Thursday, September 30, 2021
Friday, September 10, 2021
Before Sister Faustina, there was Sister Josefa Menendez. The Lord said to Josefa: “I want you to be the Apostle of My goodness and mercy.” And also: “My one desire is to reveal to souls the love, the mercy, and the pardon of My Heart, and I have chosen you to do it for Me, wretched as you undoubtedly are. But do not be anxious, I love you, and your misery is the very reason for My love.” Josefa’s communications with Our Lord and His Mother lasted until her death in 1923; St. Faustina was still a layperson at that time.
Sister Josefa Menendez was such a hidden and humble woman that during her four years as a nun, she never got past the stage of being a simple Novice (she was finally Professed on her death-bed). Although she was Spanish, she was sent to a convent in France belonging to the order of the Society of the Sacred Heart. During this time she diligently wrote down, at the command of the Lord, the heavenly messages she received. An abbreviated version of Josefa’s writings was published in 1938 by the Apostleship of Prayer, with the blessing of Cardinal Pacelli (the future Pope Pius XII), who at that time was the Cardinal Protector of her religious order.
The reception the work received was so laudatory that a larger and more complete collection of the messages was published five years later. By 1949 the first English language edition was available, entitled The Way of Divine Love – the Message of the Sacred Heart to the World. The excerpts from Sister Josefa’s writings that follow are taken from the TAN Books edition of 1973. (By contrast, the original Polish edition of St. Faustina’s popular Diary was not published until 1979.)
On the night of February 24, 1921, sister Josefa wrote: “In the evening, during Holy Hour, I was thinking of sinners and of how many there are – but also of how much greater His mercy is; suddenly He stood before me, and with a voice of great majesty, as might be a king’s, He said to me: ‘The world does not know how merciful I am; I am going to use you to make it known.’
Fear took hold of Josefa, and she cried out: “But dear Lord, do not forget how weak I am, and that the smallest obstacle makes me fall.” As if He had not heard, Jesus continued: “I want you to be the Apostle of My goodness and mercy. I will teach you what this means. Forget yourself.”
A few months later He 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.” Josefa faithfully followed the Lord’s wishes, and wrote down all that she experienced during visits from Jesus and Mary, other heavenly visitors, and souls in Purgatory. No one in her convent was aware of these graces, except her Superiors and Confessor.
On December 5, 1922 Josefa wrote these words spoken by the Lord: “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 that each of their actions, however insignificant, 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, and even of their falls, for the salvation of souls. Love transforms and divinizes everything, and mercy pardons all.”
Josefa’s mission was actually two-fold. Not only was she the apostle of Divine Mercy and love, but she was also a victim soul, suffering so that others would correspond to the graces of salvation. Her sufferings encompassed the Crown of Thorns, the carrying of the Cross, and the pain of the nails; however, none these favors had visible consequences and they were unknown to her peers. In addition, she was one of the very few mystics in the history of the church to have been dragged down to hell itself by the demon. In a series of terrible trials permitted by God, she was forced into the bottomless pit over 100 times!
On November 22, 1922, Jesus told her: “Fear not Josefa, for in spite of your littleness and occasional resistance, My work is going well, both in you and in souls.” Josefa replied, “Lord, I do not understand what You mean by this work to which You so often allude.”
Then Jesus, as if recollecting Himself, spoke gravely and with force: “You say you do not know what my work is? Josefa, it is one of love. 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.”
On a day in the month of June, 1923: Josefa went up to the altar-rails, and when the Sacred Host was held before her, she renewed her beloved vows, then received communion and returned to her place. Then Jesus once more manifested Himself to her and with overwhelming love said: “Josefa, you have just told me that you love Me alone, that you have voluntarily despoiled yourself of everything for My sake, that you will never have any other liberty or will than Mine. My will is yours, your will is Mine. I shall be master of your thoughts, or your words, and of your actions. If you have nothing, I will provide everything for you. I will live in you, speak in you, love you, and forgive you.”
Taking up each of these words, Our Lord made His thought clear: “I will live in you and you in Me. I will speak in you, and My words will reach souls and will not pass away. I will love you, and by that love souls will discover my love for them. I will forgive you, and souls will recognize my mercy by that with which I have wrapped you around.”
“Many believe in Me, but few believe in My love, and among those who do, too few rely on my Mercy. Many know Me as their God, but how few trust Me as their Father. I will manifest Myself, especially to those who are the objects of my predilection. I will show them through you that I ask nothing of them that they do not possess. But I do ask that all they have they should give Me, for all is Mine.
“If they possess nothing but miseries and weaknesses, these I desire; even if they have only faults and sins, I desire them also. I beg them to give them to Me. Give them to Me, yes, give all to Me and keep nothing, but trust My Heart. I forgive you, I love you, I will sanctify you Myself.”
The Way of Divine Love – the Message of the Sacred Heart to the World, Sister Josefa Menendez, TAN Books and Publishers, 1973.
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