment, abandonment, and humility, and alone can convince the creature of its nothingness, placing the instrument passive and quiescent in His divine hands.

Josefa’s notes acquaint us with these vicissitudes, and their moving simplicity and candid sincerity make of them a document of real importance.

From the very first she had been put under obedience to write down all she saw and heard. To begin with, this was a kind of relief to her feelings, but whereas she then threw on paper with burning and naive diffuseness the sentiments she felt incapable of keeping to herself, later she became aware that these notes which she believed to be for herself alone would become a necessary means of control in the hands of her guides, and her habitual self-diffidence and the reserve that had always surrounded her relations with Our Lord reasserted themselves in her writings.

She sacrificed her repugnance by obeying the injunction, but her acceptance was not free from struggle and some wavering, as her notes bear witness, even to the end. Her style changes from now on, and becomes very sober, facts alone are briefly mentioned. We rarely meet with the outpourings of the earlier days, but what is very characteristic is that she never fails to recount her own weaknesses and vacillations, nor her occasional resistance in the face of some particularly crucifying event. No doubt Our Lord meant us to learn from these honest acknowledgments how great is His compassion and how untiring His mercy.

Before recording the contents of Josefa’s notebooks it may be well to answer the perfectly legitimate question as to how in general they were written.

From the very beginning of her supernatural intercourse Josefa had been told to ask permission before entering into communication with her celestial visitors, and to give an account of what had passed immediately afterwards. She submitted to this control, which cost her nature very much. This gave her Superiors the possibility of writing down these divine appearances at once, noting the place and time of these messages, in the very words which she used to repeat, as if still under the ascendency of an invisible presence.

In this manner Our Lord’s words were accurately recorded—words of which He had said that none of them were to be lost.

“Let us here note once and for all that Josefa never had to translate into human language visions, locutions, or interior promptings. It seemed to her that Our Lord was manifesting His thought and wishes in the direct form of human words which she believed that she perceived in a sensible way, and which she had only to transcribe in the very same terms.

It may be added that fully occupied as her days were by household work, obliged to ask leave before each meeting and to give a full account of it immediately after, Josefa never had time to invent, prepare, or make up her narrative; these conditions necessarily excluded any premeditation on her part and so stamped all she recorded with a further mark of veracity. However, the Church alone has power and authority to pronounce with greater certainty on this matter.”

During her days of laborious work which left her little leisure Josefa was glad to hand over her papers to the secure keeping of her Superiors. When in the evening her labors were at an end, or during the freer hours of Sunday, she knew that the transcription of her notes was expected of her as part of her obedience. Leaving her needle, her sewing-machine or her broom, as the case might be, she went to her cell to complete this task, which always cost her a great deal. There, oftenest kneeling before a small table, she re-copied in her rapid if unskilled writing the notes that had been left in the care of her Mothers. The only additions she made were of facts which formed the setting to Our Lord’s words, a few heartfelt comments and a more detailed avowal of her failings.

All these precious documents have been religiously preserved.

The principal facts of Josefa’s life were published in 1938 in Un Appel à l’Amour, but the wish to know more than this slight biography revealed was expressed by many. The time seems to have come to give Josefa’s writings more fully to a wider public. Perhaps this is also the best way of fulfilling the wishes of the Divine Heart. He wants the riches of His love and mercy to be known. He wants souls to understand to what an extent He condescends to live their ordinary life with them, so as to transform it into “days of divine life”; He thirsts for a union which our frailty need not interrupt, and above all He longs to let souls know how certain they are of His forgiveness, for all their weakness. But if He seeks their love and trust to this extent, it is because He wants to associate them with Himself by total surrender, that they may with Him carry out His work of love and redemption.

All this imprinted itself day by day and hour by hour on the life of Sister Josefa. If Our Lord imposed on her the duty of writing down in detail all He said to her, certainly it was not for her own benefit, since it entailed nothing but sacrifice. It was in order that many souls might gather from these pages the lessons and appeals of His Heart.

Since October 8th, the day on which she made her offering, Josefa had recovered her peace of soul, together with divine light. Her work had in no way been modified throughout this difficult period, and when Our Lord wanted her He always found her at her duties.

“Today, October 15th, “He said to me: ‘Your misery attracts Me. What would you do without Me? Do not forget that the lowlier you become, the nearer I shall be to you. Let Me do as I please.’ ”

That same morning Josefa had renewed her act of total surrender into His hands by way of preparation for her Communion. No sooner had she done so than Jesus appeared and said: “I forgive you all; you are the price of My blood, and I intend to use you to save the many souls that have cost Me so dear; do not refuse Me anything. See how much I love you.”

“As He said these words He enveloped me in the flame of His Heart and gave me great courage, for now I am no longer afraid of suffering; my one wish is to do His Will.”

The Blessed Virgin strengthened her a few moments later:

“ ‘My daughter,’ she said, ‘you will never forsake my Son, will you?’

“ ‘No, Mother, never.’

“ ‘Do not be afraid of suffering, for you will always be given sufficient strength to bear it. Think of this: you have only today in which to suffer and love . . . eternity will be all joy.’

“I begged her not to desert me, but to obtain for me from Jesus the fidelity I need. Then I asked her forgiveness, and she answered:

“ ‘Have no fear, Josefa; leave yourself in the hands of Jesus and constantly repeat this prayer: “O Father, merciful and good, look upon Thy child, and make her so entirely Thine own, that she may lose herself in Thy Heart. May her one desire, O Father, be to accomplish Thy holy Will.” This prayer will please Him, for He wants nothing so much as surrender, and thus you will comfort His Heart. Do not fear, abandon yourself. I will help you.’

“It seems to me,” commented Josefa, “that all that made me braver, and as I have now given myself over entirely into God’s hands, nothing else matters.

“On the evening of Saturday, October 16th, I asked Him why He gave me so many totally undeserved graces. During my adoration I saw Him crowned with thorns and He gave me this answer: ‘Have I asked you to merit the graces I give you? What I ask is that you should accept them. I will show you the School in which this lesson can be learned.’ ”

This School was about to open for Josefa.

“The very next day, October 17th,” wrote Josefa, “I saw Him just as He was yesterday, His Heart all aflame and the Wound even wider. I adored Him with deep respect and asked Him to kindle a fire of love in my heart. He said: ‘This is the School where you will acquire the knowledge of complete renunciation, and thus I shall be able to do with you what I will.’ ”

Josefa made a beginning in this science of all sciences; she had yet to learn how to make a complete surrender of herself to her Master, which would leave Him free to use her as He wished.

Two days of great loneliness of soul went by. She asked herself whether she had perhaps displeased Him. . . . She appealed to Him. . . . He came. . . .

“ ‘I love to hear you calling Me; I thirst so for love.’

“As He said these words, I understood that I had not so much as begun to love Him. I asked Him to teach me how to love Him. He made me listen to the beating of His Heart; then He said: ‘If you are resolved to be faithful, I will pour into your heart the flood of My mercy and you will know what My love for you is. But always remember that if I love you it is because you are little, not because you are good.’ ”

Many a time this lesson of humility would be repeated, and while Our Lord enkindled in her heart a most vehement love of Himself, He constantly reminded her of her utter insignificance on the one hand, and on the other of the souls for whom He thirsts.

“Today at my prayer,” she wrote, on Thursday October 21st, “I asked Him that souls may love Him, and I said: ‘If it is love that Thou askest, Lord, attract many souls to this Society, for here they will learn to love Thy Heart.’

“During my thanksgiving, first I saw His Heart surrounded with thorns and with flames, which I take to be love; then I saw Him, extending His arms.

This divine gesture of outstretched arms has already been noted by Josefa, and was to be repeated many times; it would seem to be significant of Our Lord’s appeal to the whole world through His Messenger. That is why this attitude of the Montmartre Statue with Heart inflamed and Arms open wide has been selected as the most suitable in representing and illustrating the Message of the Heart of Jesus.

He said: ‘Yes, Josefa, all I ask of souls is their love, but they give Me only ingratitude; I should like to fill their souls with grace, but they pierce My Heart through and through. I call them and they turn away from Me . . . if you accept, I will give you charge of souls, and by your sacrifices and love, you will win them for Me.’
“As He said these words, He again drew me close to His Heart; I heard Its mysterious beating; the sound filled me with a kind of agony. Then He went on to say: ‘You know very well that I want you to be the victim of My love, but I will never leave you without help. Surrender yourself entirely to Me.’ ”

On Saturday, October 23rd, in a way peculiarly His own, He told her that her whole life was to be a dwelling in love as in its appropriate atmosphere. Josefa was working in the linen-room when suddenly He stood before her. There happened to be a great press of work at the moment, and she asked Him to allow her to remain at her task, at the same time begging Him to forgive her for the liberty she was taking. . . .

“ ‘For I would not willingly pain Thee, my Jesus’ . . . but He at once vanished. I was rather sorry for having said that to Him, and to comfort Him I kept on telling Him how I loved Him.”

That evening she was on her way to the third story to close some windows, and as she walked along she constantly murmured her love for Him the thought of Whom never left her. “Suddenly as I reached the top-story corridor,” she wrote, “I saw Him coming to meet me from the other end.”

Jesus was surrounded with light so radiant and so lovely that it lit up an otherwise dark passage. He walked rapidly, as if eager to meet her.

“ ‘Where do you come from?’

“ ‘I have been closing the windows, Lord.’

“ ‘And where are you going?’

“ ‘I am going to finish doing so, my Jesus.’

“ ‘That is not the way to answer, Josefa.’

“I did not understand what He meant, and He continued: ‘I come from love and I go to love. Whether you go up or down, you are ever in My Heart, for it is an abyss of love. I am with you.’

“As He disappeared, He left me in such joy that it is quite indescribable.”

This exquisite little incident is remembered at Poitiers, for the dark passage goes by the name of The Corridor of Love.

But rare were the moments of consolation in Josefa’s history at this period; she had to learn by experience what was the true significance of self-surrender and the value of souls.

“Wednesday, October 27th, during my evening adoration, she wrote, He came again and said: ‘I want you to save souls. . . . Look at the fire of My Heart; it is the craving to save them that will burn up yours.’

“ ‘You will gain them by your offerings. Stay still in My Heart and fear nothing.’ ”

The day after He again appeared to her in the dolorous condition which made her write:

“Oh, how sorry I felt for Him. . . . He looked at me in such a way that I realized that my pain was but a shadow of His. I then saw behind Him an interminable file of souls, and looking at me significantly He said: ‘All these are waiting for you . . . you are free in your choice, Josefa, but if you truly love Me, you will not be afraid.’

“I again murmured how afraid I was these things might be noticed.

“ ‘What matter if they are? If so you can give glory to My Heart.’

“ ‘But I am only a novice, Lord!’

“ ‘I know that quite well, but only be faithful, and nothing of this will harm you. Do not fear.’

“Then I offered myself to His service, to be used just as He wills. ”

‘Yes, I shall make of you a victim, for you must resemble Me if you are to be My Bride, and can you not see what I am like?’

“I have not seen Him again since then.”
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre


PART II. DAILY PRECEPTS AND FORGIVENESS October 22nd–December 18th, 1920

I will seek you in your nothingness, to unite you to Myself.” (Our Lord to Josefa, November 8th, 1920)

JOSEFA’S offering was to carry her still further on the way marked out for her by Our Lord.

More than ever she came to know experimentally what courage and confidence the Divine Will was to ask of her.

“I am so tempted, so cold, so unsettled,” she wrote at the end of October, “that my vocation seems to have vanished—no faith left, all is black, and I so unfeeling. I offer this suffering to console His Heart and win Him souls, but this very thought continually brings to my mind what a life of infidelity I have led. When I see what I myself am, it seems presumption to pray for others. How helpless I am!”

It seemed to be Our Lord’s will to leave her to herself for a while; though this abandonment was only apparent and nothing abnormal in the spiritual life. Coming as it did after the familiarities of love she had experienced shortly before, it threw her soul into a kind of confused distress to which she was as yet unaccustomed. Nevertheless, she reacted bravely and never ceased affirming a love which it was her determination to maintain faithfully, come what might.

“O my God,” she wrote, “I want to comfort Thy Heart . . . though I see nothing and feel nothing, yet I believe in Thee and I love Thee, and needless to add, I call on Our Blessed Lady all the time.”

A week passed, but the temptation grew as time went on . . . on Saturday, November 6th, Josefa woke up convinced that nothing was of any avail and that her vocation was lost. She tried hard to make acts of faith and trust.

“In the midst of this storm,” she wrote, “I was able to repeat only these words: ‘Jesus, Jesus, forsake me not.’

“My time of prayer was spent in this way. Then Mass; I went to Holy Communion, but could only call on Jesus to help me, and say over and over again: ‘I believe that Thou art in the depths of my soul, O my God—indeed I believe it!’ Suddenly I heard His answering voice: ‘I am there!’

“At once peace returned to my tortured soul, and I saw Him. He was wearing His Crown of Thorns, and some little streamlets of blood coursed down His face. His Wound was wide open and His hands pointed to His Heart. ‘O my Jesus, how lonely Thou hast left me . . . and for so long . . . and I was so tempted.’

“ ‘When I leave you so cold,’ He said, ‘I am using your warmth to give heat to other souls. When I leave you a prey to anguish, your suffering wards off divine justice when it is about to strike sinners. When it seems to you as if you did not love Me and yet you tell Me unceasingly that you do, then you console My Heart most. That is what I want: that you should be ready to comfort My Heart every time I need you.’

“I told Him that what most troubles me is the fear of having offended Him, for He knows well enough that I do not mind pain.

“ ‘Come, Josefa, do not be afraid, for you are never alone. . . . The lowlier and the more humble you are, the more you must be kept safe.’ ”

In the face of such divine assurances, Josefa could but repeat how feeble she knew herself to be, how great was her love, how whole-hearted her surrender. . . .

“I begged Him to give me the virtues I lack, especially humility. He interrupted me: ‘I possess humility for your pride.’

“ ‘I am such a coward, so weak when I have to suffer . . . ’

“ ‘Am I not strength itself?’

“Finally, I offered myself, keeping nothing back.

“ ‘That is well said, Josefa: nothing for yourself . . . you all for Me . . . and I all for you. When I leave you alone and in agony, accept My Will, and abandon yourself to Love.’ ”

The next day, the Master of love further insisted, and repeated whilst showing Himself to her during her prayer (November 7th).

“ ‘Tell me that you love Me; that is what I like best to hear.’

“I answered that there was nothing that I wanted more than to love Him and that all other things called forth in me but a shadow of love.”

“ ‘Yes, keep for Me the heart I have given you and seek for nothing but love. That is My wish. My Heart longs to burn and consume hearts in the glow of Its fervent love.”

Jesus made known to her at the same time what were the exigencies of a love so impassioned as to consume gradually all that was still alive and imperfect in her nature. Her smallest faults seemed to her to be real infidelities, and in her self-reproach she continually implored forgiveness.

“On Monday, November 8th, while I was sweeping the stairs, I was telling Him how sorry I was for a stirring of impatience to which I had yielded in the morning, and which gave me great remorse. Near the bottom of the staircase I saw Him before me and He seemed to be searching for something. I finished the sweeping, then I followed Him to the Noviceship, and there He said to me: ‘You must not grieve overmuch at your falls.

The falls to which Our Lord refers are the simple imperfections that she reproaches herself of as infidelities.

Why, I could make a saint of you without more ado, but what I do ask of you is that you should never hold out against My Will. Do what I ask you to do. Humble yourself, I will seek you out in your nothingness, and unite you to Myself.’ ”
Such clear directives throw ample light on the path Our Lord had chosen for Josefa. Humility was to make it secure and obedience would be her guiding star.

“ ‘If I give you these graces, it is because I trust in your fidelity and obedience to Myself and to Reverend Mother who represents Me. Abandon yourself to My care; I want you to become the victim of divine justice and the solace of My Love. I will immolate you, but with arrows of love. I will take you prisoner, but with cords of love. Fear nothing. You are deep down in My Heart. Abandon yourself to Me.’ ”

This divine action on her soul was one of trial, and all Josefa saw was her own frailty. Ten days of brave struggle followed, in which she fought through costly efforts to overcome long, obscure, and difficult temptations from within and without. “However,” she commented on Friday, November 19th, “I do not think I offended Him, though the temptations were many.”

Notwithstanding, when Jesus appeared to her during her adoration that evening, with His Heart torn and lacerated, she exclaimed:

“ ‘O my Jesus, is it I that have thus wounded Thy Heart?’

“He did not let me finish: ‘It is not you, Josefa, but the coldness of those souls who make no return for My love. If you could but understand My sadness that My love meets with no return.’

“His Heart then became a living flame.

“ ‘See what your loving heart does to Mine, for though you feel cold and imagine you no longer love Me, it holds back My justice from punishing sinners. One single act of love in the loneliness in which I leave you repairs for many of the acts of ingratitude of which I am the object. My Heart counts and collects these acts of your love as a precious balm.’ ”

Her anguish was dispelled in the flame that blazed from the divine Wound, and even at times invested her.

“I prayed to Him for all those souls, begging of Him to make many of them know the goodness of His Heart and love Him.

“ ‘It pleases Me to see you famished for My love and burnt up with longing to see Me loved. That by itself is consolation to My Heart. Yes, pray for the souls of which I have given you charge. A few more sacrifices, and they will return to Me.’ ”

On Saturday, November 20th, He came to her, as a beggar, destitute and asking for love.

“Many little wounds were lacerating His Heart,” she wrote.

“ ‘Tell Me, would you not attempt the impossible to comfort Me, Josefa? . . . Share with Me for a moment the bitterness of My Heart.’

“Then helpless distress seemed to overpower my soul. He was still there, and gradually His Heart lit up, and all His wounds disappeared.

“ ‘Listen,’ He said, ‘I want you to give Me souls. Only love in all you do is required. Suffer because you love, work because you love, and above all abandon yourself to love. When I let you feel anguish of spirit and great loneliness, suffer in love. I want to make use of you as a tired man uses a stick to lean upon. . . . I want to possess you, to consume you entirely, but all in great sweetness, so that enduring a martyrdom of love, you thirst to suffer more.’ ”

These visits always brought pain to Josefa, but though they at times baffled her, they never tired her generosity. “For the last few days,” she wrote, “my soul is as it were immersed in fear, and weighed down by God’s Justice . . . shall I ever emerge from this abyss?”

Our Lord sustained her, nevertheless, and He made Himself manifest to her during Mass, on Sunday, November 21st.

“ ‘I come to rest in you, for I am so little loved,’ He said. ‘I am in search of love and meet only with thankless neglect. Rare are the souls that truly love Me.’

“I asked Him if this Noviceship did not comfort Him a little. Then to console Him, I offered Him the love of Our Lady, of the Saints, of all faithful souls, and even mine.

“ ‘Yes, Josefa, love Me and never tire of telling Me of your love.’ ”

She obeyed His instructions with all her heart, in spite of the dark night of desolation into which it was His Will to plunge her.

“I tried,” she wrote next day, “to say over and over again ‘My Jesus I love Thee.’

“ ‘And so do I love you,’ she heard Him answer during her prayer.

“He came with no radiance round Him, looking like a beggar; I was silent. But as He continued to gaze sadly at me I ventured to speak, and I told Him how much I longed to comfort Him.

“ ‘Yes, do comfort Me, today; I will stay beside you all the time, so that you may not forget.’

“At the end of my prayer, as He did not go away, I said to Him: ‘Lord, it is time for me to go to my sweeping, but Thou knowest that I love Thee, and that all I do is done solely to please Thee.’

“Twice in the course of my work He asked me again whether I loved Him. ‘Say it often, to make up for the forgetfulness of so many.’ ”

That day, Monday, November 22nd, she spent entirely in that divine company.

“He stayed all the time,” wrote Josefa; “we were not separated a single instant. From time to time He stopped me in my work, and once while I was sweeping the old cloister of Les Feuillants, with its primitive tiled pavement, He asked: ‘Why are you doing that?’

“He seemed to take delight in the answer He forecast: ‘Lord, I do it because I love Thee. See all the tiles of this corridor—as many times I say: I love Thee, Lord.’ ”

Later on she had to go and fetch some coal from the garden:

“ ‘What are you going to do?’

“ ‘I am going to try and prove my love for Thee, by all these little things.’

“He went on: ‘Many souls think that love consists in saying: My God I love Thee. No, love is sweet, and acts because it loves, and all that it does is done out of love. I want you to love Me in that way, in work, in rest, in prayer and consolation as in distress and humiliation, constantly giving Me proofs of your love by acts; that is true love. If souls really understood this they would advance in perfection rapidly, and how greatly they would console My Heart.’ ”

Consciousness of the divine presence made Josefa anxious, lest the novices should notice her absorption when she was at work with them; it seemed to her impossible to give due attention to her work while in the presence of God’s Majesty, which captivated and held her. “O my God!” she cried, “what will become of me? I am afraid of forgetting everything.”

“A little before midday I asked Him if He would go, because I had to serve the children in the refectory.

“ ‘But, dear Lord, indeed I shall not forget Thee, while I do it.’ “Jesus replied: ‘Go and ask Mother what you must do. Tell her that I am with you; let us go together.’ ”

Docile as usual, she went in search of the Mother Assistant, and explained the case; but it was not possible to free her at that moment. She begged her Master’s pardon for the refusal of the request. “It cannot be helped, Josefa, but you have made an act of humility and obedience.”

Life together continued that afternoon. If Our Lord thus made Himself visible to Josefa, was it not that later on the faith of many souls should be revivified, that they should realize His invisible presence through grace which is so much more certain and authentic?

As for Josefa, the simplicity of her faith never rested on these favors; she feared them for herself and thought that those around her were bound to notice them. “Lord, how will all this end?” she said. “Thou seest how difficult I find it to attend to anything but Thy presence; something will be noticed. . . .”

“ ‘Look, Josefa, if a tiny child finds itself at the foot of a steep hill which it has to climb, and its father is at hand, do you think it will be allowed to fall?’

“These words gave me great confidence, and again I abandoned myself into His hands, that He might do with me whatever He willed.”

That evening, Our Lord, who had not left her for a single moment that day, appeared to her during her adoration in the chapel:

“ ‘It gave Me great comfort today,’ He said, ‘that you never left Me, and it was your littleness that pleased Me. I must be present to you always, and the more helpless and lowly you find yourself, the surer you can be that I am pleased with you.’

“ ‘Do not forget that I shall be the divine torment of your whole being, and that you are the victim of My love; but I support you, and will not abandon you, if you are faithful.’

“Then He disappeared.”

However, Our Lord did not allow her to rest in the thought of herself. The grace of His habitual presence had for its evident object to make the instrument He was forging adaptable and ready to His hand that He might use her for the salvation of the world. She was to be ever more occupied with souls.

“The next day, Tuesday November 23rd,” she wrote, “I asked Him to give joy in His service to all the other novices, as He gives it to me.

“He came at once and said: ‘Are you happy in suffering?’

“ ‘Yes, because it is for Thee that I suffer, Lord.’

“ ‘Will you carry the burden of other souls?’

“ ‘Yes, provided they love Thee, Lord.’

“ ‘Well then, you shall suffer because you are the victim of My love, but it must be in love and joy and peace in everything and always.’ ”

One day, about that time, Our Lord said to her: “I will join the fidelity of many other souls to yours.” And for the first time—always in view of souls—He let her share with Him the pain of the Crown of Thorns.

“I was in the little chapel of Saint Stanislaus,”

The cell where Saint Madeleine Sophie used to gather her first novices in 1809, and which had been transformed into a small oratory where the Blessed Sacrament was reserved during part of the year.

—she wrote on Friday, the 26th of November. “He was asking me to comfort Him and I was thinking what I could do.
“ ‘I will leave you My Crown of Thorns for a few minutes, Josefa, and you will see what My suffering is.’

“At that instant I felt my head encircled with thorns, which pierced deep into it.

“Many times this same pain was renewed. So terrible was it that I was about to complain, but He said: ‘Do not complain, for nothing will cure you of this pain; it is a share in My sufferings.’ ”

From that time on the Crown of Thorns became part of Josefa’s life of reparation. Sometimes it signified her union with Our Lord crucified; at others the quota of pain apportioned to her love; at others again the sign of long-desired forgiveness. There would be times when it never left her forehead. But no outward mark of these mysterious mystical sufferings was visible. The pallor of her face, and the sorrowful expression in her eyes, alone betrayed the intensity of her pain. Her bowed head could find no rest either day or night. Efforts at relief could do no more than help her bear her heavy weight of pain. It was a continuation of her apprenticeship to Christ’s redemptive work for which He had selected her. He gradually revealed to her His anxieties about the straying sheep of His fold, and His patient longsuffering which no delays rebut. Towards the end of November He gave into her charge a soul about which she wrote:

“Yesterday He came to the linen-room, where I was working. His Heart was wounded and His countenance was like that of the Ecce Homo.

Latin for “Behold the man.”

“ ‘Till that soul comes back to Me,’ He said, ‘I shall come to ask you for the love she is refusing Me.’

“At about half-past one I followed Him to the dormitory where I sleep, and with profound respect, I adored Him.

“ ‘That you may better understand My sorrow, Josefa,’ He said, ‘I will make you share it.’

“Then my soul became a prey to sadness. Jesus stood there. He was silent. I comforted Him as best I could . . . when He left:

“ ‘You have rested Me,’ He said, ‘because you have given Me love.’

“On Monday, the 29th,” she again wrote, “He said to me during my prayer: ‘I am leaving you My Crown of Thorns and you will offer Me the pain of it for that soul. If she delays, we shall unite our burning longings for her return. And this will solace My Heart.’ ”

But while telling her of His ardent hopes for the return of certain souls, Our Lord allowed her personally to experience the longanimity of His Heart. She knew her frailty, whenever she was left to her own resources.

“Words fail me to express my anguish,” she wrote on the 29th of November. “My soul seems far, far from Him . . . my body exhausted, my courage gone!”

She asked her Master how He could make any use of her in such a state of powerlessness and distress. “What I want,” He answered her, “is that you should live so united to My Heart that nothing whatever can separate you from Me.”

Again He appealed to her generosity:

“ ‘I want to rest in you; do not refuse to give Me what belongs to Me.’

“And there was I so afraid that I should not have time to do my work!

“And I said to Him: ‘Lord, I shall be late for my employment.’

“ ‘Do you not know that I am the Master of your heart and of your whole being?’ ”

Did she really know it? She tried to escape from His appeal . . . Jesus vanished, leaving her to her regrets. Many a time she would fail to take the path He pointed out to her, but these omissions were always followed by fresh forgiveness on His part. It was only through many struggles that she learnt the “science of abandonment.”

Her love of common life would be to her to the very end a cause of repugnance and temptation. Her Master left her this battlefield on which to contend, that (so it would seem) He might have the joy of expending on her His longsuffering mercy.

“I have not seen Him again . . . but I cannot live without Him . . . and since He left me I have never stopped begging Him to forgive me,” she wrote. “Yesterday, December 3rd, after my work, I went to the tribune and knelt before the Blessed Sacrament exposed: O my Jesus, I do not deserve to see Thee, but show me that Thou hast forgiven me. I stayed quite still. Suddenly all the temptations of the last few days vanished, and I felt round my head the Crown of Thorns.”

This was a sign of coming pardon, to be followed by one of those scenes of loving-kindness, so revealing of the Heart of God.

“The next day, Saturday, December 4th, after my Communion, He stood before me, as a Father awaiting His child: ‘Come and tell Me all you are afraid of,’ and showing me His Heart: ‘When you feel unable to bear pain, come here! If you are afraid of being humbled, come here! If you are seized with apprehension, come closer still!’

“I told Him that these graces frighten me, because I do not deserve them. ‘I know you do not deserve them, but I only ask you to accept them.’ ”

So much compassionate kindness filled Josefa with amazement and desire. She would so like to correspond fully to it, and what she calls her ingratitude filled her soul with sorrow. Our Lady came to comfort her:

“She came,” she wrote on Monday, December 6th, “while I was praying for forgiveness and true love.

“ ‘Daughter,’ she said, ‘you must not worry like this; you know all that Jesus is to you. Suffer in silence, but without this mental anguish. Love very much, but without introspection and without even knowing whether you love or not. If you fall, do not be afflicted above measure. We are both here to raise you up, and I will never forsake you.’

“I explained to her that my biggest trouble was that I could not follow common life in everything, and that I was so afraid of drawing attention to myself.

“ ‘Do not forget, Josefa, that it is for souls. If the devil is so desperately determined to make you give it all up, it is because he sees in you, as it were, a rivulet which in its course is going to carry many souls to Jesus.’

“I asked her to bless me and not to leave me all alone, because she can see how weak I am.

“ ‘Yes, I bless and love you.’ ”

The next day, December 7th, that gracious Mother came again:

“ ‘If you want to be a comfort to Jesus, I will tell you what gives Him pleasure: you must offer everything you do for souls, without any personal interest whatever, and act solely for the glory of His Heart.’ ”

And coming down to particulars, she suggested:

“ ‘Till I tell you to stop, say every day nine Aves, with your arms in the form of a cross. You must do this, humbling yourself, and recognizing your nothingness; at the same time adore the Divine Will, and leave your Jesus perfectly free to do exactly what He pleases with you. Confide in His Heart and in me who am your Mother.’ ”

A few minutes later Our Lord Himself once more affirmed the rights which His Mother had pointed out, and reminded Josefa of His plans for her.

“During my thanksgiving, He covered me with the flame of His Heart and said: ‘I want you to leave Me to establish a current between your heart and Mine, in such a way that you are in Me, without living in any way for yourself.’

“He stayed for a few moments in silence, consuming my soul in the glow of that flame, then He added: ‘I want you to help Me by your littleness and helplessness to snatch souls from the enemy who wants to devour them.’

“About midday, He appeared to me with a radiant countenance: ‘Come and rest in Me and share My joy,’ He said, ‘another soul has come back to Me.’ ”

So as she went through a whole series of struggles, obscurities, and humble efforts, Our Lord re-animated her courage by showing her the fruits of her conflicts, and how He availed Himself of them.

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception was approaching, and Our Blessed Lady would not let it pass without lighting it up by her loved presence. As soon as it was daylight, as if in haste to comfort her, she appeared to Josefa.

“ ‘My child,’ she said, ‘never be afraid of suffering or of sacrifice; such are God’s ways. If you want to come out victoriously from the assaults of the devil, pay great attention to two things: first, humble yourself, for you are nothing and deserve nothing . . . everything comes to you as a grace from God. Second, when you feel lonely and given up to temptation, when your soul is cold and you have no courage to go on, do not give up prayer. Pray humbly and confidently, and go at once to seek guidance from her whom God has given you for that purpose. Believe me, child, if you do this, you will make no mistakes. Let me bless you, for I am your Mother.’ ”

Motherly counsels of this nature were the sure forerunners of greater trials, and already the devil was planning to counter God’s designs, but Our Blessed Lady came to give her help.

On Friday, December 10th, she brought her the Crown of Thorns after her Communion, as a pledge of Our Lord’s special love.

“ ‘See,’ she said, ‘I bring it to you myself, that it may be less hard for you.’

“She pressed it right down on my head, and I told her how much I dreaded these graces.

“ ‘If you refuse them, child, you will endanger your salvation. You will indeed suffer by accepting them, but you will never be left without help. I myself will never abandon you, as I am your Mother, and both of us will come to your aid.’ ”

The very next day, December 11th, Our Lord was to ask a fresh proof of her love. During her thanksgiving He spoke these words: “Today I will imprison you in My Heart. Look at the fire of My Heart . . . but some souls are so cold that even that flame fails to warm them.”

“I asked Him how it was that being in contact with His Heart they did not take on Its fire.

“ ‘It is because they do not come close enough,’ He answered.

Then solemnly, so that every word was engraved deeply on her soul, He said: “Love is not loved: think of that, and you will not refuse Me anything I ask of you.”

These luminous days were quickly merged in deepest night. That very evening Josefa felt a fresh wave of repugnance and terror rise in her soul for “all those things.” Were they not a delusion? This idea took strong hold of her and soon reduced her to the deepest distress.

“From December 11th to the 17th I spent thus,” she wrote, after describing the dark tunnel through which she had passed; “that evening I went to the chapel and said to Our Lord with my whole soul, ‘Lord, do not allow me to be unfaithful to Thee. Thrust me deep down in Thy Heart, that I may die without ever having been separated from Thee.’

“That same instant Our Lord appeared, His Heart open and surrounded with flames: ‘How can I put you deeper in My Heart than you are, Josefa? When you think you are far from Me, I am just thrusting you down deeper into It, that you may be safe.’ ”

And as if this assurance were insufficient, He revealed to her on the next day, Saturday, December 18th, what her affliction had wrought for souls. He appeared to her after Communion.

“ ‘I use your helplessness to save souls, Josefa, I want you to be the victim of this Heart. Do not refuse Me anything; comfort Me when I need comfort, and remember that I spared nothing to prove My love for you.’ ”

Nothing was now wanting to Josefa, surely, except perhaps encouragement from Our Lady, to guide her definitely towards a generosity that refuses nothing and does not spare itself in anything.

She appeared to her a few moments later:

“ ‘Child of my heart,’ she said tenderly, ‘I beg of you not to refuse my Son anything He asks of you. Not your happiness only, but that of many others depends on your generosity. Many souls will be the gainers by what you endure, so be faithful and abandon yourself wholly. If you but knew the value of a soul! You are unworthy of so many graces, as I have already said, but if God wishes to use your littleness, have you any right to hesitate?’

“I asked her to bless me; she put her hand on my forehead, and left me.”
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre

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