The Way of Divine Love
#21
CHAPTER V. SEARCHING TRIALS

A SHORT TRUCE April 16th–July 8th, 1922



I shall be the light of your soul.” (Our Lord to Josefa, April 17th, 1922)


EASTER fell this year, 1922, on the 16th of April, and Our Lord granted Josefa a brief truce, His risen Body crushing in its victory Satan’s power.

Early that morning Josefa saw Him during Mass. It was for the first time since March 3rd—a day which remained in her mind as one of sorrow and contrition, though she never doubted of Our Lord’s forgiveness nor His love.

“His whole Person was resplendent in light and beauty,” she wrote, “but I told Him I had no leave to speak to Him.

“ ‘You have no leave, Josefa?’ He answered gently. ‘May you look at Me?’

“I did not know what to say. . . .

“ ‘Look at Me,’ He continued, ‘and let Me look at you. That is enough.’

“I looked at Him, and He also fixed His eyes on me with such love that I am at a loss to say all I felt. . . . After a moment He said: ‘When Reverend Mother sends for you, ask her leave to speak to Me.’

“Then He vanished.”

Although Josefa met her Superior a few minutes later, she obeyed Our Lord literally and waited to be sent for.

“Reverend Mother sent for me towards half-past eleven,” Josefa noted, “and gave me the desired permission. I went to the Chapel and Jesus came at once.

“ ‘Here I am, Josefa! . . . Why did you want Me to come back, even if it were but once?’

“ ‘O! dear Lord, that I might entreat Thee to forgive me, for I do so want it!’

“Then I told Him the whole story of all my miseries and weakness, and with affection simply indescribable He answered: ‘He who never needs forgiveness is not the most happy, but rather he who has humbled himself many times.’ ”

Then Josefa let her whole soul pour out its tale of woe into the compassionate Heart of her Lord—all the obscurities and troubles of the past weeks; and she did not omit her anxiety about the Crown of Thorns: was it really He who sent it to her on Holy Thursday, and then took it away so unaccountably?

Jesus reassured her:

“ ‘Yes, it was I who entrusted you with that precious treasure. But it was too much consolation for you, and you comforted Me more by accepting the uncertainty than by wearing My Crown on your head.’

“Then I spoke to Him of the burning last Saturday, and told Him how it disturbs me to be thus the devil’s sport. He answered strongly, almost sternly: ‘Where is your faith? If I allowed you to be the devil’s sport, know that I did it solely to give an unimpeachable proof of the plans of My Heart for you.’ ”

This Paschal dawn lasted a few days longer:

As once long ago Jesus appeared to His disturbed Apostles to speak words of comfort and reassurance after His Passion, so now—on Monday, the 17th, she wrote:

“The Gospel of today was that of the apparition to the Disciples of Emmaus; as I was saying the words: ‘Stay with me, Lord, for the day is far spent,’ He suddenly made Himself manifest to me.

“ ‘Yes, I will stay with you, and will be the light of your soul. Yes, indeed, the day is far spent . . . what would you do without Me?’ ”

On Friday, April 21st, after a night during which the return of the enemy and the torments of Hell had disappointed her hopes that they were over, we find in her notes: “This morning during Mass Our Lord came. I had thought all these torments were at an end, and I asked Him if He would not leave me enough freedom to do a little work.”

The answer came in a tone of authority: “Josefa, I have told you already that I want to make use of you as an instrument of My mercy for souls; but unless you surrender yourself completely into My hands, what am I to do? . . . There are so many souls that need pardon, and My Heart would like to use victims that will aid in repairing the insults of the world and in spreading My mercies. What does the rest matter to you, if I sustain you? Never do I forsake you. What more do you want?”

Thus the Paschal week ended on a note of warning that many sufferings still lay ahead of her. The devil prowled around her path; the souls in Purgatory continued to beg her prayers and the help of her suffrages. But Our Lord, ever faithful, remained by her side and became, as He said, “the light of her life.” “On Saturday, April 22nd,” we read in her notes, “He came during Mass . . . so gracious. I renewed my vows, and I think that pleased Him, for His Heart blazed ardently.”

She expressed her anxieties concerning the souls in Purgatory who came to ask her prayers. Our Lord reassured her with His usual kindness, and gave her to understand how great were the graces obtained at the price of her pain. “If I tell you all these things,” He said, “it is that you may not recoil, whatever the cost. Be convinced: the greater your sufferings, and the more acute they are, the more are you comforting Me, and it is when you least think it that you are drawing the greatest number of souls to Me.”

And when she told Him how worn out she was by the weeks of pain she had gone through: “I have no need of your strength, but I do need your surrender,” He answered tenderly. “True strength is in My Heart. Remain in peace, and do not forget that mercy and love are at work in you.”

It was, therefore, from the Sacred Heart that she would draw the fortitude demanded by the path of total abandonment which was increasingly to be hers.

“For some days past,” she wrote on Monday, April 24th, “the devil has dragged me down to Hell at the same hour, and keeps me there for about the same length of time. This worries me, and I wonder if I am responsible for this in any way.” When next Our Lord appeared to her after her Communion this was the first thing she asked Him.

“ ‘Do not be anxious,’ He replied, ‘there is a soul that we must snatch from the devil’s grasp, and that particular hour is one of peril for her, but we shall succeed by dint of suffering. There are so many souls exposed to the danger of perdition . . . but there are, too, many who comfort Me, and many who come back to My Heart.’

“Then,” she said, “I asked Him what we could do to obtain the conversion of a sinner who had been recommended to our prayers, and who is a cause of great scandal.

“ ‘You must put My Heart between that sinner and My Father, Josefa. My Heart will appease His wrath and incline divine compassion towards that soul. Adieu, console Me by your abandonment and love.’ ”

Days of trial succeeded those of grace, for the devil did all he could to reawaken in her a whole flood of repugnances, and at the same time he tormented her with every sort of torture; she met him anywhere, he hit her, burnt her, dragged her down to the infernal regions . . . and Friday, April 29th, in sheer terror of his threats, she dared not go to Communion, although the thought of one Communion lost was an immense sorrow to her.

These days of great distress brought back many souls, though she was unaware of this encouraging fact.

Tuesday, May 2nd, as she was sweeping the Auxiliary Chapel, suddenly she saw Our Lord in all the beauty of His glory.

“He was standing in between the benches,” she said.

“ ‘Josefa, shall I come? . . . I will not hinder your work.’

“I renewed my vows and told Him I must first ask leave.

“ ‘Yes, go.’

“He disappeared, and I went at once to tell Reverend Mother. When I came back I saw Him through the open door. He was still in the same place, as if waiting for me . . . so full of sweetness . . . the tenderness of a Father which no words can render.

“ ‘I want so much to come to you, Josefa. Are you going to shut Me out?’ ”

This question like an arrow pierced her through. She acknowledged her fear of the devil, who was doing all he could to prevent her from going to Holy Communion.

“ ‘Do you not know that he can torment you, but that he cannot harm you? Which of the two is stronger, he or I?’ ”

On Wednesday, May 3rd, after Communion, He came:

“ ‘Josefa!’

“I asked His leave to renew my vows; and then each time He comes I want to tell Him all my faults. . . .

“ ‘You cannot know how My Heart exults in forgiving faults that are of pure frailty. Have no fear . . . it is just because of your wretchedness that I have fixed My eyes on you.’ ”

This gracious indulgence encouraged Josefa to tell Him of her great desire to be faithful to community exercises in spite of the devil. “Let Me use you as I will. To whom do you think common life gives the greater satisfaction? To you or to Me?”

Thus did the Master of abandonment continue the training of Josefa’s soul through all the vicissitudes of her troubled life. A truce was called from time to time, and her notes still contained a few glowing passages:

“That evening during my adoration, whilst O Crux Ave, was being sung—for it was the Feast of the Finding of the Holy Cross—I was seized with an ardent desire of embracing the Sacred Wounds. I kissed my crucifix and begged Our Lady to do it for me.

“She came unexpectedly; her hands were crossed on her breast, and she said very gently to me: ‘Daughter, what is it you want?’

“ ‘O! Mother, I want to kiss the hands and feet of Jesus, and if you will allow me’—here I hesitated a little—‘I want to kiss your hand as well.’

“ ‘You want to kiss my hand? Then do so . . . ’ and giving me her hand, she added: ‘And you would like to kiss the Wounds of Jesus? . . . ’

“Before I had time to answer, there stood Jesus Himself, beautiful, and with glowing Wounds.

“ ‘What do you want, Josefa?’

“ ‘To kiss Thy Sacred Wounds, dear Lord!’

“ ‘Yes, kiss them.’

“He Himself showed her His feet, His hands, then His Heart. ‘That Wound is yours; it belongs to you.’ ”

“ ‘See how I refuse you nothing, and would you refuse Me anything?’

“I told Him that He knew my desires, but that my infirmity is great.”

In this way she tried to express the contrast she felt at certain times between her will and her actions.

“That accounts for the way in which I so often promise to refuse Him nothing, but fail to keep the promise when occasion arises. . . . These failures are followed by feelings of deep contrition at having wounded One who is so good to me.

“ ‘My Heart indeed loves you, and takes pleasure in your helplessness. Do you know how to comfort Me? Love Me and suffer for souls and never refuse Me anything.’ ”

These graces of predilection always proved to be the prelude of increased suffering, and Satan, who had not given up his intentions in her regard, made her feel his power more acutely than ever in the days that followed. But before giving her into his clutches again, Jesus wished to confirm His plans of love for her.

“I had told Him how intensely I longed for His coming in Holy Communion,” she wrote on May 11th, “for I hunger for Him, and the more wretched I see myself to be, the more I beg of Him to bring me Himself the remedy for so much misery. After Communion He came with outstretched arms.”

“ ‘I am longing to imprison you in My Heart, for My affection for you has no measure. In spite of your failings and weakness, I shall use you to make My love known to many souls. There are so many who do not know how much I love them. . . . My great wish is to see these beloved ones bury themselves in the abyss of My Heart.’ ”

This was the second time that her coming mission was revealed to her, and as He read in the depths of her soul what she dared not express, He added for her comfort: “When you feel how vulnerable you are, and that fear oppresses you, come here for strength. Adieu.”

This adieu introduces us to the last phase before Josefa’s vows. Our Lord no longer showed Himself, but Satan entered in triumph. All the torments of the past months were renewed in order to shake her faith and her fidelity. No efforts were spared by the evil one to destroy a vocation he saw to be so fruitful for the salvation of souls. Josefa had become his personal enemy, and for two months the unloosed powers of Hell fought in single combat with this frail creature, so weak in herself, but so strong in the strength of God.

Days and nights were spent, almost without halt or respite, in a desperate conflict, the violence of which was worse than anything she had yet gone through. It was astonishing that her strength did not fail, that she kept up her usual work without interruption, and that no single human eye was allowed to pierce the mystery of this extraordinary trial.

Jesus and His Mother kept watch over her during these waves of tempest, which at the hour decreed by God broke and dispersed.

Friday, May 19th, the canonical examination for admission to the vows took place in tranquility; the devil did not put in an appearance that day, and Josefa was able to testify, in the joy of her heart, to her determination to follow Our Lord and to be faithful to Him till death. This, of course, increased the infernal fury.

From May 25th, Feast of the Ascension, to Pentecost on June 4th the days went by without a single ray of light to relieve the tempest. On Sunday, the 11th, the post brought the glad news from the Mother House that Josefa was admitted to her First Vows. She received the news of this grace of all graces with immense joy, and could scarcely believe it to be true. The letter bore the date June 5th, a remarkable coincidence, for it was on that day two years before that Our Lord had first made Himself manifest to her.

These graces seemed to exasperate the devil, whose rage was intensified, while with tenacity he repeated again and again: “That day will never dawn. . . . I will wear you out. . . . I will torture you. . . . I will snatch you away from this place.”

The month of July began in the midst of these relentless fights. The 16th, Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, had been selected for the ceremony of her vows, and on Friday, the 7th, First Friday of the month, she began her preparatory retreat. That very day the devil assaulted her in the most terrible way she had yet experienced. . . . She afterwards acknowledged that never had she felt so near losing her soul.

These hours of unspeakable agony did not, however, succeed in wrenching from the depths of her soul her yearning for God. It was the Mother of Sorrows who again ruined Satan’s plans.

The culminating point of diabolic striving for her soul was reached on the evening of the First Friday and during Saturday, July 8th.

It was five o’clock in the evening. Josefa, worn out, was seated in her little cell, where she had spent the whole of that terrible day. She did not seem to hear the Aves whispered beside her, appealing to the Virgin Mother, through her Sorrows, to come to the aid of her child. Suddenly there came a change over her face . . . its expression relaxed, her lips parted, and gradually she joined in the prayers. Then in the calm which began to steal over her the Mothers tried reading to her a few words which had formerly been uttered to her by Our Lady, and which she had carefully treasured. When they read: “Daughter, you will never abandon my Son, will you?” she cried out vehemently: “No, Mother, never.”

She threw herself on her knees, her face lit up, and before her liberated soul stood Our Lady herself, the Immaculate. With a transport of love difficult to describe, Josefa repeated the words again and again.

“No, no, Mother, never.”

It was a startling moment when the devil’s power crumbled and vanished before the sovereign intervention of the Queen of Heaven.

By an unlooked-for coincidence, which had surely been arranged by Our Blessed Lord Himself, Father Boyer O.P., her Director, was announced at that very moment. So Josefa was able to see him, and his words of encouragement and confidence restored her once more to the arms of God.
"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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#22
CHAPTER VI. THE TRIUMPH OF LOVE

RETREAT FOR FIRST VOWS July 8th–16th, 1922



Never will I be separated from Thee, but I will follow wheresoever Thou leadest.” (From Josefa’s notes of retreat)

WE have followed Josefa into the silence of her retreat, of which no single day has been exempt from the attacks of the devil. Her struggles can be followed in the notes of her retreat, in which her rooted love of God’s Will stands out, in spite of the fact that it runs so counter to her own attractions, and demands of her such costly immolation.

“Lord,” she wrote on July 8th, which had been a day of dire distress, “Thou seest what I am . . . but rather than give Thee up and be unfaithful to the call Thou hast given me, I prefer suffering a thousand times over.

“I begin this retreat devoid of any longings, yet do with me whatever Thou wilt; all I ask is that Thou wouldst so bind me to Thy Holy Will that I may never swerve from carrying out what I know to be Thy good pleasure.

“There was a time when I hailed this day with enthusiasm. It has come at last, but it finds me cold, without strength or love . . . but what would become of me had I not my Jesus! I love Him without measure, though this love is unfelt. . . . I will therefore allow myself to be led; I make the retreat solely because it is His Will, and I know that in spite of the darkness He is preparing my soul to unite it to Himself.”

The first three days of the retreat passed in relative peace. The evil one tried in vain to torment her in every possible way. Nevertheless, she faithfully noted down the result of her meditations. These notes, which were not intended for any eye but her own, witness to her simplicity, uprightness and mental equilibrium.

“Jesus has given me my being, my vocation, and the means of serving Him according to His own plans,” she wrote. “He has every right over me, and I must surrender with entire submission to His Will. It matters little if the path chosen is a very costly one to myself . . . the measure of my abandonment will one day be that of my happiness, and true peace will always be mine if I do His Will completely, putting self out of count. . . .

“The meditation on death has given me strength to endure, for what a consolation it will be in the end to have suffered for God. . . . Thou knowest, O Lord, that I long to be united to Thee, and never to be separated from Thee, so it is not death that I fear, but life. . . . Yet my trust is in Thee; I know that Thou wilt never forsake me, and if suffering is what Thou requirest of me, I am content, provided it comforts Thee. . . . May my life be loyal and true, that in death I may find only beatitude.

“With the Prodigal I long to throw myself into Thy Heart, and there leave all my miseries. . . . I am sure of my welcome, for however great my sins, much greater is Thy mercy and the tenderness of Thy Heart.”

When she listened to the Master’s call, during the meditation on the “Kingdom of Christ,” anguish and darkness had possession of Josefa’s soul:

“Master! Thou seest my distress. Yet who can contemplate Thee leading the vanguard, and not want to follow? . . . I will not be kept back by fear, but will joyfully tread in Thy footsteps. Do with me according to Thy Will for Thou art my King. . . . I surrender all to find all . . . and once more repeat that never will I be separated from Thee, but will follow wheresoever Thou leadest.

“I drew fresh courage from the meditation on the Incarnation. There I see Jesus humble Himself to do the Will of His Father; in the same way I must humbly submit to His Will, whatever it may be . . . loving that dependence and subjection. My soul ought to be in the habitual disposition to do all, to suffer all, and to sacrifice everything to God’s Will. May I lead a life of absolute poverty in all things, that so He may carry out His holy Will in me.”

The contemplation of the Nativity revived in her memories of past Christmas joys:

“Jesus, my life, when I see Thee thus in complete destitution, could I desire to possess anything whatsoever? My little Jesus, how beautiful Thou art! I draw near the Crib where Thou art lying on straw, and kiss Thy little feet and hands . . . deign to glance at me with Thy entrancing eyes and let me hear from Thy lips ‘Have no fear,’ for Thou art my Saviour and lovest me with an infinite love, and hast said: ‘My daughter, I want you to belong entirely to Me.’ Am I not already Thine, Lord—and forever?”

When, on Wednesday, July 12th, Satan’s sombre figure cast a heavy shadow across Josefa’s path, suffering and desolation “invaded her soul. That night during a prolonged descent into hell-fire, he placed her in front of the empty niches, destined for the souls she had snatched from him, and there tortured her in revenge. She returned to consciousness crushed and worn out, but ready to suffer anything for the salvation of souls. Such an offering is never made in vain, and Josefa’s soul again re-entered shadowy darkness.

Of all her sad days, Thursday, July 13th, was one of the hardest. Her notes bear the impress of the successive waves of overpowering desolation which seemed to engulf her spirit. “Jesus,” she wrote, “come to my aid; see the night in which I am sinking . . . do not leave me in the hands of my enemies . . .”

After the meditation on the Two Standards:

“Thou, O Lord, knowest that for years past I have longed only to belong to Thee, to live for Thee, and to love Thee . . . now I am on the verge of giving way. O! look on me, and all will be well. O! do look on me, Lord! There are only two more days. If I cannot find peace in Thee, where am I to seek it?”

How sad were the words which expressed the memory of her heart’s longings!

“Thou knowest how I longed for this retreat for my vows . . . and see, my days are spent in terror, in dismay, in trouble and pain. . . . O! why is so much freedom granted to the devil?”

But thoughts of faith soon replaced these reflections—

“Lord, I await everything from Thy Heart, I wish to belong entirely to Thee, and I affirm it again at the very height of my distress, the worst agony I have ever known, as well Thou knowest!”

And as if to give herself courage in reaffirming her resolution to be loyal to the end, she jotted down broken words like the following:

“Lord, whither can I go, to whom can I give myself, if not to Thee? . . . I no longer hope or desire anything, but I will not fail in loyalty. . . . I am ready to do whatever Thou willest . . . to suffer as much as Thou willest, and to follow Thee anywhere, giving myself to Thee with entire generosity, for Thou art my Saviour and my God and hast chosen me. . . . O! Heart full of mercy and love, have compassion on me . . . do not let me fall, give me strength to resist, constancy to persevere, and love to suffer.”

Such a cry of distress and love could not but reach Heaven. On the evening of the 13th Josefa began her Holy Hour, kneeling in the oratory of Saint Madeleine Sophie. She was in a state of mind difficult to describe, when suddenly—in a flash—her soul became immersed in the profoundest peace. Once more Jesus had manifested His power. In the ineffable joy of that recovery, Josefa, delivered, transformed, and radiant, renewed the vows that in advance had bound her for eternity to the Heart of Jesus and to His Society. The devil was in flight, and in the expansiveness of her new-found happiness Josefa wrote next day: “Jesus, I thank Thee for having restored me to light and peace. I am ready to do Thy Will in everything.”

Then as if speaking to herself, she added: “I have loved Thee all my life, Thee alone my God, but no one knew I belonged to Thee. Now the heavens and the earth will know that we love each other and are espoused for all eternity! . . .”

During the last two days of her retreat this deep peace continued; she could hardly believe in her joy, but nevertheless she did not relax in the serious pursuit of perfection, and to the very end the devil tried to deprive her of her happiness.

“Jesus, in the desert, was tempted,” she wrote. “The devil was allowed to attack God, to give me courage and to teach me that temptation is the crucible of all true virtue.

“I do not know if Jesus was ever tempted during His hidden life, but He willed to experience this trial at the moment when He was preparing for His public life.

“When God deigns to make use of a soul He acts in the same way: He first of all keeps her hidden, to strengthen her interior life, but when the time comes to carry out His designs, He exposes her to temptation, in order to build her up, to preserve her from self-love and make her more useful to others by the experience she has gained.

“I must trust the Heart that watches over me; and the measure of my suffering, as He has many times told me, is the future measure of my consolation.”

The sight of Our Lord in His Agony, braced and stimulated her will:

“How many lessons Thou givest me, Lord. In temptation and desolation, I must have recourse to prayer if I want relief, but especially to obtain strength to carry out Thy Will.

“How hard would be my heart, if at the sight of His Passion I hesitated to walk in the path He points out: a path of humiliation, denial, and absolute surrender of self.”

That Friday evening, after the contemplation of the Crucifixion, she wrote:

“Lord, Thou art on the Cross about to die for me and Thy Heart will be opened for me. Heart of Jesus, show me the way in, then draw me down into Its depth.

“There is my dwelling; there shall I stay hidden—there shall I labor and suffer and lose myself . . . the lowlier I am the more I shall be able to sink into Its deepest depths . . . what a joy to know that Heart and to be His bride. . . .”

A little further on she renewed her promises with intense spiritual fervor:

“I am not capable of much, Lord, but I promise to follow where Thou leadest me. If I fail (and it will not be once only), I will not be discouraged, but will love Thee still more because of Thy tenderness for me who lovest me as though I had never sinned . . . even if I do fall, I will rise again and fly to Thy Heart.”

Saturday, July 15th, eve of her vows, Josefa spent in glad expectation. Her joy was at the same time so fresh and so grave that it must have ravished the Heart of Him who delights in the simplicity and spontaneity of love.

“Day of great peace, while waiting for the hour that is to unite me to Him,” she wrote. “When He comes He must not find anything that might be displeasing to Him or hinder His entrance. . . . I must purify the dwelling of my heart. I am about to become the bride of a King who will bring with Him an abundance of all good things. I must lay aside my poor judgment, I must adopt His thoughts and His Will, and subject myself in everything to His tastes. . . .”

Towards midday the enemy made a final assault, but in vain . . . He was not visible to her eyes, but she heard his raucous voice: “It’s not too late, if you want to be happy, go away, or else I will burn you.”

But this nefarious cloud cast no shadow over her quiet joy. That evening she noted down in detail all her intentions and hopes:

“So numerous,” she said, “that I shall not have time to tell them all to Our Lord tomorrow, so I will put this letter on my heart, and He will read it during my thanksgiving. I shall have just made my vows and He will not be able to refuse me anything.”

This paper has been preserved. It bears testimony to Josefa’s pure affection for everyone she knew. She noted down name after name of all those dear to her (her writing getting smaller and smaller), running through all her intentions with a charity that extended to the uttermost borders of the earth and took in Holy Church, France, and Spain and the whole universe. She felt that in that most solemn hour of her life she was powerful over the Heart of Jesus, and shared more than ever His unfathomable thirst for souls. She concluded:

“As for me, I give myself up body and soul to Thee, and I have no other desire than the glory of Thy Heart which I so love. May the whole world know Thee. . . . May those consecrated to Thee love Thee ever more and more. . . . Nothing will ever separate us, neither life nor death. Enkindle me with Thy love, and give me no other consolation than that of consoling Thy Heart. . . .

“Receive this missive through the hands of Our Lady. For time and for eternity, I am henceforward Thine.

“MARIA-JOSEFA MENÉNDEZ OF JESUS.”

The day ended in the full glow of the presence of Jesus who was near, and the night was spent in desires.

All was ready for the offering that was about to be accomplished.
"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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#23
CHAPTER VI. THE TRIUMPH OF LOVE

THE OFFERING July 16th–August 7th, 1922



See, have I not been faithful to you? Now My work is about to begin.” (Our Lord to Josefa, July 16th, 1922)


IT was a truly heavenly day for Les Feuillants. In the house, where ceremonies of Clothing and First Vows were frequent, there was in the air a renewal of fervor and gladness, which never failed to surround the privileged few who were about to kneel before the altar and make their offering. The whole family joined in the festive joy of the day, and never does the motto of the Society “Cor unum et anima una in Corde Jesu” take on a more living reality than on such occasions.

On the morning of Sunday, July 16th, no one foresaw the marvels that were about to become realities in the life of the little novice, Josefa Menéndez. How jealously God had kept her in the shadow of His face! He had elaborated His plan, formed her and wrought in her, crushed and ground her, till the pattern He designed had been fashioned and molded. He had led her through chosen paths, and confounded Satan’s devices. His mercy had triumphed in her wretchedness and His power in her weakness. Today He Himself was about to lead her to the accomplishment of His great plans. The alliance was about to be sealed before Heaven and earth; and she would become His consecrated bride, not to enjoy Him indeed, but to aid in Love’s enterprise which would consummate the union between them.

She was the only novice to make her vows that day. The Chapel, bright with flowers, was filled by the children, and by her Mothers and Sisters in religion, when at eight o’clock Josefa entered with an air of recollected joy which was not of this earth. Her beloved mother and her sister Angela had come from Madrid. She knew they were there, and “these two loves of her heart,” as she called them, were part of the offering she was about to make. Her other sister, Mercedes, a religious of the Sacred Heart, was united to them in spirit, in her far-off convent of Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.

Nothing either in her attitude or face, so calm and radiant, betrayed the mysterious approach of heavenly visitants.

In the silence of prayer, which the liturgical chant interrupted from time to time, the usual ritual of the ceremony proceeded. After a short discourse by the celebrant who alluded to the austere joys of religious consecration, Josefa advanced to the altar rails, and with a firm voice answered the questions:

“Is it of your own free will that you renounce the world and all worldly hopes and expectations? And do you take Jesus Christ for your Spouse with all your heart?”

Her whole soul exulted in the words: “Yes, Father, with all my heart!”

She then received the crucifix on which is nailed the figure of “Him who must henceforth be your Model and the sole object of your love,” and the black veil about which the following is said: “Receive the yoke of the Lord, for His yoke is sweet and His burden light.”

Holy Mass began. When the solemn moment of Communion arrived, Josefa, all alone at the altar rails, in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament held before her by the celebrant, slowly with all the will and love of her heart, pronounced the vows which would unite her forever to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It was a moving moment to those who knew at what a price the favor had been bought, through what tempests her little bark had reached port, and what miracles of love had opened for her the Heart of Him who had been captivated by her littleness.

Human eyes saw only the simple offering, but another, and this a heavenly, scene was being enacted.

A few hours later Josefa, still deep in glad recollection, noted, so that she might never forget it, what Our Lord had been pleased to do for her.

“After the sermon, I went up to the altar rails to receive my crucifix of vows and black veil. Then suddenly I saw Our Lady present, O! so ravishingly lovely, all bathed in light. She held a veil in her hands, and when I returned to my prie-dieu, she herself put it on my head. All round her and framing her person were a number of radiant little faces which looked like those of tiny children, lit up with joy. With ineffable sweetness she said to me: ‘While you, beloved daughter, were suffering, these souls were weaving this veil for you. All those you prayed for have left Purgatory and are safe in Heaven for all eternity. There they will protect you.’

“It was an entrancing sight: Our Lady looked like a queen with her beautiful countenance all purity and tenderness, her golden raiment and her exquisitely molded hands . . . and then the souls . . . so many little heads—O! it was wonderful to see, and I cannot describe how profoundly it affected me. Besides, I was wrapped in the veil, and had my crucifix. I did not know what to say . . . I let the flood of happiness just roll over me . . . what else could I do?

“When Our Lady finished speaking, the little faces disappeared, one after the other. She gave me her blessing and disappeared, too. I thought myself in Heaven.

“Then came the moment—how brimming with emotion and joy—to read the formula of my vows and receive Holy Communion . . . and then, Jesus Himself came. His Heart was flooded with effulgent light, the Wound open wide, and from It issued a force that drew me into It, and I found myself deep down in Its depths.

“ ‘Now, I am satisfied,’ He said, ‘for I hold you prisoner in My Heart. From all eternity I have been yours; now, you are Mine forever. You will work for Me, and I will work for you. Your interests will be Mine, and Mine yours. I have been faithful to you, have I not, Josefa? And now My great work will begin.’ And saying this He vanished.”

A few hours later Josefa, whose heart was overflowing, wrote in her notes of retreat:

“Jesus has come; we are one . . . does He know what a miserable creature I am, and that in spite of my longing to please Him and love Him, I shall disappoint Him more than once, perhaps? . . . Yes, He knows it better than I do, but He loves me all the same, and He does not mind. He is ready beforehand to repair all my faults; that is why He has given me His Heart!”

Then she tried to find words which would express in detail the vows that bound her to this Sacred Heart:

“O Jesus, I thank Thee for the incomparable grace of my vows. What does my vow of Poverty mean to me? . . . I know that, hence-forward, I have no right to anything: everything I use is given me as an alms. I have given up, too, all that I most cherish, my mother, my sister, my home, my country, to possess only Jesus Christ. But above all I must be despoiled of myself. Jesus will be all in all to me and I shall have no other wish or ambition than for Him. He is my strength and my peace; I want nothing but Him, and nothing except what leads me to Him.

“What of my vow of Chastity? Ah! how happy I am in my religious life and none can deprive me of this treasure. The world no longer exists for me, and I am in a closed garden full of every variety of flower, and in this enclosure, and in the midst of these flowers I shall spend my life, for they are all set apart for the Heavenly Husbandman. He cultivates me and I give Him pleasure. He loves me and I love Him! . . . What else matters? O most pure Jesus, Bridegroom of virgin souls, I love Thee, for Thou art purity itself; that is what has attracted me from infancy. Jesus is the Spouse of Virgins! such were the words that attracted me as a child and made me relish the charms Thou reservest for consecrated souls, and ever since my soul has been the little flower that sheds its perfume for Thee, O Jesus! Never allow me to lose the spotlessness of grace or the love of virginity.

“And Obedience? It binds me to all legitimate authority, in which I see Thee and through whom Thou speakest to me and makest known to me Thy Will. But love must go further still; I must not only obey all authority, but listen to the interior voice to which I am sometimes deaf, because I find it too costly to follow its behests, or transmit what it tells me to transmit. . . . No, Lord, I will obey for love of Thee and will ask for no reasons, nor will I hesitate or complain, for it is not my will but Thine that must henceforth live in me, and all I do must be for Thee.

“All day,” she concluded, “I was so lighthearted that I did not know what to say to Jesus and His Mother!”

She seemed in very truth to be wrapped in heavenly peace, and sunk in God, but ever the same, kindly, simple, full of consideration for others. She spent the day giving joy to all around her. She paid visits to the infirm and sick, so as to give them the kiss of peace that she had been unable to give them in the Chapel. Her coming was a ray of sunshine and an expression of charity. All the time she could spare was spent with her mother and sister, for her supernatural tenderness as daughter and sister had suffered no change.

When evening came, in the much-desired silence of a prolonged adoration before the Blessed Sacrament exposed, she repeated her consecration to His Heart.

The following days only strengthened her gift of self, until the time when it was Our Lord’s intention openly to discover to her the plans of His Heart, thus realizing the words she had heard on the morning of her vows: “Now, My great work will begin.”

“On Tuesday, July 18th,” she wrote, “when the last bell rang, I left my mother and sister to go to the Chapel. As I went, I asked Jesus not to mind if I did not speak direct to Him quite so often these days, but to take as spoken to Himself all I shall say to them, for He knows I do it for love of Him.”

As she entered the oratory of Saint Madeleine Sophie, Our Lord became visible to her. “Josefa, My bride,” He said, “have no misgivings on this head. I am as much consoled as if you were with Me. See Me in them, and live in peace.”

On Saturday, July 22nd, at the beginning of Mass, He again appeared—“most beautiful to behold,” she wrote. “In one hand He held His Heart and with the other He beckoned to me: “Behold the prison I have prepared for you from all eternity,” He said. “In My Heart you will henceforth live lost and hidden forever.”

After Communion, He again spoke: “Josefa, My bride, let Me rejoice in you. My greatness will make your littleness disappear; from now on we shall labor together and as one: I shall live in you and you will live for souls.”

And when she timidly reminded Him of her frailty: “Let yourself be guided. . . . My Heart will do all that is needful, My mercy will be active, My love will annihilate your whole being.”

“Yesterday,” says a further note, “Our Lady came in the course of the morning.”

This peerless Mother seemed anxious lest Josefa should forget the dangers with which her path was beset:

“ ‘Be in peace, daughter,’ she said to me. ‘Have no reserves, and be wholly occupied with the present moment. Jesus will lead both you and your Superiors. Keep close to them, remain faithful and submissive to the will of my Son, especially in difficult moments.’ ”

Then after a few recommendations: “ ‘My divine Son intends to use this little instrument for His glory and that notwithstanding all the machinations of the enemy.’ ”

So from Mary’s own lips she gathered that the devil had not been quelled for long, for though unable to snatch her vocation from her, he would never cease trying to frustrate the plan he saw divinely inscribed on every page of Josefa’s life. She was at first disconcerted to find herself still weak in spite of the grace of her vows, when painful temptations again assailed her.

These repeated temptations always had the same aim: to exploit Josefa’s repugnances to God’s plan for her.

“On Wednesday, July 26th, I was telling Our Lady of this great disappointment,” she wrote, “asking her to obtain forgiveness for me from Jesus, to tell Him the joy it is to me to belong to Him, and how it is my one desire to love Him, but also would He deign to remember my lowliness; and as I was speaking to her so frankly and pouring out my troubles, Jesus Himself appeared. He came close to me and said: ‘Why fear? I am your Saviour and Bridegroom. If only souls understood all these two words imply. . . . That is the work I intend to do by your means. The most ardent longing of My Heart is that souls should be saved, and I want My consecrated ones, especially those of My Heart, to know how easily they can give Me souls. By you, I will let them know what treasures go to waste by their not sufficiently understanding these two words: Saviour and Spouse.’ ”

On the 27th Our Blessed Lady showed herself to Josefa during night prayers. “My dearest child, do not grieve overmuch at your weaknesses, which will occur again, but love will always be there to raise you up, for you are sustained by a Bridegroom who loves you and who is your God.”

A few days later she came with a message from Jesus, who was going to bring her His Cross:

“ ‘This night He will bring you His Cross,’ and resting her hand on my shoulder,” said Josefa, “she added: ‘Do not regard your wretchedness, but look at the treasure that is yours, for if you are all His, He is all yours.’ ”

A few hours later, during the night, Jesus appeared bathed in radiant light and brought her the Cross which she had not carried for a long time.

“ ‘Josefa, will you share the Cross of your Beloved?’ and He laid it on my right shoulder.

“ ‘Receive it with joy, and bear it with love, for you do this for the souls I love so much. Is it not lighter than before? That is because now we are united forever, and nothing will ever part us.’ ”

The Lord who allowed her the day to do her work knew she would be ever ready to console Him.

During the night of August 6th:

“I was already asleep when I heard His voice: ‘ Josefa, My bride!’

“There He stood, so surpassingly beautiful, bearing His Cross, and all encircled with light. I rose at once.

“ ‘I come to bring you My Cross.’

“And He unburdened Himself of it, laying it across my shoulder. I told Him what a joy it was to me to relieve Him of it in spite of my weakness.

“ ‘I bring it to you at night, for during the day I give it to other religious.’ ”

Then Josefa spoke to Him at once about souls and especially those of sinners, for this was a preoccupation that never left her.

“ ‘Yes, there are many who offend Me and many who are lost,’ He answered sadly, ‘but those who wound My Heart most are the much-loved ones who always keep something back, and do not give themselves wholly to Me. Yet, do I not show them clearly enough how dearly I love them? Do I not give them My whole Heart?’

“I begged His forgiveness for them and for myself who so often keep back something,” she continued humbly, “and I begged Him to accept as reparation the acts and the love of those who want to console Him. He answered gently: ‘That is My intention . . . to repair the faults of some by the acts of others.’ ”

That night spent under the Cross was a fitting and immediate preparation for Sunday, August 6th, 1922, a memorable date in Josefa’s history, for it opened out new prospects of the great work that awaited her. But the divine Master who can work only through the nothingness of His instruments, wished first of all to emphasize once more this need of His Heart. She wrote:

“After Communion Our Lord came in all His beauty; His Heart was wounded and open wide and He began by looking at me; then with great compassion He said: ‘Misery! Nothingness! Such you are. . . . Little still implies some being, but, Josefa, you are less than that, you are nothingness personified.’

“He said this so lovingly that my heart was unlocked, and I simply poured it out: ‘Yes, my Master, how true. . . . I am nothing and would like to be less than nothing, for nothingness never resists or offends Thee, since it does not exist, while I do resist and do offend Thee.’

“He came back during the second Mass and drawing me close to His Heart, He said: ‘Are you, then, quite convinced of your nothingness? From now on, none of the words I say to you will ever be blotted out.’

“I told Him that the thought of His putting His work of love into my unworthy hands causes me great alarm, for in spite of my good will, I have a tremendous capacity for evil.

“From His Heart there sprang a flame that burnt me.

“ ‘Begin My work, but holding on tight to My Mother’s hand the while. . . . Will not that give you courage?’ “

“Agarrada”—clutching, clinging to, a word which does not translate easily.

Josefa’s heart bounded at these words, for nothing gave her greater security than to be in the hands of Mary whom she so loved. “Yes, Lord,” she answered spontaneously, “great courage and great confidence. Tell me what I can do to obtain from this dear Mother that she should never let me fail Thee in Thy work but keep me always faithful to Thy plans, and protect me, and that Thy Heart should sustain me; I desire nothing else.”

There was a moment of impressive silence, after which Jesus spoke slowly and reflectingly words of extreme importance.

“As My Heart wishes to use abject instruments to carry out this work, the greatest of My Love, this is what you must do as a beginning during the days that precede My Mother’s Assumption. You must ponder on and realize the nothingness of the instruments used. Trust wholly to the mercy of My Heart, and promise most solemnly never to resist or refuse Me what I ask of you, however crucifying it may seem.

“On Thursday you will make a Holy Hour to comfort Me for the resistance I meet with from souls consecrated to Me.

“On Friday, I ask of you an act of reparation for the offenses and sorrows inflicted on Me by these same souls.”

That night when writing down Our Lord’s words, Josefa was deeply struck at the memory of the grave solemnity with which He had spoken. She dared not go on writing lest she should record them inaccurately, and distort her Master’s meaning. He deigned to appear and dictate to her what follows:

“ ‘It is of no consequence! When you write I will tell you what you have to say. None of My words will be lost. Nothing that I tell you will ever be blotted out. It signifies little that you are so worthless and wretched, for it is I who will do all.

“ ‘I will make it known that My work rests on nothingness and misery—such is the first link in the chain of love that I have prepared for souls from all eternity. I will use you to show that I love misery, littleness, and absolute nothingness.

“ ‘I will reveal to souls the excess of My love and how far I will go in forgiveness, and how even their faults will be used by Me with blind indulgence . . . yes, write . . . with blind indulgence. I see the very depths of souls, I see how they would please, console and glorify Me, and the act of humility they are obliged to make when they see themselves so feeble, is solace and glory to My Heart. What does their helplessness matter? Cannot I supply all their deficiencies? I will show how My Heart uses their very weakness to give life to many souls that have lost it.

“ ‘I will make known that the measure of My love and mercy for fallen souls is limitless. I want to forgive them. It rests Me to forgive. I am ever there, waiting, with boundless love till souls come to Me. Let them come, nor be discouraged. Let them fearlessly throw themselves into My arms! I am their Father.

“ ‘Many of My religious do not understand all they can do to draw those steeped in ignorance to My Heart. They do not know how I yearn to draw them to Myself and give them life . . . true life.

“ ‘Yes, Josefa, I will teach you the secrets of My love, and you will be a living example of My mercy, for if I have such love and predilection for you who are of no account whatever, what am I not ready to do for others more generous than you?’

“He allowed me to kiss His feet, and then He went away.”

From this time on, whenever Josefa had to transmit a message from the Heart of Jesus to the world, He would be there. . . . He would speak with all the expansiveness of the most burning love, and Josefa would write at His dictation these appeals, one by one, as they fell from His sacred lips.

In the notebooks, these passages are underlined in red ink to make them stand out as exceptionally important.

“On Monday, August 7th, after Communion,” she said, “Our Lord appeared, beautiful as ever.

“ ‘What is it you want to tell Me, Josefa?’

“ ‘Lord, may I renew my vows, so that I may be obedient?’

[It will be remembered that many months ago this order had been given her, that the snares laid for her by the infernal enemy might be discovered.]

“Whilst I was renewing them, He looked at me with tenderness and compassion. ‘Come, since you are nothing, enter My Heart. How easy it is for a mere nothing to lose itself in that abyss of love.’ ”

“Then He made me enter His Heart . . .” wrote Josefa, but she could not comment on so mysterious a favor.

When at last she emerged from the unfathomable depths of Love’s home, He said:

“ ‘That is how I will consume your littleness and nothingness.

“ ‘I will act through you, speak through you, and make Myself known through you. How many will find life in My words! How many will take new courage as they understand the fruit to be drawn from their efforts! A little act of generosity, of patience, of poverty . . . may become treasure that will win a great number of souls to My Heart . . . You, Josefa, will soon pass out of sight, but My words will remain.’

“Asi ire consumiendo tu pequeñez y tu miscria. Yo abrare en ti. Yo hablare por ti…. Me hare conocer por ti. Cuantas almas encontraran la vida en mis palabras! Como cobraran animo viendo el fruto de sus trabajos…. Un actito pequeño de generosidad, de paciencia, de pobreza, etc…. puede ser un tesoro que de a mi Corazón gran numero de almas. Pronto, tu no existiras, pues mis palabras viviran siempre…”

“Then I ventured to tell Him how fainthearted I feel, for I am always afraid of not being faithful; He looked at me with eyes of unimaginable beauty and clemency, and said: ‘Fear not! I will mold and use you as seems best for My glory and for the profit of souls. Give yourself over to love, let yourself be guided by love, and live lost in love.’ “

Josefa noted down a few days later words which at the time she did not dare tell Reverend Mother: “You will die soon. I will warn you a little beforehand, so that your Mother can tell the Bishop everything. But do not be alarmed, for not many days after you will be with Me in Heaven.”
"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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#24
BOOK TWO - THE MESSAGE OF LOVE
PART ONE

PRELIMINARY EXPLANATION


As soon as Josefa had made her vows it became clear that God had chosen her with a view to a great plan of love. All the grace of her vocation, developed in her soul by divine love, had prepared her for this work.

As Spouse of the Heart of Jesus, she must be for Him a living response of love . . . and He had revealed to her the secret of the love that He looks for from His Society: “the most tender and most generous love.”

As Spouse of His Heart, she must penetrate into its wound, fathom its depths and unite herself with His sorrow at the blindness and loss of souls. . . . He had taught her that a life surrendered and united to Him in reparation had redemptive power.

As Spouse of His Heart, chosen by this God and Saviour to be an instrument of His love and mercy for souls whom He loves so tenderly, she must share His intense longing for them . . . and He had shared with her the burning zeal of His Heart, by showing her the whole world as the object of their mutual love.

During the years of her religious formation, therefore, she had penetrated deeply into the grace of the special vocation by which every religious of the Sacred Heart is called to live as spouse, victim, and apostle.

Jesus Christ had emphasized, in all His guidance of her, every point of the Rule and had also from the beginning of her religious life made clear to her His idea of this Society “founded on love,” as He said one day, “and whose life and end is love.” (June 12th, 1923).

But this was still only the preparation for a greater plan.

He had spoken to Josefa many times of these plans. In spite of her fear and resistance, He had led her powerfully though very gently towards unconditional surrender of herself to her mission, which He gradually explained. On the day of her Vows, after reaf-firming all His rights over her, did He not say these suggestive words: “And now, I shall begin my work”? (July 16th, 1923).

This work, which He Himself called the greatest of His love, was to become clear and be accomplished during the eighteen months that would complete Josefa’s short life on earth.

But He who was guiding her and was at work within her kept her ever conscious that she was a weak and worthless instrument such as God always prefers. This is why Our Lord allowed her to experience her weakness in the daily fight in which she would be faithful to the end: temptation, the devil, Hell itself would ever be the greatest of her sufferings. These God put in the balance against her graces, so that Josefa became rooted in the consciousness of her own lowliness and nothingness. These God used as a goad which gave her no moment of rest in view of the sins of the world, souls to be saved, and the fire that was consuming the Heart of her Master.

Before going on to the last and most important stage of Josefa’s life, ought we not to pause for a moment to look at the past and the future? . . . The design of this work of love then becomes clearer in a twofold plan which seems to summarize it and at the same time allow us to “admire all its details,” as Our Lord said.

What at once stands out in Our Lord’s teaching, as in His action on Josefa, is its doctrinal character which sets in relief the guiding principles of our Faith. He seems to have wished to remind souls of these principles by a divine object lesson.

The Sovereign Dominion of the Creator over His creature and what this implies of dependence on the Divine Will and surrender to His guidance appears in the first place as the solid foundation of true love.

At the same time the whole history of Josefa is indeed that of Divine Providence which makes no mistakes in its ways. “As you are very small,” Our Lord said to her one day, “you must let yourself be controlled and guided by My fatherly hand which is powerful and infinitely strong” (May 26th, 1923). “I will mold you as is best for My glory and for souls” (August 7th, 1922). “Do not fear, for I am looking after you with jealous care, such care as the tenderest of mothers takes of her little child” (May 3rd, 1923). Magnificent definition of divine fidelity, which can say to us at the turning-point of life, as He said to Josefa: “I never fail My word!”

We are constantly reminded of the presence of Grace giving life to the soul, the foundation of its incorporation with Christ. “I am in her,” He said. “I live in her; I delight in making but one thing with her” (December 5th, 1923). But in return He asks her never to leave Him alone . . . to consult Him about everything . . . to ask Him for everything . . . to clothe herself with Him and disappear beneath His life: “The more you disappear, the more shall I be your life” (June 5th, 1923). Is not this a commentary on the words of Saint Paul: “I live, now not I but Christ liveth in me”?

Then light is thrown on the value of this life­giving union with Him, transforming the least activities by gilding them with the supernatural. More than once and in tangible ways Our Lord showed Josefa what love can make of the most insignificant actions when they are united to Him. So, He wished to revive in souls the joy of believing in the wealth at our disposal. “How many souls would regain courage,” He said, “if they realized the results of their efforts” (August 7th, 1922). “And how great is the value of a day of divine life” (December 2nd, 1922).

Here we reach the dogma which seems central in this wonderful teaching, participation in the infinite merits of Jesus Christ. Our Lord constantly reminds Josefa of this power over the treasures of His redemption given to the baptized soul. If He asks her to complete in herself what is wanting in His Passion, to repair for the world and to satisfy the Father’s justice, it is always with Him, through Him, in Him. “My Heart is yours, take it and repair with it” (October 15th, 1923). Then He makes those offerings all powerful over the Heart of the Father, which Josefa heard and passed on to us: “Good Father, Holy Father, Merciful Father! Accept the Blood of Your Son . . . His Wounds . . . His Heart! Look upon His head pierced with thorns . . . do not allow His Blood to be once more useless” (September 26th, 1922). “Do not forget that the time for justice has not yet come, but that now is the hour of mercy” (February 11th, 1922).

Lastly the great reality of the communion of Saints runs through the warp and weft of Josefa’s vocation and forms the background of the picture of her life. Our Blessed Lady, Mediatrix of all Grace and Mother of Mercy, has her special place in the center of this wonderful exchange of graces and merits, between the Saints in Heaven, the souls in Purgatory and the Church Militant on earth. . . . Only Hell is excluded. Josefa, a tiny member of the Mystical Body of Christ, learns from Him the repercussions in the world of souls of fidelity, sacrifice, suffering, and prayer.

But beyond these doctrinal lessons which seem already very valuable, the Direct Message which the Heart of Jesus will entrust to her to pass on to the world is an appeal of Love and Mercy. One day she said to her Master: “Lord, I do not understand what this work is that you are always telling me about.” “You do not know what My work is?” He answered. “It is love . . . I want to use you to reveal more than ever before the mercy and love of My Heart. The words or desires that I give to the world through you will rouse zeal in many souls and will prevent the loss of many others, and they will gain an ever fuller realization that the mercy of My Heart is inexhaustible” (November 22nd, 1922).

“From time to time,” He said on another occasion, “I long to make a new appeal of love . . .” (August 29th, 1922). “True, I have no need of you . . . but let Me ask you for love and let Me show Myself once more to souls through you” (December 15th, 1922).

This great plan of love was, indeed, entrusted to Josefa by means of heavenly conversations carried on with her from time to time during the last months of her life. Jesus would choose the day and the time to meet her in the little cell where so often already He had shown her His Heart or brought her His Cross. She could not foresee His calls. Now He wanted her to be ready to write at His dictation on several consecutive days, now He would give her no more of His message for some weeks. Sometimes He would dictate only a few lines hastily, and at others He would keep her a long while on her knees gathering from His sacred lips the secrets of His Heart.

The book, Un Appel à l’Amour (Soeur Josefa Menéndez, Religieuse coadjutrice de la Société du Sacré­Coeur de Jesus, 1890–1923), has already given these words grouped in such a way that their meaning is brought out. In the present book the natural framework of the day to day writing will make the words themselves stand out more clearly. But it seems good to preface them with a broad preliminary synthesis so that souls may more easily grasp the meaning of this new manifestation of the Heart of Jesus.

He wants to reign in souls by giving them a more secure knowledge of His goodness, His love and His mercy. This is the testimony that He came on earth to give to His Father: Deus Caritas est, and this is what He wants His followers to know and say of Him.

He wants by this new outpouring of His love to gain not only their love in return for His own but the trust that He values still more because it proves the tenderness of their affection and is the source of the most generous love.

He wants to attract and revivify souls by faith in the merciful kindness of His Heart which is so little understood, and believed in still less.

He wants chosen souls to have their sense of security in His love strengthened by deeper experimental knowledge of His Heart, and He expects them to spread the knowledge thus acquired to those who know Him but little or not at all.

He wants His appeal to waken slumbering souls . . . to raise the fallen . . . to appease the cravings of the hungry . . . and that everywhere, even to the ends of the earth. . . . And He expresses this desire so positively that one cannot remain insensible to this burning appeal of His love.

At the same time He stresses the fact that in the order of God’s Providence His plans depend, in part, on the free cooperation of men, a cooperation which He asks of all who have understood the meaning of His plans, the eagerness of His expectations and the significance of the redemptive means He employs. “When souls know My wishes,” He said, “they will spare nothing, neither trouble, nor effort, nor suffering” (December 5th, 1923).

This is exactly how Josefa had understood the divine hunger and thirst which were to consume her life in a very few months.
"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
Reply
#25
BOOK TWO - THE MESSAGE OF LOVE

PART ONE

PRELIMINARY EXPLANATION


As soon as Josefa had made her vows it became clear that God had chosen her with a view to a great plan of love. All the grace of her vocation, developed in her soul by divine love, had prepared her for this work.

As Spouse of the Heart of Jesus, she must be for Him a living response of love . . . and He had revealed to her the secret of the love that He looks for from His Society: “the most tender and most generous love.”

As Spouse of His Heart, she must penetrate into its wound, fathom its depths and unite herself with His sorrow at the blindness and loss of souls. . . . He had taught her that a life surrendered and united to Him in reparation had redemptive power.

As Spouse of His Heart, chosen by this God and Saviour to be an instrument of His love and mercy for souls whom He loves so tenderly, she must share His intense longing for them . . . and He had shared with her the burning zeal of His Heart, by showing her the whole world as the object of their mutual love.

During the years of her religious formation, therefore, she had penetrated deeply into the grace of the special vocation by which every religious of the Sacred Heart is called to live as spouse, victim, and apostle.

Jesus Christ had emphasized, in all His guidance of her, every point of the Rule and had also from the beginning of her religious life made clear to her His idea of this Society “founded on love,” as He said one day, “and whose life and end is love.” (June 12th, 1923).

But this was still only the preparation for a greater plan.

He had spoken to Josefa many times of these plans. In spite of her fear and resistance, He had led her powerfully though very gently towards unconditional surrender of herself to her mission, which He gradually explained. On the day of her Vows, after reaf-firming all His rights over her, did He not say these suggestive words: “And now, I shall begin my work”? (July 16th, 1923).

This work, which He Himself called the greatest of His love, was to become clear and be accomplished during the eighteen months that would complete Josefa’s short life on earth.

But He who was guiding her and was at work within her kept her ever conscious that she was a weak and worthless instrument such as God always prefers. This is why Our Lord allowed her to experience her weakness in the daily fight in which she would be faithful to the end: temptation, the devil, Hell itself would ever be the greatest of her sufferings. These God put in the balance against her graces, so that Josefa became rooted in the consciousness of her own lowliness and nothingness. These God used as a goad which gave her no moment of rest in view of the sins of the world, souls to be saved, and the fire that was consuming the Heart of her Master.

Before going on to the last and most important stage of Josefa’s life, ought we not to pause for a moment to look at the past and the future? . . . The design of this work of love then becomes clearer in a twofold plan which seems to summarize it and at the same time allow us to “admire all its details,” as Our Lord said.

What at once stands out in Our Lord’s teaching, as in His action on Josefa, is its doctrinal character which sets in relief the guiding principles of our Faith. He seems to have wished to remind souls of these principles by a divine object lesson.

The Sovereign Dominion of the Creator over His creature and what this implies of dependence on the Divine Will and surrender to His guidance appears in the first place as the solid foundation of true love.

At the same time the whole history of Josefa is indeed that of Divine Providence which makes no mistakes in its ways. “As you are very small,” Our Lord said to her one day, “you must let yourself be controlled and guided by My fatherly hand which is powerful and infinitely strong” (May 26th, 1923). “I will mold you as is best for My glory and for souls” (August 7th, 1922). “Do not fear, for I am looking after you with jealous care, such care as the tenderest of mothers takes of her little child” (May 3rd, 1923). Magnificent definition of divine fidelity, which can say to us at the turning-point of life, as He said to Josefa: “I never fail My word!”

We are constantly reminded of the presence of Grace giving life to the soul, the foundation of its incorporation with Christ. “I am in her,” He said. “I live in her; I delight in making but one thing with her” (December 5th, 1923). But in return He asks her never to leave Him alone . . . to consult Him about everything . . . to ask Him for everything . . . to clothe herself with Him and disappear beneath His life: “The more you disappear, the more shall I be your life” (June 5th, 1923). Is not this a commentary on the words of Saint Paul: “I live, now not I but Christ liveth in me”?

Then light is thrown on the value of this life­giving union with Him, transforming the least activities by gilding them with the supernatural. More than once and in tangible ways Our Lord showed Josefa what love can make of the most insignificant actions when they are united to Him. So, He wished to revive in souls the joy of believing in the wealth at our disposal. “How many souls would regain courage,” He said, “if they realized the results of their efforts” (August 7th, 1922). “And how great is the value of a day of divine life” (December 2nd, 1922).

Here we reach the dogma which seems central in this wonderful teaching, participation in the infinite merits of Jesus Christ. Our Lord constantly reminds Josefa of this power over the treasures of His redemption given to the baptized soul. If He asks her to complete in herself what is wanting in His Passion, to repair for the world and to satisfy the Father’s justice, it is always with Him, through Him, in Him. “My Heart is yours, take it and repair with it” (October 15th, 1923). Then He makes those offerings all powerful over the Heart of the Father, which Josefa heard and passed on to us: “Good Father, Holy Father, Merciful Father! Accept the Blood of Your Son . . . His Wounds . . . His Heart! Look upon His head pierced with thorns . . . do not allow His Blood to be once more useless” (September 26th, 1922). “Do not forget that the time for justice has not yet come, but that now is the hour of mercy” (February 11th, 1922).

Lastly the great reality of the communion of Saints runs through the warp and weft of Josefa’s vocation and forms the background of the picture of her life. Our Blessed Lady, Mediatrix of all Grace and Mother of Mercy, has her special place in the center of this wonderful exchange of graces and merits, between the Saints in Heaven, the souls in Purgatory and the Church Militant on earth. . . . Only Hell is excluded. Josefa, a tiny member of the Mystical Body of Christ, learns from Him the repercussions in the world of souls of fidelity, sacrifice, suffering, and prayer.

But beyond these doctrinal lessons which seem already very valuable, the Direct Message which the Heart of Jesus will entrust to her to pass on to the world is an appeal of Love and Mercy. One day she said to her Master: “Lord, I do not understand what this work is that you are always telling me about.” “You do not know what My work is?” He answered. “It is love . . . I want to use you to reveal more than ever before the mercy and love of My Heart. The words or desires that I give to the world through you will rouse zeal in many souls and will prevent the loss of many others, and they will gain an ever fuller realization that the mercy of My Heart is inexhaustible” (November 22nd, 1922).

“From time to time,” He said on another occasion, “I long to make a new appeal of love . . .” (August 29th, 1922). “True, I have no need of you . . . but let Me ask you for love and let Me show Myself once more to souls through you” (December 15th, 1922).

This great plan of love was, indeed, entrusted to Josefa by means of heavenly conversations carried on with her from time to time during the last months of her life. Jesus would choose the day and the time to meet her in the little cell where so often already He had shown her His Heart or brought her His Cross. She could not foresee His calls. Now He wanted her to be ready to write at His dictation on several consecutive days, now He would give her no more of His message for some weeks. Sometimes He would dictate only a few lines hastily, and at others He would keep her a long while on her knees gathering from His sacred lips the secrets of His Heart.

The book, Un Appel à l’Amour (Soeur Josefa Menéndez, Religieuse coadjutrice de la Société du Sacré­Coeur de Jesus, 1890–1923), has already given these words grouped in such a way that their meaning is brought out. In the present book the natural framework of the day to day writing will make the words themselves stand out more clearly. But it seems good to preface them with a broad preliminary synthesis so that souls may more easily grasp the meaning of this new manifestation of the Heart of Jesus.

He wants to reign in souls by giving them a more secure knowledge of His goodness, His love and His mercy. This is the testimony that He came on earth to give to His Father: Deus Caritas est, and this is what He wants His followers to know and say of Him.

He wants by this new outpouring of His love to gain not only their love in return for His own but the trust that He values still more because it proves the tenderness of their affection and is the source of the most generous love.

He wants to attract and revivify souls by faith in the merciful kindness of His Heart which is so little understood, and believed in still less.

He wants chosen souls to have their sense of security in His love strengthened by deeper experimental knowledge of His Heart, and He expects them to spread the knowledge thus acquired to those who know Him but little or not at all.

He wants His appeal to waken slumbering souls . . . to raise the fallen . . . to appease the cravings of the hungry . . . and that everywhere, even to the ends of the earth. . . . And He expresses this desire so positively that one cannot remain insensible to this burning appeal of His love.

At the same time He stresses the fact that in the order of God’s Providence His plans depend, in part, on the free cooperation of men, a cooperation which He asks of all who have understood the meaning of His plans, the eagerness of His expectations and the significance of the redemptive means He employs. “When souls know My wishes,” He said, “they will spare nothing, neither trouble, nor effort, nor suffering” (December 5th, 1923).

This is exactly how Josefa had understood the divine hunger and thirst which were to consume her life in a very few months.
"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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BOOK TWO - THE MESSAGE OF LOVE

Chapter VII. THE MESSAGE IS INAUGURATED


PART I. OUR LORD’S FIRST REQUESTS  August 8th–September 30th, 1922

I want to make a new appeal of love heard.” (Our Lord to Josefa, August 29th, 1922)

THE month of August 1922 had just begun, three weeks had elapsed since the graces of July 16th and the days that followed, and yet nothing seemed changed in Josefa’s life. She was working with her usual earnestness and fidelity. Perhaps her charity was more expansive and her recollection deeper . . . But to all appearances she had just slipped back into the hiddenness of her soul’s secret life. God was about to deepen in her the sense of her nothingness as His instrument, a purpose which His love could carry out only in hiddenness and silence.

“I cannot account for the fact that for about a week I have felt that I know myself as I never did before,” she wrote on August 10th. It is a sight that fills me with sorrow and shame, especially as Jesus is so good to me.”

On Monday, August 14th, eve of the Assumption, she went on:

“While I was at my needlework today, I was struck by the thought: Why am I so ungenerous and always so afraid of pain? . . . I understood that I look too much at myself and not enough at Him. This cannot continue, for I shall not live long, and soon I shall be unable to work for His glory. I have asked leave to make a Holy Hour to console Him for my lack of generosity, and a day of retreat to ask Him to teach me how to keep my eyes riveted on Him, His Will, His glory, His Heart, without any self-occupation.”

On Tuesday, August 15th, Feast of the Assumption, under the protection of Our Lady, she began this day of solitude. “As soon as I awoke,” she wrote, “I took my stand close to Jesus, and asked Him to teach me how to love Him with a true love: this is my one desire.”

Our Lord answered her prayer by giving her an overwhelming conviction of her nothingness. He made her realize her nothingness and kept her thus annihilated before His face. “As I made my thanksgiving I prayed to be filled with as great a confidence in His Heart as shame for my sins.”

But the Master of love willed that she should delve yet deeper into the knowledge of her littleness. He gave her a very clear, if symbolic view of it, and Josefa endeavored to explain it in the following terms:

“During the course of the morning of the 15th, without exactly knowing where I was, I suddenly found myself in a very dark and foggy place. It resembled a dark and dank little garden full of weeds, of thorny bushes whose stems devoid of leafage were entwined and twisted together. . . . There then occurred a slight lift in the mist, like a ray of sunlight, and I was able to distinguish the litter of grass and thistles which concealed a murky pond from which arose a fetid odor. Then it all disappeared. I was at a loss to know what it all meant, but I went to the Chapel and thought no more about it. But the one thing I kept on begging of Jesus all day was that I might love Him with a true love and fix my gaze constantly on Him. Suddenly He came before me, O! so wonderfully beautiful, and from His Heart there flashed forth a great light, and He said to me with much affection:

“ ‘My beloved, I am the sun that shows you your misery; the greater you see it to be, the more must your love for Me increase. Be not dismayed, the fire of My Heart will consume the wretchedness of yours. If your soul is tainted and corrupt and incapable of producing any fruit, I am He who tills it and I will send a ray of sunlight to purify and cleanse it. . . . I will sow seed in it. . . . Remain small, very small. . . . Am I not great enough? I am your God, I am your Bridegroom, and you are the misery of My Heart!’ ”

The Feast of the Assumption did not end without a visit from the Mother of God, and she, too, reminded Josefa that Jesus meant to make use of her very misery to further His great work.

It was while Josefa and her Sisters were saying the Rosary in the oratory of the Noviceship that she appeared:

“She was clothed,” said Josefa, “as on the day of my vows, a diadem crowned her head, her hands were crossed on her breast and a little wreath of white roses encircled her heart.

“ ‘These flowers will be changed into pearls of great price for the salvation of souls,’ she said, looking first at the novices kneeling round her statue.”

And then turning to Josefa: “Yes, souls are what Jesus loves most; I, too, love them for they are the price of His Blood and so many are lost forever. Do not resist His Will, daughter, and never refuse Him anything He asks of you. Surrender yourself wholly to the work of His Heart which is none other than the salvation of souls.”

She gave her a few personal directions, and added: “Have no fear—the Will of Jesus will be done, and His great work accomplished.” Then she disappeared.

Our Lady’s words, by throwing light on the work into which God’s Will was gradually initiating Josefa, reawakened all her fears. Never to refuse her cooperation with this divine plan would remain to the end of her life a constant struggle for Josefa.

On Saturday, August 19th, whilst she was at her sewing, Jesus came. “Go and ask permission,” He said.

Soon after, He followed her to her little cell, where on her knees she renewed her vows. So wondrous was the presence before her that she was at a loss how to express her love. “Yes, say again that you love Me. . . . I love your misery, Josefa!”

She told Him of the repugnance she could not master, when by obedience she had to tell the Mothers the wishes that He communicated to her. “All I ask you to say, hard as it seems to you, is for the good of souls. . . . No one will ever know how dearly I love them.”

Then He continued: “None of you know how dear this house is to Me. I have cast on it a look of predilection. Here I have found misery which I can use as an instrument of My love. I have placed My Cross in the keeping of this group of souls. They do not carry it alone, for I am with them and I help them. Love is proved by deeds. I have suffered because I love them; it is now their turn to suffer because they love Me.”

Two days later Our Lord again reminded Josefa that the spirit of faith would keep her in the safe way of obedience.

It would seem that before confiding to her His dearest wishes for mankind, He wanted to safeguard the authenticity of His declarations by Josefa’s dependence on others, which He was to exact from her to the end as a sign of His presence. “I tell you,” He said to her on Monday, August 21st, “I Myself direct all that happens and I will never allow you to be led by any path but the one I have chosen. Have confidence, and look only at Me, at My hand which is guiding you and at My tenderness which surrounds you with the love of a Father and Bridegroom.”

The days went by, leaving Josefa expectant, not knowing what her Master would do.

On Thursday, August 24th, during meditation, He showed Himself to her and merely said: “Ask leave for Me to speak to you.”

Josefa obtained leave, but Jesus did not return. She was not, however, upset by this for she had delivered herself over to His sweet Will whom alone she desired.

On Tuesday, the 29th, whilst she was sitting alone at her sewing in the Sisters’ room, a well-known voice startled her: “It is I!”

She threw herself on her knees; it was Jesus. She prostrated herself to the very ground in adoration, and with a full heart exclaimed: “Is it indeed Thou, dear Lord? I have been expecting Thee for the last five days and was beginning to fear that perhaps I had displeased Thee.”

“No, Josefa, I take pleasure in the expectant love of My friends. There are so many who never think of Me.”

“Go to your cell; I will come too.”

In a few seconds Josefa had reached her cell, to find that He was already there:

“I asked Him if it would please Him if I renewed my vows.

“ ‘Yes,’ He answered at once, ‘every time you renew them I tighten the bonds that unite you to Me.’

“Then I begged Him never to allow me to resist His Will, nor to let my wretchedness be an obstacle to His work.

“ ‘Never will your wretchedness force Me to leave you, Josefa. Do you not know that it is on account of it that I have chosen you?’ ”

After a long pause Our Lord spoke again very solemnly: “Write now how My consecrated ones are to make My fatherly Heart known to sinners.”

Then kneeling at her small writing-table, she wrote under His dictation:

“I know the very depths of souls, their passions, their attraction for the world and its pleasures; I have known from all eternity how many of them will fill My Heart with bitterness, and that for a great number both My sufferings and My blood will be in vain. . . . But having loved them, I love them still. . . . My Heart is not so much wounded by sin, as torn with grief that they will not take refuge with Me after it.

“I want to forgive, I want the world to know through My chosen ones that My Heart is overflowing with love and mercy and is waiting for sinners.”

“Here,” Josefa said, “I told Him that they know it already, and that He must not forget how wretched I am, and quite capable of obstructing all His plans. . . .

“ ‘I know well that souls do know it,’ He answered energetically and kindly, ‘but from time to time I must make them hear a fresh call.

“ ‘And now I want to use you, little and miserable one. You have but one thing to do: love Me and abandon yourself to My Will. I will keep you hidden in My Heart and none shall discover you. My words will not be read till after you are dead.

“Ya sé que as almas lo saben—pero de tiempo en tiempo necesito hacer una nueva llamada de amor. Y ahora quiero servirme de ti, pequeña y miserable criatura. Nada tienes que hacer: ámame y queda abandonada a mi voluntad. Yo te tendré escondida en mi Corazón. Nadie te descubrirá. Sólo después de tu muerte se leerán mis palabras.”

Throw yourself, therefore, into My Heart and with immense love I will sustain you . . . Do you not realize, Josefa, My fondness for you? Have I not given you enough proofs already?’ ”
And as Josefa again humbly put forward her many relapses . . .”I have foreseen them from all eternity and that is why I love you,” was all His reply.

Two days later, on August 31st, Our Lord made His Will clear: “I want you to write, Josefa,” and with more insistence, “I want to speak to you of the souls I so love. I want them always to be able to find in My words a remedy for their infirmities.”

However, the next day, Our Lord did not summon her to write, but He set before her generosity one of those long and painful redemptive enterprises of which she had had experience before her vows. This appeal is part of the Message that He wished to transmit to souls through the very life of Josefa.

In this month of September 1922 we must watch Our Lord’s pursuit of a “much-loved soul” as He Himself called it, the soul of a consecrated priest. With Josefa, we must enter into the unfathomable grief of Jesus, if we would understand the loving reparation demanded, and the redemptive suffering exacted.

“On the evening of the First Friday, September 1st,” wrote Josefa, “as I was about to retire to rest and was kissing my crucifix of vows, my beautiful Jesus showed Himself to me.

“Then He spoke of souls with immense tenderness, and especially of three that had been confided to our prayers a few days before, and as if the thought of them had suddenly become a heavy weight on His Heart, He said: ‘Two of them are still far, very far from Me . . . but the one that grieves Me most is the third. I cannot let justice operate rigorously in regard of the first two, as they know Me less well, but the other is a priest, consecrated to Me in religion . . . one I dearly love. . . . he himself is opening the abyss into which he will fall, if he continues obstinate in sin.’ ”

On Sunday, September 3rd, after Communion, Josefa again saw the Master. He shone with incomparable beauty, and resting His eyes on the nuns who were deep in their thanksgiving, He said with deep feeling: “I am enthroned in hearts that I have Myself prepared. My consecrated ones cannot possibly realize how greatly they relieve the sorrow of My Heart by giving Me entry into theirs. No doubt they are small and miserable, but they belong to no one but Me. Their wretchedness I condone, for all I want is their love. Weakness and worthlessness are of small account; what I want is their trust. These are the souls who draw down on the world mercy and peace; were it not for them, divine justice could hardly be restrained . . . there is so much sin.”

“Then,” said Josefa, “His Heart seemed oppressed, and appeared as one great wound. . . . I tried to comfort Him. He looked at me sadly and continued: ‘Innumerable are the sins committed, and innumerable the souls that are damned . . . But what wounds My Heart above measure is the sinfulness of those that are consecrated to Me . . . that soul sins, I love him, and he despises Me. I have to submit even so far as to descend onto the altar at his command, to allow his polluted hands to touch Me . . . and to enter his heart, the hideous home of sin. Let Me hide Myself in your heart, Josefa. Poor, poor soul! if he but realized the agony he is preparing for himself for all eternity.’

“I begged Him to take pity on that soul, and reminded Him how He loves to forgive. I offered Him all the affection of His Blessed Mother, of the Saints, and of all good men on earth, and then the sufferings of this house which are considerable at this moment. He answered: ‘My justice will be restrained as long as I find victims who will make reparation.’ ”

He then told Josefa that He would make her go through the torments of Hell reserved for those who had made vows but been unfaithful to them—

“ ‘In order to stimulate your zeal,’ He said, ‘and that later my souls may know the sufferings they risk enduring.’

“Then as if speaking to Himself, He said: ‘Ah! soul that I love, why do you despise Me? Is it not enough that worldlings sin against Me, but you who are consecrated to My service, why do you treat Me thus? What an agony My Heart endures when treated with such indignity by one whom I chose with so much love.’ ”

It was on Monday, September 4th, that Josefa underwent, as the Master had decreed, the torments due to religious condemned to Hell. She had not been in contact with that place of indescribable torture since the month of July. This time she was conscious that she bore on her the mark of one vowed and consecrated, and consequently specially beloved.

“I cannot explain how terrible that suffering was, for if that of a worldling is unspeakable, it fades into insignificance when compared with that of a religious.”

Words cannot render what she endured; she noted, however, that the three words Poverty, Chastity and Obedience constantly recurred, impressing themselves on the soul with an accusing power that was fraught with poignant remorse.

“Freely you took your vows, knowing fully what it meant . . . you bound yourself . . . you yourself willed it . . .” and the inexpressible anguish of the soul lies in the fact that it unceasingly assents: “Yes, I did it of my own free will. I could have not done it, but I freely vowed and promised . . . I was free . . .”

She wrote further:

“The soul constantly remembers that she had made choice of God for her Spouse and that she had loved Him above all things . . . that for His sake she had foregone the most legitimate pleasures, and all she held dearest in the world . . . that in the beginning of religious life she had enjoyed the sweetness, the strength and the purity of divine love, and now, for indulging an inordinate passion . . . she must forever hate the God who had elected her to love Him . . .

“This fatal compulsion to hate is like a devouring and parching thirst . . . memory gives no relief.

“One of the most acute torments is that of shame . . . it is as if all the damned around her continually taunted her with her sin. ‘That we should be lost is not extraordinary, for we never had the helps that you had. But you! What more could you have had? . . . You who lived in the very palace of the King . . . and sat at the board of the elect!’

“All I write is but a pale shadow of the reality, for words cannot declare an agony so extreme.”

After her return from the abyss of everlasting woe Josefa devoted herself more than ever to the task of saving souls from its dismal depths. She understood as never before the crime of a consecrated soul’s defection, the wound in Our Lord’s Heart, and above all His burning desire to save from such torments souls that He loves so tenderly (see Appendix).

On Wednesday, September 6th, Our Lord appeared to her at Mass; she was startled at the sight of His marvellous beauty and deep sadness. His Heart was sorely wounded. She tried to comfort Him, and in replying He assumed the aspect of a mendicant asking an alms:

“I ask you only for your heart, that I may hide therein, and forget the bitterness caused Me by that soul, when I am forced to enter it. O! that it is these very souls whom I love so specially who treat Me so: this is My grief!”

After Communion He repeated:

“You whom I love as the apple of My eye, hide and shelter Me in your heart.”

“I answered Him with all the affection of which I am capable; I begged Him to hide in its very depths . . . Would that my heart were not so small and that it might afford Him repose.

“ ‘It does not matter that it is small! I will expand it, but let it be all Mine.’ ”

Then slowly and with long pauses, to sink her deep in each longing of His Sacred Heart, Jesus helped her to make her thanksgiving.

“Console Me . . . love Me . . . Glorify Me through My Heart . . . Make reparation and satisfy divine justice by It. . . . Offer It to God the Father as a Victim of love for souls . . . and in a special way for those vowed and consecrated to Me. . . . Live with Me and I will live with you. . . . Hide in Me and I will sink deep into your heart.”

Then He recalled to her mind the union of reparation He wished to realize in her soul:

“We shall comfort one another, for My pain will be yours, and your suffering Mine.”

Surely this was the same understanding of that union of vocation which once drew from the soul of the holy Foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart the prayer: “May there never be any other cross for a religious of the Sacred Heart than the Cross of Christ.”

Every night, as had now become usual, the Master brought Josefa His Cross which He asked her to carry for the priest that was causing Him such sorrow.

“Will you carry My Cross?” He asked her.

And instantly she offered herself to take it from His sacred shoulders.

On Friday, September 8th, towards evening He came “as a poor man hungry and begging” she wrote, thus accurately describing the atmosphere of sad appeal that seemed to envelop His whole Person.

“O slake My thirst to be loved by souls, especially to be loved by those I have chosen. . . . That soul is oblivious of My love,” He went on, alluding to the unfaithful priest. “It is his ingratitude that puts Me into this state.”

“Then,” wrote Josefa, “I begged Him to accept all the little acts done here, the sufferings of the house, and above all the very real desire we all have to comfort and please Him. I asked Him to purify and transform these very little things, and give them some value in His sight.

“ ‘I do not look at the act itself, I look at the intention,’ He replied. ‘The smallest act, if done out of love, acquires such merit that it gives Me immense consolation. . . . I want only love, I ask for nothing else.’ ”

Our Lady could not keep away when there was question of the saving of a soul. She came at the worst moments to reanimate Josefa’s courage. On September 9th:

“Suffer with courage and energy, dear child,” she said “Thanks to what you have been undergoing that soul has not fallen into greater sin.”

So Josefa kept herself at the disposition of Our Lord’s Will, and every morning at Mass she saw Him as a poor man worn out by fatigue and grief.

“Keep Me deep in your heart and share with Me My bitter sorrow,” He said, on September 12th, during her thanksgiving after Holy Communion. “I can bear the insults I receive from that soul no longer . . . yet I still love him,” He added with pity after a moment’s silence, “I am waiting for him . . . I want to forgive him. . . . With what affection I would greet him if he returned to Me!

“As for you, Josefa, comfort Me, draw near My Heart and share My grief.”

There was silence for a space:

“I am in pain,” He said at last, “share that pain for it is also yours.”

“On the evening of this September 12th as we were rising from our meal in the refectory, I suddenly caught sight of Our Lord.

“He was standing at the end of the refectory, resplendent in beauty, His white raiment shining in the dusk of evening. His right hand was uplifted in blessing, and as He passed in front of me I heard Him say: ‘Here I am in the midst of My beloved ones, for in them I find comfort and rest.’ ”

She followed Him up to her cell, and there He repeated the same words, adding:

“Courage, a few more efforts and that soul will return to Me.”

Others besides Josefa had a share in this ransom: there were at that time at Les Feuillants several nuns who by their acceptance of illness or infirmity were closely united to Our Lord crucified. Speaking of them Our Lord said on September 13th:

“Many are willing to entertain Me when I visit them with consolation. Many receive Me with joy in Holy Communion, but few welcome Me when I visit them with My Cross. When a soul is stretched on the cross, and is surrendered to My Will that soul glorifies Me . . . and consoles Me, and is very close to Me.”

He then made His meaning clearer still:

“It is because of the sufferings of My religious that that priest has not fallen lower still; but yet more must be undergone for his conversion.

“When he has come back to Me, Josefa,” He added, so that she might not lose sight of her mission, “I will tell you the secret of My love for souls, for I want them all to know how great it is.”

On the Feast of her Seven Dolours, September 15th, Our Lady deigned to come to tell Josefa more about this love of Our Lord’s wounded Heart.

“She was clad in pale mauve, her hands joined on her breast, and O! how lovely . . .” wrote Josefa.

“I asked her to console Our Lord herself, for though my one desire is to love Him, I do not know how to, and I need her own Heart with which to love and make reparation.

“My child,” said Our Lady sadly, “that priest is wounding my Son’s Heart . . . but he will be saved”; she added a few moments later, “but not without much suffering. It is not in vain that Jesus has given charge of him to His religious . . . Happy are those whom He chooses for so precious a trust.”

Days and nights passed during which Josefa had no relief from her sufferings of soul or body.

“Be not dismayed,” said Our Lord to her on September 21st, “for that soul will not be lost. He will soon be returning to My Heart, but when a soul is to be saved, much suffering is needed.”

This none knew better than Josefa. The devil set himself against her in furious assaults as if he had guessed the redemptive character of her sufferings for the soul he thought to have securely in his clutches. Descents into Hell were added to the other painful expiations she underwent, and night after night the Cross of Jesus lay heavy on her shoulder. On the September 25th, after a more than usually painful night, Our Lord manifested Himself to her:

“His Heart had no wound and was transfused with light and beauty. ‘See! . . . that soul has come back to Me and has allowed grace to triumph. O love Me, and refuse Me nothing to obtain for Me the love of many other souls.’ ”

The following day He said to her: “That priest has thrown himself into My arms and his sin is forgiven. . . . Go on offering your sufferings with Me that he may have the strength to climb the steep ascent to a finish.”

A few days later Our Lord told Josefa with overflowing joy: “That soul is seeking Me . . . I await his coming with tender longing, and no favors will be too great to bestow on him.”

Finally on October 20th Jesus confirmed this conversion so dearly bought: “He is now deep in My Heart, and his own retains only the painful but meritorious remembrance of his fall.”

Who on reading this account can doubt that the lost sheep is ever the best loved—the Prodigal Son the most eagerly sought and the most tenderly received?

But Our Lord did not allow Josefa any long respite. Her mission ceased neither day nor night, since souls are in peril and the world is full of sin. Such is the lesson He seems to be teaching us through her, by continually inviting her to new enterprises.

“On the evening of September 26th I met Him near the chapel, His head was crowned with thorns, His face bedewed with blood, but His Heart was all fire.

“ ‘Josefa,’ He said, ‘do not forget to make the Stations of the Cross.’

“I obtained leave, and as I ended them, He came back and said: ‘We must save two souls from a great danger. Offer yourself as a victim for them.’ And stressing all that the word meant to Him, He added: ‘That is, leave Me free to do with you whatever I will.’

“Straightway my soul was filled with pain and anguish, and I knew not what to offer for the salvation of those souls.”

She obtained leave for certain penances, and unceasingly united herself to the Precious Blood. Towards evening Our Lord joined her in her cell.

“With clasped hands and eyes turned heavenward, He said gravely and impressively: ‘Eternal Father, Father of mercies, accept the blood of Thy Son, accept His wounds, accept His Heart for these souls.’ He paused, and a moment later repeated the same words: ‘Eternal Father, accept the blood of Thy Son, accept His wounds, accept His Heart. Consider His thorn-crowned head. Let not His blood be once more shed in vain. See His thirst to save these souls for Thee . . . O Father, do not allow them to be lost . . . Save them that they may eternally glorify Thee.’ ”

The next night was spent in anxiety and prayer, for Josefa could think of nothing but souls in danger.

At dawn on Wednesday, September 27th, Jesus, most beautiful, His Heart on fire, stood by her during her thanksgiving. Ever faithful to obedience, she renewed her vows.

“Tell Me once again of your love. Josefa, I will tell you one of the secrets of My Heart . . . O help Me in this undertaking of love.

“Lord,” she answered, hardly knowing how to respond to His passionate appeal, “Thou knowest that I have no other desire myself . . . I long to give Thee souls . . . that they may console Thee . . . that Thou mayest be known and loved . . . but how can my littleness be of any use to Thee?”

The Master then explained: “There are some souls that suffer in order to obtain for others strength not to consent to evil. If those two souls had fallen into sin yesterday, they would have been eternally lost. The little acts you did obtained for them the courage to stand firm.”

Josefa was surprised that such little things could have such vast repercussions.

“Yes, My Heart gives divine worth to these little offerings, for what I want is love! I am in search of love. I love souls and I look for a response of love. What is so wounding to My Heart is that often instead of love I meet with indifference. Give Me love and give Me souls . . . unite all your actions to My Heart. Stay with Me who am with you. I am Love and desire only love. O! if souls only realized how I wait for them in mercy. I am the Love of all loves, and it is My joy to forgive.”

Thus ended with the month of September these enterprises of reparation and salvation through which Our Lord seems to have wanted to write the preface of His Message. “I will speak by you, I will act in you, and I will make Myself known through you,” He had said (August 7th, 1922) and He who in His life on earth began by action rather than by preaching, kept faithfully to the same method now.

Before dictating, and even while He was making her write down the revelations of His love and mercy, He willed that they should be found also one by one and day by day in the ordinary course of Josefa’s life.

Thus would souls better understand the significance of the Message that His Heart was about to give them, if they saw it also in the life-history of His messenger.
"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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#27
BOOK TWO - THE MESSAGE OF LOVE

Chapter VII. THE MESSAGE IS INAUGURATED


PART II. APPEAL TO CONSECRATED SOULS October 1st–November 21st, 1922

Do My chosen souls know of what treasures they deprive themselves and others, when they are not generous?” (Our Lord to Josefa, September 20th, 1922)

As often happened in Josefa’s redemptive life, trials quickly followed on the more luminous hours when, together with her Divine Master, she had worked for the saving of particular souls. The devil revenged himself for his defeats by a recrudescence of attacks and the infliction of fresh torments. In reality this was all part of the divine plan. Love was endowing the instrument with new capacity for grace, in order to unite it more closely to Himself and use it at His pleasure.

The opening days of October 1922 passed painfully enough, Josefa meanwhile carried on her usual occupations.

It was at this time that she was entrusted with the making of the school uniforms, and certainly her skill as a dressmaker marked her out as well fitted for the work. This did not prevent her helping when all were called to general work in the laundry, ironing-room, etc. She had care also of the Auxiliary Chapel which was situated at the end of a very large inner courtyard, and was separated from the rest of the house. This she kept exquisitely neat and clean, under the direction of the Mother Sacristan, who greatly appreciated her help. Added to this she had charge of the little oratory which had been the cell of Saint Madeleine Sophie, as well as of the chapel of Saint Stanislaus, in which occasionally the Blessed Sacrament was reserved. At the same time and until the end of her life she looked after an old and infirm nun who could not help herself and whom she treated as she would her own mother, with respectful solicitude, so that the poor invalid forgot the length and weight of her trial.

It is fitting to remind ourselves from time to time how active and incessant was her humble work, that we may be able to judge better how great must have been the effort that enabled her to carry it out uninterruptedly, while her inner life moved on such a different plane. It helps us to understand how a distress of soul, at times overwhelming, was so heroically borne by this generous Sister.

On October 6th, first Friday of the month, she wrote in one of those moments of acute mental agony:

“I was weary of suffering and reflected on the uselessness of these descents into Hell . . . when suddenly I saw before me a brilliant light. It resembled the sun and dazzled the eyes, and I heard the voice of Jesus: ‘God’s Holiness is offended and His Justice demands satisfaction. No, nothing is useless. Every time I allow you to undergo the pains of Hell, sin is atoned for and the divine wrath appeased. What would become of the world if reparation were not made for offenses committed? There are too few victims . . . too few. . . . ’

“ ‘How can I make reparation when my own infidelities are so great? I am full of miseries and faults,’ answered Josefa.

“ ‘No matter, the sun of love purifies you and makes your suffering worthy to be used in reparation for the sins of the world.’ ”

This assurance strengthened her, but without diminishing the weight of Divine Justice that she bore.

Ten days later, Monday, October 16th, Our Lady came to encourage her by a signal grace, of which she gave the following account:

“It was about ten o’clock and I was working at my sewing-machine. I had put my rosary on the table nearby and whilst working said a few Aves . . . My soul was steeped in sadness as on the preceding days, and I felt exhausted by the pain in my head and side . . . It seemed as if I could bear no more, and I said to myself: ‘What shall I do if things go on like this? . . . Suddenly I saw Our Lady standing in front of the sewing-machine; O! how lovely she was, her hands crossed on her breast . . . She took my rosary by the cross with her left hand, and holding it thus, she slowly dropped it into the palm of her right hand. Then she pressed the cross on my forehead three times and said: ‘Yes, child, you can do still more . . . you are suffering for souls and to comfort Jesus.’ ”

O marvel! At the very moment of this motherly caress three drops of blood were imprinted where the cross had touched the undercap on Josefa’s forehead. She was not aware of the fact.

“Without giving me time to reply Our Lady put the rosary back on the table, and leaving me full of courage to suffer, she disappeared.”

A few moments later one of the novices who was working beside her noticed the drops of blood and told her of them. Startled, she rose and hurried to her cell. . . . Full of confusion at what had happened, she would have liked to make this proof of Heaven’s favor disappear, but she left it like all the rest to the keeping of her Mothers. The coif still bore on the exterior of the broad hem the three drops of vivid crimson blood, whereas there was no mark whatever on the inner side, which was in contact with Josefa’s head. Nor was there the slightest sign of a wound on her forehead.

The next day, Tuesday, October 17th, Our Lord was to say to His favored child:

“You will never know how much I love you. Remember what I did for you yesterday. . . . Yes, it was My blood, look on this grace as a mark of My Mother’s tender affection for you. It is My blood that purifies you and fires you with zeal. In it you will find strength and courage.”

That little coif more than once manifested the power of Him whose sign it bore. The devil could not resist a blessing given in the name of this Divine blood. One day, however, in fury the evil one contrived to get possession of the treasure which was kept most carefully under lock and key. On February 23rd, 1923 it disappeared. It could not be found, and the search was given up only when Our Lord came and reassured Josefa two days later, on Sunday, 25th: “Do not fear; it was the devil who took it, but My blood is far from exhausted.”

In answer to Josefa’s fears at the constant threats of the enemy to burn the books in which she wrote (under obedience) the words of her Master, He said to her: “With diabolic craft, he contrives numberless plans by which he hopes to spirit away My words, but in this he will not succeed, and to the end of time many souls will draw new life from them.”

On the evening of March 15th, 1923, the Feast of the Five Wounds, Our Lady renewed the favor of the three drops of blood, and as she pressed the cross of her rosary on Josefa’s forehead she said: “Offer yourself to efface the wounds caused by the sins of the world. You know the joy of His Sacred Heart when His consecrated souls offer themselves to comfort Him.”

Once again, on June 19th, 1923, through His Blessed Mother Our Lord renewed the same pledge of His loving-kindness. The two coifs, both stained with blood, are carefully preserved, and the following day Our Holy Mother, speaking of this signal grace, said to Josefa: “Let the Society keep both these treasures, and never forget how Jesus left them these precious relics. The day will come when they will be one of the proofs that will accredit the reality of His goodness in this work.”

But we have been anticipating, and must now return to the end of October 1922, when Our Lord was preparing to begin officially the great work by dictating the first Message to Josefa.

On Friday, October 20th, towards seven o’clock in the evening, she was just finishing her adoration before the Blessed Sacrament when Jesus appeared bearing His Cross.

“Josefa,” He said, “share with Me the flames that are consuming My Heart: I thirst for the salvation of souls. . . . O! if only they would come to Me! . . . If only they had no fear of Me . . . if they but had confidence in Me.

“ ‘I am all love,’ He continued, ‘and how then could I treat severely those I so love? . . . All indeed are dear to Me, but I have a great many whom I very specially favor. I have chosen them that I may find comfort in them and overwhelm them with favors . . . I will condone all their miseries . . . What I want them to realize is that I love them more tenderly still, if after their weakness and falls they throw themselves humbly into My Heart: then I pardon them . . . and I love them still.’ ”

Josefa was encouraged by such great leniency.

“I asked Him if that is the reason why He loves me so much . . . for when I ask His forgiveness immediately after, I see quite clearly that He has granted it, for I receive immediately fresh proofs of affection.

“ ‘Do you not know Josefa, that the more wretched souls are, the more I love them! . . . If amongst all others you have won My Heart, it is on account of your littleness and misery.’

“Then I asked Him for His Cross, and why He bore it on His shoulder today. Was there some soul specially wounding Him?

“He answered: ‘I am bearing the Cross because among My chosen ones, there are many that resist Me in little ways, and the sum total of these resistances makes this Cross . . .

“ ‘Do you know why they resist Me? It is because they do not love Me . . . yes, they are wanting in love for My Heart . . . their self-love is excessive.’ Then after a short pause: ‘When a soul is generous enough to give Me all I ask, she gathers up treasure for herself and others and snatches great numbers of souls from perdition. It is by their sacrifices and their love that My chosen souls are deputed by My Heart to dispense My graces to mankind.’

“He continued, as if speaking to Himself: ‘The world is full of perils . . . How many poor souls are dragged towards sin and constantly need a visible or invisible help! Ah! let Me say it again, do My chosen souls know of what treasures they deprive themselves and others, when they are ungenerous? I do not say that by the fact of My choice, a soul is freed from her faults and wretchedness. That soul may and will fall often again, but if she humbles herself, if she recognizes her nothingness, if she tries to repair her faults by little acts of generosity and love, if she confides and surrenders herself once more to My Heart . . . she gives Me more glory and can do more good to other souls, than if she had never fallen. Miseries and weaknesses are of no consequence, what I do ask of them is love.’ ”

Many a time Our Lord will come back to this great lesson, which seems to be the keynote of His Message of Mercy.

“ ‘Yes,’ He continued, ‘in spite of its miseries, a soul can love Me to folly . . . But Josefa, you must realize that I am speaking only of faults of frailty and inadvertence, not of willed sin or voluntary infidelity.’ ”

And as she begged Him to bestow on them this love which must be measureless in confidence and generosity: “ ‘Yes,’ He replied, ‘keep in your heart this desire to see Me loved. Offer your life, imperfect as it is, that all My chosen souls may realize the beautiful mission that they can carry out through their ordinary actions and in their daily struggles . . . Let them never forget that I have preferred them to so many others, not because of their goodness, but because of their wretchedness . . . I am all love, and that flame in Me consumes all their weakness.’ ”

Then addressing Josefa, who had expressed her own fears in the face of so many graces and responsibilities: “ ‘Do not fear,’ He said, ‘If I have chosen you who are poor and miserable, it is that all may realize once more that I want neither greatness nor holiness . . . but only love. I Myself will do all the rest. And I will again tell you the secrets of My Heart, Josefa . . . But the desire which consumes Me is ever the same: it is that souls may know My Heart better and better.’ ”

So on this 20th day of October 1922 the first lines of the Message of Love were written. From now on these heavenly dictations alternated with direct lessons to herself. They appeared as the combined theory and practice of His teaching.

“Shall I give you My Cross?” said Our Lord the next day, Saturday, October 21st.

“ ‘Dear Lord, You know that in reality I want only what You want.’ Then I talked to Him about souls . . . of the many that are lost.”

He answered sorrowfully: “Poor souls! Many do not know Me, but a great number do, yet leave Me for a life of enjoyment. There are so many sensual people in the world, and even among My chosen ones, there are so many who seek for pleasure! . . . They go astray, for My way is one of suffering and crosses. Only love can give them the strength to follow Me in it, that is why I want love.”

He then gave her His Cross, saying: “Comfort Me, you whom I love! It is because you are so little that you are able to creep so deeply into My Heart.”

How carefully His least words must be treasured, for they give us “the mind of Christ” of which St. Paul speaks.

On Monday October 23rd, Our Lord came to bring her into close relation with the most secret of His wounds: “There are some souls, dearly beloved by My Heart, who wound Me . . . they are not faithful enough to Me, and it is precisely because of the special love I bear them that I suffer so much.”

Appeals such as these made Josefa long to repair and compensate His Sacred Heart.

“ ‘But, dear Lord, Thou knowest me! I am all aspirations and never come to acts.’ With ardor such as I cannot express, He replied: ‘I hold you so close to My Heart, Josefa, that your longings for souls are the very same that are consuming My Heart! . . . It is rest for My Heart to be able to communicate with another. That is why I come to repose in you when a soul is grieving Me, and it is My craving to do her good that I pass into you, and so it becomes yours. It is certain that many do offend Me . . . but there are many others also that love Me and from whom I receive comfort.’ ”

Then returning to those who wound Him, He said:

“When two people love one another, a very small lack of consideration in one of them is sufficient to wound the other. And so it is with My Heart. That is why I want those who aspire to intimacy with Me to train themselves well so that later on they refuse Me nothing.”

Many days of intense suffering followed, which Josefa offered up for these unfaithful souls.

The devil tried to delude her, and multiplied his snares and threats and her nights were spent in the torments of the damned. She hesitated to tell all she saw and heard in that abode of sorrow, for her soul was dismayed by its horrors. However, she tried to speak and Our Lady appeared to her on Wednesday, October 25th, and told her that by so doing she was carrying out God’s plan:

“My child, I come to tell you in the name of Jesus how much glory you gave His Heart today . . . You must understand that all He allows you to see and suffer in Hell is meant not only to purify you, but also that you should pass on the knowledge of it to the Mothers. Do not think about yourself but only of the glory given to the Heart of Jesus, and the salvation of souls.”

Night after night she spent almost wholly in these torments, and Josefa wrote in great sorrow on November 5th:

“I saw souls fall into Hell in dense groups, and at times it was impossible to calculate their number.”

This left her terror-stricken and exhausted.

“Unless I am given special help from on high, I shall no longer be able either to work or apply myself to anything . . .”

On Sunday after one of these terrible nights of expiation Our Lord came to her. She was in dire desolation of spirit, and spoke to Him of the innumerable souls lost forever. Jesus listened and His face betrayed immense sadness. After a few moments of silence, He said: “You have seen the fallen, Josefa, but you have not yet seen those who are saved and go up into Heaven!”

“Then,” she wrote, “I saw an innumerable crowd of souls, rank upon rank, and they entered into an illimitable space which was filled with resplendent light, and were lost in its immensity.”

The Heart of Jesus was as if on fire and He said: “All those are they who have accepted the Cross of My love, and accomplished My Will with submission.”

After a few moments, He came back to the subjects of expiation and reparation which He wanted Josefa to undertake, and He explained their value to her:

“As to the time during which I allow you to undergo the pains of Hell, do not for a moment consider it as lost and useless. Sin is an offense against God’s infinite Majesty, which therefore calls for infinite reparation. When you go down into the abyss, your sufferings prevent the loss of many souls, the Divine Majesty accepts them in satisfaction for the outrages received from these souls and they repair for the punishment their sins have merited. Never lose sight of the fact that it is only My great love for you and for souls that permits it.”

Josefa would not forget it, and it seemed as if she were coming back to the hardest trials of her Noviceship days in the storms that now assailed her. Foreseeing that now the love of Christ’s Heart was to be poured out over the whole world, the devil’s fury made him fiercely attack the instrument used by Our Lord, but he was not able to shake her lowliness or her trust.

“I hate you,” he said to her, “with all the hatred of Hell, and I will pursue you until I have driven you from that accursed house . . .” “How many souls she snatches from me”—he one day acknowledged—“and if she is able to do this now, what will it be later on? . . . No, I will put an end to this undertaking, I will get hold of her confounded writings and burn them . . . I will use my power . . . but she is as strong as death!”

Josefa remained unshakable. “I got back my peace of soul with the Mothers,” she wrote simply.

How can the value of Josefa’s fidelity to duty which never slackened during days and nights of torture possibly be gauged? We can estimate the importance of the undertaking that was beginning, by the devil’s infuriated attempts to prevent it . . . Yet these were to be totally unavailing in the face of God’s own plans.

On Tuesday, November 21st, 1922, in spite of the devil’s threats, Josefa renewed her vows in public for the first time, vows which she had made four months ago. The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lady is one that is very dear to the Society of the Sacred Heart. It is in memory of the first consecration made by their Holy Foundress, St. Madeleine Sophie, that the young religious who have not yet made their final profession each year renew their vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience before the Sacred Host at the moment of Holy Communion. Josefa took part in the ceremony with the others, and rejoiced in some moments of light and peace in the midst of her tribulations. She made her renovation with great joy: She brought to her Lord a clearer conviction of her weakness, but accompanied by still greater trust in His love. We find written in her notes of the retreat:

“November 21st: My Jesus, it is now four months since I made my vows! How often I have failed Thee during that time! . . . It was because I thought more of myself than of Thy glory and souls. . . . O Jesus, I am sorry and with my whole heart beg Thee to forgive me, for my joy in being wholly consecrated to Thee has not changed. I renew my vows today with more joy than when I made them, because I know Thee better and Thou hast more often forgiven me. . . . Do not mind, dear Lord, when I seem to be ungrateful, for with my will I never cease loving Thee; but the devil deceives me . . . still my only desire is to be faithful to Thee till death.”

After signing this protestation, she added: “O Jesus, my very life . . . would that I were holy and could love Thee more, not for myself, but to give Thee glory and to save many souls.”

Here indeed is a true expression of the pure love burning in her heart, and Satan’s hatred would only kindle it still more. Jesus knew it, and His loving eyes rested tenderly on the weak creature in whom He saw such love.
"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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#28
BOOK TWO - THE MESSAGE OF LOVE

Chapter VII. THE MESSAGE IS INAUGURATED



PART III. THE REDEMPTIVE VALUE OF DAILY LIFE November 22nd–December 12th, 1922


Love transforms and divinizes all.” (Our Lord to Josefa, December 5th, 1922)

ON the morning of Wednesday, November 22nd, just before the Elevation at Mass, like the rising sun after a dark night, Our Lord showed Himself to Josefa, more beautiful than ever. His Heart glowed and seemed as if about to escape from His breast. He carried the Crown of Thorns in His right hand.

“I thought at once that He was going to give it to me,” she wrote naïvely, “but I did not dare ask for it. I renewed my vows and said the Divine Praises.”

For some weeks past Josefa had been enjoined by obedience to add the Divine Praises to the renewal of her vows. The devil was never able to repeat after her these words of love and benediction, whereas her heavenly visitants gladly repeated and commented on them.

“Josefa,” He said, while His heavenly glance rested on her, “Do you recognize Me? do you love Me? and do you know how much My Heart loves you?”

Such questions like arrows wounded and inflamed her heart.

“I know He loves me,” she wrote; “but to what extent I cannot understand. I, too, long to love Him without measure . . . although I cannot correspond to His loving-kindness . . . I told Him how happy I was yesterday at the renewal of vows, and I begged Him to keep me faithful, for He knows all the harm I am capable of.”

“ ‘Fear not, Josefa, for in spite of your littleness and occasional resistance, My work is going well, both in you and souls.’

“ ‘Lord, I do not understand what You mean by this work to which You so often allude.’ ”

Then Jesus, as it were recollecting Himself, spoke gravely and with force:

“You say you do not know what My work is? Josefa, it is one of love.

“No sabes cual es mi obra? … pues es de Amor!”

I want to use you who are of so little account to disclose to the world the mercy and love of My Heart. That is why I am glorified when left free to do with you and in you what I choose. Already your littleness and sufferings have saved many souls. . . . But later on the words and wishes that I transmit through you will fire the zeal of many others and prevent the loss of a multitude of souls, and men will get to know ever more how inexhaustible is the love and mercy of My Heart . . . I do not ask much from them, but I do ask their love.”
“Here,” she said, “I begged Him to give me that love . . . and I told Him once again how earnest is my desire to leave myself totally in His hands. With inexpressible kindness He placed the Crown of Thorns on my head saying: ‘Take My Crown, and may it remind you of your littleness . . . I love you, nor will My tender pity for you ever let Me forsake you. Love Me, console Me and abandon yourself to Me.’ ”

That evening, while she was making the Stations of the Cross, she saw Our Lord at the eleventh Station, and showing her His Cross, He said: “Josefa, My bride . . . I bore the Cross for love of you. Tell Me once more that for love of Me you are willing to bear the Cross that My Will offers you.”

Next day, November 23rd, He gave her to understand what the Cross He offered to her generosity was to be.

He began by saying: “It is in My Heart that souls who know how to deny themselves find true peace.” Then He added: “Ask the Mothers to grant you a few minutes every day in which to write down what I shall tell you.”

The time had come when He was about to reveal His secrets through her to the world. On Saturday, November 25th, in the course of the morning, He came to her in her cell. Josefa knelt in adoration of His Majesty, and leaving her thus prostrate at His feet, after a few moments of silence, He said: “As you renew your vows I want you to make an offering of entire submission to Me. I must be free and find no obstacle in your will to Mine. So now, write”:

Josefa listened and transcribed the grave and burning words that fell from the divine lips.

“I will begin by speaking to My chosen souls, and to all who are consecrated to Me. They must know Me, so as to be able to teach those I shall confide to their care all the kindness and tenderness of My Heart, and to tell all that if I am an infinitely just God, I am nonetheless an infinitely merciful Father. Let My chosen souls, My spouses, My religious, and priests, teach all poor souls how much I love them! All this I will teach you by degrees, and thus I shall be glorified in your abjection, in your littleness, in your nothingness. I do not love you for what you are . . . but for what you are not, that is to say, your wretchedness and nothingness, for thus I have found a place for My greatness and bounty.”

Here Jesus stopped: “Adieu, Josefa. Come again tomorrow. I will go on talking to you and you will pass on My words with burning zeal. Leave Me absolutely free, for in this am I glorified, and souls will be saved. Remember that I wish to be served in joy of heart and do not forget the nothingness of the instrument. Only love like Mine could close its eyes to your weakness . . . Love Me ardently, so as to correspond to My goodness to you.”

When night fell Our Lord brought her back His Cross. “How many sins will be committed tonight,” He said, “and how many will fall into Hell.”

This thought seemed to oppress His Heart. “You at least, Josefa, comfort Me and make reparation for so much ingratitude. How much I suffer when I consider that all I have done will be useless for so many souls. . . . Take My Cross and remain closely united to Me, for you are not alone.”

He vanished, leaving her His Cross. The hours of the night were passed under its weight, besides that of the many torments of soul and body to which she had now been for so long accustomed.

Towards morning Jesus returned. His countenance was still stamped with the impressive sorrow and beauty that Josefa was powerless to describe:

“Poor souls,” He said, “how many are eternally lost . . . but how many, too, will regain life. You cannot conceive how great is the reparatory value of suffering. . . . If you consent, I will often make you share with Me the grievous sorrow of My Heart, and thus you will comfort Me and save many souls. Adieu, think of Me, of souls and of My love.”

“Ever since Our Lord had asked the Mothers to give me time every day to write down His words,” she noted, “I was told to go to my cell between eight and nine o’clock in the morning. The postulants are at their housework then, so there is nothing to prevent me sewing or preparing their work.”

Faithful to these instructions, she repaired every day to her cell. As she waited for the coming of the Master she occupied herself with her needlework. Sometimes He came at once, at other times her waiting was in vain. Our Lord wished her to be pliant and abandoned. If by nine o’clock He had not come, she went back to her ordinary work.

On Sunday, November 26th, although He had arranged it with her the day before, He did not come. She did not allow this to trouble her and, following His counsels, she thought of Him, of souls, and of His love.

That evening as she was at her adoration before the Blessed Sacrament He came, bearing His Cross: “My bride, Josefa, I come to rest in you. . . . You cannot think how the world treats My Heart; sinners wound Me pitilessly, and not they alone but many others pierce Me with painful arrows.”

“I begged Him to come to us, for though we are so wretched (I speak for myself) we so long to love and console Him.”

“You know quite well that I already do so, do you not see how I come here to give rest to My Heart?

“Listen,” He continued patiently, “when I ask you to be My rest and consolation, you must not imagine that you are the only one who gives them to Me. If you could but understand My joy when souls leave Me free and by their deeds say: ‘Lord, Thou art the Master!’ Do you realize how much this comforts Me? Do you think that I am not glorified by it?

“Take My Cross,” He said, giving it to her, “but do not think that you are the only one to bear it for Me. I find repose and glory in you, but in other consecrated souls as well . . . who with so much love and submission receive and adore My Will and have no other interest but My glory.

“Take My Cross, Josefa. Ask mercy for sinners . . . light for the blind . . . love for hearts that are indifferent . . . Comfort Me, love Me, surrender. One act of abandonment glorifies Me more than many sacrifices.”

The next day, Monday, November 27th, at eight o’clock, Josefa was in her cell, waiting, but abandoned to His Will.

“First of all I wrote down all He had said to me yesterday,” she noted, “then I waited ready to do His bidding.” But as Jesus did not come, she was preparing to leave, when suddenly He showed Himself to her.

“Go to your work, Josefa,” He said. “Tomorrow I will tell My souls that My Heart is an abyss of love. Think of Me all the time. Souls glorify Me so much when they remember Me.”

Josefa went away carrying the Cross which was invisible to all eyes but which she felt weighing heavily upon her. She carried it through all her work, in her generosity preferring this burden to any amount of sweetness.

Early the next day, November 28th, she found Jesus already waiting for her in her cell.

Prostrate on her knees and following her usual bent towards self-reproach she asked Him to pardon whatever, even without her knowledge, might have displeased Him. “Have no fear,” He answered her; “I know you . . . but I so love you that no wretchedness in you will turn the glance of My love from you.”

Then with ardor too intense to be restrained, He began to speak and she gathered up His burning words:

In an admirable epitome of His whole redemptive life, Jesus showed infinite love as the central theme:

“I am all Love! My Heart is an abyss of love.

“It was love that made man and all existing things that they might be at his service.

“It was love that moved the Father to give His Son for man’s salvation which through his own fault he had lost.

“It was love that caused a Virgin who was little more than a child to renounce the charms of life in the Temple and consent to become the Mother of God, thereby accepting all the suffering involved in the Divine Maternity.

“It was love that caused Me to be born in the inclemency of winter, poor and destitute of everything.

“It was love that hid Me thirty years in complete obscurity and humble work.

“It was love that made Me choose solitude and silence . . . to live unknown and voluntarily to submit to the commands of My Mother and adopted Father. For love saw how in the course of ages many souls would follow My example and delight in conforming their lives to Mine.

“It was love that made Me embrace all the miseries of human nature, for the love of My Heart saw far ahead. I knew how many imperiled souls would be helped by the acts and sacrifices of others and so would recover life.

“It was love that made Me suffer the most ignominious contempt and horrible tortures . . . and shed all My blood and die on the Cross to save mankind and redeem the whole human race.

“And love saw how, in the future, many souls would unite themselves to My torments and dye their sufferings and actions, even the most ordinary, with My blood in order to win many souls to Me.

“I will teach you all this very clearly, Josefa, that men may know how far-reaching is the love of My Heart for them.

“And now go back to your work, and live in Me as I do in you.”

Josefa then left her cell, and gave the precious pages she had written to the Mothers. She herself never retained them, for she knew herself to be just a go-between, and her supernatural detachment grew as she realized the importance of all that was confided to her. But she kept deep down in her own heart the remembrance of the moments when Love’s depths were revealed to her. She was as it were invested with the sacredness of it all and it took all her natural energy of character to throw herself wholeheartedly into the work she shared with the Novices. So was the mystery of her life carried on.

The next day, Wednesday, November 29th, while she was waiting for Our Lord and working, suddenly her cell was filled with a soft effulgent light. It was not the Master who had come but the Apostle beloved of His Heart.

“I recognized him at once,” she wrote, “he held the Cross of Jesus in his hands. I renewed my vows and he said:

“ ‘Soul, loved of Our Divine Master, I am John the Evangelist, and I come to bestow His Cross on you. It does not wound the body, but makes the heart bleed . . . May the suffering it will cause you relieve the bitterness in which sinners steep the Heart of Our Lord and God. . . . May the blood of your heart be as a delicious vintage that will make known to many the sweetness and attractiveness of virginity . . . Unite your heart to Jesus in all you do. Keep carefully the precious evidences of His love. Fix your eyes on Heaven, for the things of earth are of no account. Suffering is the life of the soul and the soul that has understood its value lives the true life.”

Josefa had already noted on Holy Thursday, 1922, how heavenly was the expression of St. John’s countenance. He was a friend from the other world whom she was to see again many times, and whose every visit left her with a sense of peace and security. The Cross brought this day weighed chiefly on her soul.

“Although in peace,” she wrote, “my heart and soul are oppressed and in extreme suffering.

“The night of November 29th–30th was particularly crucifying. The Cross, the Crown of Thorns, and the pain in my side banished all sleep and obliged me to spend the whole night sitting beside my bed. On Thursday, November 30th, Jesus appeared at eight o’clock, faithful to His tryst:

“ ‘Write for My souls,’ He said. And with no other preamble He continued:

“ ‘The soul who constantly unites her life with Mine glorifies Me and does a great work for souls. Thus, if engaged in work of no value in itself . . . if she bathes it in My blood or unites it to the work I Myself did during My mortal life, it will greatly profit souls . . . more perhaps, than if she had preached to the whole world . . . and that, whether she studies, speaks or writes . . . whether she sews, sweeps or rests . . . provided first that the act is sanctioned by obedience or duty and not done from mere caprice; secondly, that it is done in intimate union with Me, with great purity of intention and covered with My blood.

“ ‘I so much want souls to understand this! It is not the action in itself that is of value; it is the intention with which it is done. When I swept and labored in the workshop of Nazareth, I gave as much glory to My Father as when I preached during My public life.

“ ‘There are many souls who in the eyes of the world fill important posts and they give My Heart great glory; this is true. But I have many hidden souls who in their humble labors are very useful workers in My vineyard, for they are moved by love, and they know how to cover their deeds with supernatural gold by bathing them in My blood. My love goes so far that My souls can draw great treasure out of mere nothing. When as soon as they wake they unite themselves to Me and offer their whole day with a burning desire that My Heart may use it for the profit of souls . . . when with love they perform their duties, hour by hour and moment by moment . . . how great is the treasure they amass in one day!

“ ‘I will reveal My love to them more and more . . . it is inexhaustible, and how easy it is for a loving soul to let itself be guided by love.’ ”

Jesus was silent. Josefa laid down her pen and for a few instants remained in adoration before Him who thus opened His Heart so widely before her. “Adieu,” He said at last, “go back to your work; love and suffer, for love is inseparable from suffering. Abandon yourself to the care of the best of Fathers . . . and to the love of the tenderest of Partners.”

This was ever the lesson dearest to God Our Saviour. His Cross is a choice gift, surpassing the most precious of favors. On this First Friday He left it to Josefa, who carried it both day and night.

On Saturday, December 2nd she noted simply:

“With great difficulty I managed to go to meditation, for my strength is gone.”

At eight o’clock, however, she was at her post, and Jesus soon joined her.

“Write for souls,” He said, as on the preceding day.

Josefa knelt at her small table, and Our Lord spoke, standing beside her.

“My Heart is all love and it embraces all souls, but how can I make My chosen souls understand My special love for them and how I wish to use them to save sinners and so many souls who are exposed to the perils of the world? For this reason I would like them to know how much I desire their perfection, and that it consists in doing their ordinary actions in intimate union with Me. If they once grasped this, they could divinize their life and all their activities by this close union with My Heart . . . and how great is the value of a divinized day!

“When a soul is burnt up with desire to love, nothing is a burden to her, but if she feels cold and spiritless everything becomes hard and difficult . . . Let her then come to My Heart to revive her courage . . . Let her offer Me her dejection, and unite it to My fervor; then she may rest content, for her day will be of incomparable value to souls. All human miseries are known to My Heart, and My compassion for them is great.

“But I desire souls to unite themselves to Me not only in a general way. I long for this union to be constant and intimate as it is between friends who live together; for even if they are not talking all the time, at least they look at each other, and their mutual affectionate little kindnesses are the fruit of their love.

“When a soul is in peace and consolation, doubtless it is easier for her to think of Me, but if she is in the throes of desolation and anguish, she need not fear. I am content with a glance. I understand, and this mere look will draw down on her special proofs of My tenderness.

“I will repeat again to souls how My Heart loves them . . . for I want them to know Me thoroughly, that they may make Me known to those I place in their care.

“I ardently desire My chosen souls to fix their eyes on Me, and never turn them away . . . and among them there should be no mediocrity, which usually is the result of a misunderstanding of My love. No! it is neither difficult nor hard to love My Heart, but on the contrary, it is sweet and easy. They need do nothing extraordinary to attain to a high degree of love: purity of intention, be the action great or small . . . intimate union with My Heart, and love will do the rest.”

Jesus stopped; then bending down towards Josefa who was prostrate at His feet: “Go,” He said, “and have no fear. It is I who cultivate this little flower, that it may not perish! Love Me in peace and joy.”

On the evening of this First Saturday of the month Our Lord came to comfort her distress, which was caused by the snares of the devil, who perpetually tried to take away her peace of mind.

“Remember the words I spoke to My disciples: ‘As you are not of the world, the world hateth you.’ Today I say to you: ‘Because you are not of the devil, Satan persecutes you.’ But in the midst of these torments My Heart is guarding you and is glorified. Love and suffer, Josefa, it is for a soul.”

And once more He charged her with one of His consecrated souls, whose love had grown cold, but to whose generosity He held so much.

“He went away,” she wrote, “leaving me His Cross.”

This Cross with all its attendant sufferings would weigh heavily on her during the nights and days that followed, while Josefa’s mind was fixed on the wound she divined in the Heart of her Lord.

Three days later, Tuesday, December 5th, He was already in her cell when she arrived. She renewed her vows.

“Yes,” He began by saying, “I am that Jesus who loves souls tenderly. . . . Behold this Heart that never ceases calling them, guarding them, and caring for them. . . . Behold this Heart on fire with longing for their love, but especially for the love of My chosen ones.”

Then as if these burning words had relieved His love:

“Write, write more for them.

“My Heart is not only an abyss of love, It is also an abyss of mercy; and knowing as I do that even My closest friends are not exempt from human frailties, I will each of their actions, however insignificant, to be clothed through Me with immense value for the help of those in need and for the salvation of sinners.

“All cannot preach nor evangelize distant uncivilized peoples, but all, yes, all can make My Heart known and loved . . . All can mutually help one another to increase the number of the saved by preventing the loss of many souls . . . and that, through My love and mercy.

“I will tell My chosen souls that My love for them goes further still; not only shall I make use of their daily life and of their least actions, but I will make use of their very wretchedness . . . their frailties . . . even of their falls, for the salvation of souls.

“Love transforms and divinizes everything, and mercy pardons all.”

After a moment of silence Jesus continued: “Adieu, I shall come back again to tell you My secrets. Meanwhile bear My Cross bravely. If you love Me I also love you. Do not forget this.”

As He had said, Jesus allowed her to wait several days, bearing His Cross all the time. Our Lady’s consoling presence was granted to her on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Josefa had suffered intensely all day. Her heart was in anguish, and that evening after Benediction she called on her Heavenly Mother to come to her aid.

“I entrusted my whole soul to her,” she wrote, “and begged her never to let go of my hand. Suddenly she stood there in all loveliness! Her hands were crossed upon her breast and her white veil reflected gleams of gold. She said only these words to me: ‘My child, if you want to give much glory to Jesus and save many souls . . . let Him do as He likes with you and give yourself up to His love.’

“She gave me her blessing, let me kiss her hand, and vanished.”

Josefa with renewed courage faced the offerings and suffering which were required to keep her faithful from one day to another.

But she was obsessed by one anxiety. It seemed to her that her companions had suspicions and misgivings on her account, and her humility and love of self-effacement took fright.

“I wanted to talk over all this with Our Lord during Vespers,” she wrote on Sunday, December 10th, “and hardly had I begun than He came: ‘Josefa, why are you sad? Tell Me all about it.’ ”

She renewed her vows and confided her anxieties to Him.

“I have told you that you will live hidden in My Heart, why do you doubt My love? . . . let My words reach many souls who need them.”

Then, humbling her still deeper in her nothingness: “In any case what does it concern you? When a person talks at the bottom of a large empty space, her voice resounds up to the highest point. So it is with you. You are the echo of My voice, but if I be silent, what are you then?”

Such words rooted her in the conviction of her nothingness and at the same time revivified her trust and peace.

“Is it I, Lord, who prevent your coming . . . for now five days have gone by without my seeing you?”

“ ‘No,’ He answered with compassionate kindness, ‘you do not prevent My coming, but I love to hear you call Me and long for Me. Soon I shall again come and speak to you of My souls. Besides, if you displease Me in anything, I will make you see your misery and nothingness and will manifest My sovereignty over you.

“ ‘Adieu. Stay hidden in My Heart and let yourself be trained in Love’s own way.’ ”

As He had said, Our Lord soon resumed the revelations of His Heart to Josefa, and on Tuesday, December 12th, He appeared at the accustomed hour. First of all He insisted on His promise to her:

“You, Josefa, as I told you, you must not give in to sadness, for My love takes care of you. I will not fail to hide you deep down in My Heart, and you must never doubt My love, nor forget that I have often told you what a little and miserable creature, a mere nothing, you are, and you must abandon yourself trustfully into the hands of your Creator, with entire submission to His Divine Will.

“And now, write a few more words for My souls:

“Love transforms their most ordinary actions and gives them an infinite value, but it does more: My Heart loves My chosen souls so tenderly, that I wish to use their miseries, their weaknesses, and often even their faults.

“Souls that see themselves overwhelmed with miseries, attribute nothing good to themselves, and their very abjectness clothes them with a certain humility that they would not have if they saw themselves to be less imperfect.

“When therefore in the course of apostolic work or in the carrying out of duties, a consciousness of their incapacity is forced upon them . . . or when they experience a kind of repugnance to helping souls towards perfection to which they know themselves to be still strangers, such souls are compelled to humble themselves in the dust, and should this self-knowledge impel them to My feet, asking pardon for their halting efforts, begging of My Heart the strength and courage they need, it is hardly possible for them to conceive how lovingly My Heart goes out to them and how marvelously fruitful I will make their labors.

“Those whose generosity is not equal to these daily endeavors and sacrifices, will see their lives go by full only of promise which never comes to fruition.

“But in this, distinguish: to souls who habitually promise and yet do no violence to themselves nor prove their abnegation and love in any way, I say: ‘Beware lest all this straw and stubble which you have gathered into your barns take fire or be scattered in an instant by the wind!’

“But there are others, and it is of them I now speak, who begin their day with a very good will and desire to prove their love. They pledge themselves to self-denial or generosity in this or that circumstance . . . But when the time comes they are prevented by self-love, temperament, health, or I know not what from carrying out what a few hours before they quite sincerely purposed to do. Nevertheless they speedily acknowledge their weakness and, filled with shame, beg for pardon, humble themselves, and renew their promise . . . Ah! Let them know that these souls please Me as much as if they had nothing with which to reproach themselves.”

Our Lord here establishes a very clear distinction between habitual venial sins, unresisted and consented to, and faults of frailty that are repaired.

He explains that the willed reparation gives Him more comfort than the fault of frailty gave Him displeasure. In fact, the humility, confidence, and generosity implied in an act of reparation presuppose awareness and complete consent of the will—a condition only partially fulfilled in the fault of frailty.

The bell was ringing for a community exercise, and Jesus, ever faithful to the first indication of obedience, disappeared in a flash.
"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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BOOK TWO - THE MESSAGE OF LOVE

Chapter VII. THE MESSAGE IS INAUGURATED



PART IV. ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS GRACES December 13th–31st, 1922


Have you understood My love for souls?” (Our Lord to Josefa, December 16th, 1922)

THE month of December 1922 brought to Les Feuillants a visit which was both a joy and a trial to Josefa.

One of the Mothers Assistant General of the Society of the Sacred Heart came from Rome to visit the houses in France. It was a great happiness to receive her at Poitiers, and her visit proved a source of grace for the house, its works, and its inmates.

Warm-hearted Josefa would have loved to share this joy, unalloyed by any haunting fear, but she felt her Mothers would submit many questions to the Visitor, and that she herself would be interrogated.

Her old fears re-awakened, though she trusted her Master.

“I recognized once again,” we find her writing on Wednesday, December 13th, “how faithfully Jesus keeps His promises. Our Mother Assistant General received me for a few moments . . . with a kindness I hardly dared expect. Our Lord, however, had told me several times: ‘If you are faithful, I shall not forsake you and nothing will do you any harm’; and that I see more clearly every day.”

The next day, Thursday, December 14th, He came again to the silence of her little cell: “Do you see how faithful a Father and Spouse I am to you? Never be afraid, even if you feel that the storm is about to break.” Then with an eagerness that His love could not restrain: “Tell the Mother that My Heart allows and disposes all things in view of My work . . . that owing to the Society many souls will be saved . . . that My words will rekindle the fervor of many of My chosen souls . . . and that many others who do not sufficiently appreciate the value of the smallest actions done with love will find in My words a source of grace and consolation.”

After He had answered all that still worried Josefa: “Adieu,” He said with overwhelming kindness, “abandon yourself to My care, and never doubt My love. It matters little even if you are often shaken by storms, your lowliness is deeply rooted in My Heart. I will come again to speak to you of My souls,” He added before departing, “now comfort Me. You may kiss My feet, if you wish. Later on I will bring you My Cross.”

Very soon after, Jesus brought it.

“I was waiting for Our Lord, and occupying myself meanwhile with some needlework,” she wrote on Friday, December 15th, “when towards half-past eight He came . . . He was bearing His Cross but with no sign of sadness. His Heart and eyes were more beautiful than ever.”

She could find no words to express her admiration. His attitude, His resplendent white raiment, and the Cross looming darkly against all this radiance was all so beautiful that she could not give an adequate idea of it.

“I knelt down and renewed my vows. I adored Him, and begged Him to give me true love, and I said to Him: ‘How glad I am, Lord, that Thou hast brought me Thy Cross.’ ”

“Do you want it?” He said at once—and as she offered herself to do His Will in all things—“Take it and console Me. Be busy about My interests, for I will look after you.” Then in response to the thought He read in her mind: “Yes, it is true that I have no need of anyone . . . but let Me ask you to love Me, and by you, to manifest Myself once more to souls. Let My Heart have free access and find repose in pouring out Its love on this group of chosen souls.

“I want all to know how eagerly I seek them out, how I long for them that I may fill them with happiness.

“Tell them not to be afraid of Me . . . and tell sinners not to flee from Me . . . Let them come and take refuge in My Heart! I will receive them with the most tender and paternal affection.

“And you, Josefa, love Me, and don’t be afraid of your weakness, for I will sustain you. You love Me and I love you, you are Mine and I am yours. What more do you want?”

“He said all this with such passionate fervor,” she wrote, “that He left me as it were lost in Him. How can I explain what went on in my soul? I asked Him to show me how to love Him, for I have no other desire on earth: to live and love my so-good Jesus!”

On the following day, Saturday, December 16th, Our Lord taught her the secret of true love.

“Today, you are going to console Me. Enter into the depths of My Heart and offer yourself to My Father with the merits of your Bridegroom. Beg Him to forgive the many souls that are ungrateful. Tell Him that even in your littleness you are prepared to repair for the sins mankind commits against Him. Tell Him what a miserable little victim you are, but that you are veiled in My blood.

“So you will spend the day imploring forgiveness and repairing for sin. I want you to unite your soul to the zeal that consumes My Heart. May souls really grasp that I am their joy and their reward . . . May they not flee from Me, for I love them so much . . . all of them! but I want My chosen souls especially to know how great a predilection I have for them.”

After speaking to her of the Society of the Sacred Heart, He concluded by saying: “And you yourself, Josefa, have you understood My love for souls?”

“Indeed I have, Lord, for You are always occupied about them.”

“That is why I love the Society and why My Heart reposes in it . . . For it has understood the value of souls and the glory of My Heart. Adieu, Josefa, comfort Me and make reparation.”

When leaving her Our Lord always gave her the same watchword: Love. As the days and the months went by, Josefa realized more and more that her life was to be one of reparation and that her vocation bound her to the redemptive Cross of Christ. This Our Lord stressed every time He came to her. He never led her outside the very sure path of her vocation, but urged her towards the true consequences of the total gift of herself to the Sacred Heart.

On Sunday, December 17th, He joined her in her cell a little before the nine o’clock Mass.

“You consoled Me yesterday,” He said to her, “because you stayed with Me. So many forget Me and so many others busy themselves about a thousand and one trifles, and leave Me alone for whole days . . . many others do not hear My voice . . . yet I am always speaking to them . . . but their hearts are earthbound and cling to creatures. I will tell you all this later on, and will let you know what consolation is given Me by souls, especially by My chosen ones, when they do not leave Me alone. . . . You will continue writing that they may know how dearly I love them. Go now . . . I will return.”

The nine o’clock Mass bell was ringing, she noted. Jesus had gone.

Five days passed, and on each of them Josefa expected the return of the Master who had said: “I will return.” But He did not come.

The sovereign freedom He exercised in her regard was not the least proof of His action. No doubt He loved abandonment in her, but did He not by the uncertainty, the suddenness of His coming, wish to give a proof that the visits really were from Him, so putting an end to all doubt on the subject?

On December 22nd, Josefa wrote:

“Five days have passed since Our Lord came, yet He said He would return . . . What troubles me is not to know if I have displeased Him in something, for I no longer have either His Cross or His Crown.”

Her notes continue:

“Before I went to bed, I knelt down to say goodnight to Him, as I always do, and I added: ‘Dear Lord, for five days I have been calling Thee, and Thou hast not come!’ ”

Hardly had she finished speaking when Our Lord appeared to her in all His radiant beauty: “Is it for five days that you have been calling Me, Josefa? And I, how many are the days, the months, the years, during which I have been calling souls but they give Me no answer. When you call Me, I am not far from you, but on the contrary very near. When I call souls, many do not hear Me . . . many go away, but you at least comfort Me by calling Me and longing for Me. Slake My thirst by your desire for Me.”

How many souls can read in these words escaped from the burning Heart of Jesus the reason why He keeps them waiting for His advent . . . how many, too, will take courage and draw happiness from the thought that they slake His thirst by offering to Him their desires for Him.

This period which had rooted Josefa firmly in her vocation of reparation, and inaugurated the Message she was destined to transmit to mankind, ended at Christmas in a scene of utter loveliness, which Josefa noted down in all its simplicity . . . her soul becoming more and more attuned to the littleness of the Infant God. But there was never any talk between them other than that of the redemption of souls. More than ever was this the link of love that bound them. We quote her words without commentary:

“Monday, December 25th, 1922: During Vespers I was telling the Infant Jesus once more how much I loved Him, for in spite of the great temptation of these last days, He knows very well that He is my sole love, my King, my treasure. I cannot live without Him . . . He is the joy of my life. I was saying this when suddenly I saw Him; He was quite tiny. He was held up by something I could not distinguish, and wrapped in a white veil which left only His little hands and feet uncovered. He held His little hands crossed on His breast, and His joyous eyes were so lovely, so full of joy, they seemed to speak. His hair was quite short; in fact everything about Him was little, and with the tenderest and sweetest voice He said to me: ‘Yes, Josefa, I am your King.’

“I was so overjoyed to see Him thus that I took up His word: ‘Yes, my Jesus, Thou art my King, and if my enemies and evil inclinations try to make me fall they will not succeed, for I will fight hard always to remain Thy very own.’

“ ‘It is just because you fight that I am your King. Be not afraid, the enemy will not take possession of the battlefield, for I will defend you, although I am so small . . . I want you to be small too. And now, Josefa, I am going to ask you for a gift. You will give it to Me, won’t you?’

“I was afraid of what He was going to ask me,” she wrote humbly, “but I answered: ‘Yes, Lord, with all my heart, but Thou must give me the strength, for Thou knowest what I am.’

“ ‘I want,’ said the Holy Child, ‘I want you to make Me a little tunic adorned with many souls . . . those souls My Heart loves.’ ”

Then coming back to His first idea: “ ‘You see how small I am? Well, I want you to be smaller still. Do you know how? . . . By simplicity, humility, and promptness in obedience. Then, Josefa, My Heart wants the warmth of love which only souls can give Me. Give Me that warmth, and give Me souls. I have prepared a great number for you. Do not delay My undertaking . . .

“ ‘If you give Me souls, I will give you My Heart. Which of us two will be giving the greater gift? . . .

“ ‘I will return soon. . . . Meanwhile, begin to fashion My tunic, and give Me souls by your love! See how many turn away. . . . Do not let them escape. . . . Poor souls . . . do not let them flee away, Josefa, for they little know where they are going!’

“He said all this,” she noted, “with so sweet a voice! When He began to speak He opened His little arms. He was so lovely, so ravishing that I was distressed at not being able to kiss His feet, but I dared not ask Him. He seemed all aglow. Indeed He was so beautiful that I cannot describe Him, and the tender sweetness of His utterance was ineffable.”

This entrancing Christmas feast was to have a morrow:

“As I was preparing for Holy Communion,” she continued, “on Tuesday, December 26th, I asked our Blessed Lady to give me her Son and to teach me to love Him and console Him. I spoke to her as one speaks to one’s mother, with great confidence, and after Communion I begged her to adore Him for me and to teach me how to thank Him.

“Suddenly, she stood there with the Holy Child on her right arm. She was clothed in the same pale rose colored vesture and veil as she wore two years ago and the Holy Child was wrapped in a white veil, as yesterday, only there was nothing to be seen of Him, not even His little head. Then she was so motherly and loving as she said to me:

“ ‘Look, my child, I bring you your Jesus,’ and at the same time she uncovered Him.

“ ‘Place Him deep down in your heart. See how cold He is! You can warm Him by your love. He is so good, and He loves you so much! Let Him be the sole King of your heart.’

“Whilst she spoke, the Holy Child lay still in her arms, gazing at her and sometimes at me. I told Our Lady how I longed to love Him, but that often I am not faithful enough to all He asks of me, especially when it is a message from Him that I must deliver. . . .”

This was the perpetual cause of self-reproach to her.

“Then in His sweet baby voice He said: ‘Mother, I have asked Josefa to make Me a little tunic adorned with many souls, for so many escape Me . . . and you know how many I entrust to those who love Me. If they respond to my expectations, this is the greatest consolation that they can give My Heart.’

“Our Lady at once replied: ‘Yes, give Him souls, and do not let any go away from Him . . . Look! He is going to weep!’

“I told Him that this is my one desire, but that often unknowingly I sadden Him and resist Him, because I let the devil deceive me.

“ ‘Do not fear, my child, Jesus asks only for your good will. Try your best and prove your affection in that way. Do you know how to do it? Jesus wants you to be very little . . . quite tiny, so tiny that you may be able to creep in here.’

“And with her hand she pointed to the empty space between her heart and the Holy Child who was reposing on it.

“She smiled as she said this,” wrote Josefa, “and the Holy Child looked at her and smiled too.

“ ‘You little know how happy you would be in there,’ the Blessed Virgin continued, and Jesus, waving His little arms, called out: ‘Just try, Josefa . . . and you will see . . . ’

“As they were both so sweetly kind, I again begged for forgiveness for having resisted . . . and for all that courses through my imagination in moments of temptation . . . Our Lady answered:

“ ‘Yes, you are right, there are moments when you are ungrateful. . . . Do you know why? It is because you are thinking of yourself more than of Him. Do not consider whether a thing costs you or not, prove your love by doing all He asks of you. If He tells you to speak, speak. If to be silent, then keep silence. If He tells you to love, then love. What does anything matter, if He takes care of you?’

“I promised her that I would obey Him, and as she began covering up the Holy Child before going, I asked leave to kiss His little feet.

“ ‘Yes, kiss them,’ she said.

“While I kissed them, Jesus stroked my head very gently with His tiny hand . . . I kissed Our Lady’s hand too. Then she covered up her Babe saying:

“ ‘Adieu, my child, do not forget the tunic. Comfort Him and give Him souls.’ Then they both went away.”

The graces of this exquisite vision ended on Wednesday, December 27th, when, on St. John’s feast-day, the friend of virgin souls appeared to her. Josefa described him as best she could:

“He came during my adoration. He was of majestic beauty, his right arm extended and his left hand resting on his heart. He is very tall, rather taller and stronger than Our Lord, and with rougher and more marked features. His eyes are black, and his face pale, with dark chestnut colored hair. He was enveloped in a very pure radiance and when he spoke it was so slowly and gravely that his words sank deep into my soul. His voice was both gentle and strong with something heavenly about it.

“I renewed my vows and then he said at once:

“ ‘Soul, beloved of the Sacred Heart, since this adorable Master takes delight in pure souls, I come to rekindle in yours the fire that must consume you with love for the Divine Heart.

“ ‘He loved us first; may our love respond to His, with gratitude, constancy, tenderness, and generosity, without any shred of self-interest. May His loving-kindness be ever present to our minds. . . . May it be the prime motive of a love that must seek the good and glory of the Beloved.

“ ‘Soul chosen by Jesus with so much love, take up your abode in His Heart. Let it catch the fire of His consuming love, and may you be purified and intoxicated with heavenly sweetness.

‘“May your passage on this earth be as that of the dove who barely touches ground. Like the bee on the flower, may your soul ask nothing of this life but the food that is absolutely necessary to its existence.

“ ‘The world is but a dark passage to one who loves the Divine Master.’

“He crossed his hands on his breast and was silent. He looked so beautiful that he might have been an angel. I was afraid to speak . . . At last I ventured to ask him if Our Lord received consolation from religious, He who so loves virginity . . . St. John looked up to Heaven and his face brightened as he replied:

“ ‘Virgin souls are the dwellings of love, where the Immaculate Lamb takes His rest. But among these souls some are the admiration of Heaven itself. On them, the heavenly Spouse fixes His most pure gaze and imbues them with sweet fragrance from His Heart.’

“Then extending his right arm he blessed me and said:

“ ‘Let Him possess and consume you. May all your care and zeal be concentrated on increasing His glory and love, and may His peace keep you.”

On the evening of this same day the signal grace Jesus had granted Josefa on the same date two years before was renewed.

“Towards eight o’clock He came, O! so beautiful . . . the wound in His Heart burning and wide open: ‘Come,’ He said, ‘enter into My Heart and rest there. Later on you will give Me yours to rest in.’

Then He plunged her in that abyss.

“I thought it was Heaven,” she wrote, incapable of saying more.

“It is impossible to explain what it means to enter into that Heart!”

After a little more than an hour of this ineffable repose, Jesus reminded her of the end and object of all these favors: “Do not forget that the souls I choose must be victims.”

Josefa could not forget it, for the Master’s plans were too deeply imprinted on her soul; she knew full well that henceforward their union would be consummated only on the Cross.

But at that moment when He reminded her of it, He willed to show her by a symbolic parable that it would always be love that would sign her with the Cross.

“As He was yet speaking, I saw,” she said, “a little pure white dove; her grey wings were extended as if to take flight towards the Heart of Jesus. But she was repulsed in this by a tongue of fire that issued from the wound and fell on her little head which was resplendently white. She bore a small black cross imprinted just below her throat.”

Josefa made no comment, but till her death she was from time to time to see this little white dove. However, by then the Master had explained the significance of the vision, which was an image of her soul.

For the moment the light went out, it was not yet time for her to take flight into the Heart of Jesus. A whole year of graces, struggles, trials of all sorts, still separated her from her final entry into this adorable Heart. But the fire of love would hold her captive in torments, that He might continue to reveal Himself to the world through her.
"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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