Sister Josefa Menendez and Jesus' Message of mercy for sinners
Sister Josefa Menendez was born on February 4, 1890 in Madrid, Spain. Being of Spanish descent, she initially sought to enter the religious life in Spain, but God’s Providence lead her elsewhere and eventually, after many trials, she entered a French Convent and became a Coadjutrix Sister of the Society of the Sacred Heart in 1920 at age 29. As far as external appearances go, nothing signalized that Josefa was in any way fitted for so high a mission as to bring forth a Message of Jesus to the world. She was a religious Sister for only 4 years before her death and prior to this she repeatedly delayed entering into the religious life. Then if we take in consideration her humble rank in the Community, her status as a mere novice, her reserved natures and great love of retirement, and the very real obstacle of her ignorance of the language of the country (French), -all these hindrances combined would at first sight appear insurmountable to the proclamation of a Message to the world.
In reality however they were signs of God's choice. Though she was but a simple novice, often reserved and quite meek, she would show later an unconquerable strength of will. In the blinding light of divine revelations, she only crept deeper into her littleness, and the closer God drew to her the more she humbled herself. In spite of the evidence of God's action, she was ever fearful of being deceived herself, and of deceiving her Superiors. In reality her Superiors had rarely met with a more obedient and docile subject, or one more deferential, more eager to submit to their authority, more ready to sacrifice herself.
In her devotions, as in everything else, there was no exaggeration; she was sincere, straightforward and simple. She was mentally healthy and had a well-developed spirituality and devotion. The supernatural graces and gifts, whose weight was often crushing, purified her to the depths, though her spiritual equilibrium was at times shaken by the extraordinary visions and communications, which at times required an almost superhuman endurance. All this was in reality the best guarantee to Superiors that her communications were divine in origin.
The Mystic who wore an apron
Her daily life within the Convent was very ordinary as she carried out her humble tasks and chores with grace and humility. Her fellow Sisters did not know of the extraordinary graces and lights that God was bestowing upon His humble servant, nor did they know of the inner struggle Josefa was undergoing as the devil tempted her to doubt God's voice and her Religious calling, but through it all Josefa maintained a strong prayer life, which aided her in resisting the deceitful voice of the evil one.
It was because of her simplicity, humility and ordinary life that our Lord said to Sister Josefa: "You yourself shall be My sign." And elsewhere our Lord said to her: I will reveal to you the burning secrets of My Heart and many souls will profit by them. I want you to write down and keep all I tell you. It will be read when you are in Heaven. Do not think that I make use of you because of your merits, but I want souls to realize how My Power makes use of poor and miserable instruments."
Sister Josefa Menéndez, died a holy death at age 33 on December 29, 1923, at the Convent of Les Feuillants, Poitiers, France. She lived as a sister in the Society of the Sacred Heart only four years, and in so hidden a way that the world ought never to have heard of her, and even in her own community she should have soon been forgotten. It was not until after her death that her fellow religious Sisters heard of all the extraordinary graces that God had bestowed upon her.
On November 13, 1923 shortly before her death, our Lord had said to Sister Josefa: "My words will be light and life for an incalculable number of souls, and I will grant them special graces of conversion and enlightenment." These words have been verified, for as soon as the first volume of Sister Josefa’s writings appeared, it was eagerly read and promulgated, and was quickly reprinted several times, while letters from all parts of the world gave testimony to the profound impression it created and to the signal graces that followed on the delivery of the Message.
Within a few months the book had been translated from the original Spanish into French, then into Portuguese, Italian, English, Chinese, and Hungarian, thus helping to fulfill our Lord's wish that His call to the way of love and devotion to His Sacred Heart should be known everywhere.
Message of the mercy of Jesus for all, especially those living a sinful life
-Some excerpts from the book "The Way of Divine Love" by Josefa Menendez:
"The world does not know the mercy of My Heart. I intend to enlighten them through you.… I want you to be the apostle of My love and mercy. "
“I would like these [those living with sin] to understand that it is not the fact of being in sin that ought to keep them from Me. They must never think that there is no remedy for them, nor that they have forfeited for ever the love that once was theirs.... No, poor souls, the God who has shed all His Blood for you has no such feelings for you!”
“Come all of you to Me and fear not, for I Love you all... I will wash you in My Blood and you shall be made whiter than snow. All of your offences will be submerged in the waters in which I myself shall wash you, nor shall anything whatsoever be able to tear from My Heart its Love for you."
"Oh, all you who are steeped in sin, and who for a time more or less long have lived as wanderers and fugitives because of your crimes ... if the offences of which you have been guilty have hardened and blinded your hearts . . . if to grant satisfaction to one or other of your passions you have sunk into evil ways ... Ah! when the motives or accomplices of your sin have forsaken you, and you realize the state of your soul, oh then, do not yield to despair! For as long as a breath of life remains a man may have recourse to mercy and ask for pardon.
"If you are still young, if already the scandals of your life have lowered you in the eyes of the world, do not be afraid. . . . Even if there is reason to treat you as a criminal, to insult and cast you off . . . your God has no wish to see you fall into the flames of hell. ... On the contrary He ardently desires you to come to Him so that He may forgive you. If you dare not speak to Him, at least look at Him and let the sighs of your heart reach Him, and at once you will find His kind and fatherly hand stretched out to lead you to the springs of pardon and life.
"Should it happen that you have spent the greater part of your life in impiety and indifference, and that the sudden approach of the hour of death fills you with blinding despair . . . Oh! do not let yourself be deceived, for there is still time for pardon. If only one second of life remains to you, in that one second you can buy back eternal life!
"If your whole life has been spent in ignorance and error . . . if you have been a cause of great evil to other men, to society at large, or to religion, and if through some set of circumstances you have come to realize that you have been deceived ... do not allow yourself to be crushed by the weight of your sins and of the evil of which you have been the instrument; but with a soul penetrated with deep contrition throw yourself into an abyss of confidence, and hasten to Him who awaits your return only to pardon you.
"The case is the same for a soul that has been faithful to the observance of My law from childhood, but who has gradually cooled off into the tepid and unspiritual ways of an easy life. She has so to say forgotten her soul and its higher aspirations. God was asking of her greater efforts, but blinded by habitual failings, she has fallen into tepidity worse than actual sin, for her deaf and drowsy conscience neither feels remorse nor hears the voice of God. "
"Then, perhaps, that soul awakens with a shock of realization: life appears to have been a failure, empty and useless for her salvation .... She has lost innumerable graces, and the evil one, loath to lose her, makes the most of her distress, plunges her into discouragement, sadness and dejection ... and finally casts her into fear and despair."
"Oh soul whom I love, pay no heed to this ruthless enemy ... but as soon as possible have recourse to Me, and filled with deepest contrition implore My mercy and have no fear. I will forgive you. Take up again your life of fervour, and you will have back your lost merits, and My grace will never fail you. "
"Finally, shall I speak to My chosen souls? Supposing that one has spent long years in the constant practice of the Rule and of her religious duties......a soul that I have favoured with My grace and instructed by My counsels . . , a soul long faithful to My voice and to the inspirations of grace . . . and now this soul has cooled in her fervour on account of some petty passion . . . occasions of faults not avoided ... some yielding to the claims of nature and a general relaxation of effort . . . and in consequence has fallen to a lower level . . . to a commonplace kind of life ... then lastly, to give it its true name, tepidity."
"If, for one cause or another, you awake from this torpid state, the devil will instantly attack you in every way, jealous of a soul he. hopes to claim. He will try to persuade you that it is too late, and that my effort is useless, he will accentuate your repugnance to make an avowal of your state of soul ... he will, so to speak, throttle you to prevent you from speaking and accepting the light he will do his best to stifle trust and confidence in your soul."
"But listen rather to My voice, and let Me tell you how to act:
As soon as your soul is touched by grace, and before the struggle has even begun, hasten to My Heart; beg of Me to let a drop of My Blood fall on your soul. . . . Ah! hasten to My Heart . . . and be without fear for the past; all has been swallowed up in the abyss of My mercy, and My love is preparing new graces for you. The memory of your lapses will be an incentive to humility and a source of merit, and you cannot give Me a greater proof of affection than to count on My full pardon and to believe that your sins will never be as great as My mercy, which is infinite.
"Remain hidden, Josefa, in the abyss of My love, praying that souls may be filled with the same sentiments."
A Beggar for love
On Saturday,the 20th of November, He came to her, as a beggar, destitute and asking for love. He appeared with all His wounds...
"Many little wounds were lacerating His Heart," she wrote.
'Tell Me, would you not attempt the impossible to comfort Me, Josefa? . . . Share with Me for a moment the bitterness of My Heart.'
'Listen,' He said, 'I want you to give Me souls. Only love
in all you do is required. Suffer because you love, work because you love, and above all abandon yourself to love. When I let you feel anguish of spirit and great loneliness, suffer in love. I want to make use of you as a tired man uses a stick to lean upon. . . . I want to possess you, to consume you entirely, but all in great sweetness, so that enduring a martyrdom of love, you thirst to suffer more.'
'I come to rest in you, for I am so little loved,' He said. 'I am in search of love and meet only with thankless neglect. Rare are the souls that truly love Me.'
Then to console Him, I offered Him the love of Our Lady, of the Saints, of all faithful souls, and even mine.
"'Yes, Josefa, love Me and never tire of telling Me of your love.' "
"I tried," she wrote next day, "to say over and over again 'My Jesus I love Thee.'
" 'And so do I love you,' she heard Him answer during her prayer.
"He came with no radiance round Him, looking like a beggar; I was silent. But as He continued to gaze sadly at me I ventured to speak, and I told Him how much I longed to comfort Him.
" 'Yes, do comfort Me, today; I will stay beside you all the time, so that you may not forget.'
"At the end of my prayer, as He did not go away, I said to Him: 'Lord, it is time for me to go to my sweeping, but Thou knowest that I love Thee, and that all I do is done solely to please Thee.'
"Twice in the course of my work He asked me again whether I loved Him. 'Say it often, to make up for the forgetfulness of so many.' "
That day, Monday, and of November, she spent entirely in that divine company.
"He stayed all the time," wrote Josefa; "we were not separated a single instant. From time to time He stopped me in my work, and once while I was sweeping the old cloister of Les Feuillants, with its primitive tiled pavement, He asked: 'Why are you doing that?'
"He seemed to take delight in the answer He forecast: 'Lord, I do it because I love Thee. See all the tiles of this corridor?-as many as there are is as many times I say: 'I love Thee, Lord!.' "
Later on she had to go and fetch some coal from the garden: , "What are you going to do?' our Lord asked her.
"I am going to try and prove my love for Thee by all these little things." she replied.
"Josefa, all I ask of souls is their love, but they give me only ingratitude. I would like to fill their souls with grace, but they pierce my Heart through and through. I call them, and they turn away from Me. If you accept, I will give you charge of souls, and by your sacrifices and love you will win them for Me."
He said to me: 'Souls are crucifying Me anew; comfort Me, Josefa. My Heart is steeped in woe . . . sinners despise Me and trample Me under their feet....there is nothing of less value in their eyes than their Creator.'
He left me His Cross and disappeared. "
"That night, at about ten o'clock, He returned, a heavy Cross on His shoulders; He was crowned with thorns and His face was streaming with blood. 'See the state I am reduced to. . . .How many sins are committed,' He said, 'how many souls are lost . . . that is why I come to obtain relief from those who live only to comfort Me.'
"He remained a moment in silence and with joined hands. He looked so sad and at the same time so beautifull His eyes spoke more than His lips.
"After a while, He said to me: 'Souls run to perdition, and My Blood is lost for them. But souls that love Me are sacrificing and consuming themselves as victims of reparation, and they draw down God's mercy, and that is what saves the world.'
"He vanished. I think it must have been about one o'clock, and I kept His Cross till a little after four."
-Sister Josefa Menendez, pray for us!
"Gold is purified in fire. So, suffering purifies and fortifies the soul....Love and suffering unite a soul with God, and make her one with Him." -Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez