‘Gold is purified in the fire.’ So tribulation purifies and fortifies the soul, and the time of temptation is of great profit both to you and to souls.’
(Our Lord to Sister Josefa Menendez)
Today, December 29, we mark the 95th anniversary of the death of Sister Josefa Menendez, the humble nun who wrote “The Way of Divine Love” in obedience to her superiors. In paperback from TAN, or on Kindle. We’ve written about the beautiful Way of Divine Love before (here) and about Sister Josefa’s deep devotion to the Divine Infant (here). But now, we will focus on the most often overlooked or misunderstood concept in Josefa’s writings: true humility.
The writings of Sister Josefa echo in many ways the writings of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and one can discern a hint of them in Sister Lucia’s writings as well. I strongly suspect that the true writings of Sister Lucia would bear even more resemblance to both of them were we to have access to them. This is because Our Lord Jesus Christ has been telling us in no uncertain terms, what is necessary to counter-act the arrogant self-centeredness which prevails in the world today.
Tragically, this selfishness has so captivated the souls of mankind that today among the vast majority of people, there is a rigid resistance to Our Lord’s plea for humility of heart. Mankind has developed a resistance to the grace of God much as some disease bacteria develop a resistance to antibiotics, and now it is common in our culture to despise the “poor in spirit” as lacking in self esteem, and to care not a whit for the “Kingdom of Heaven”.
It is true that the Message of Divine Love is Christ’s plea for our love but it is also a valuable reminder that we must become truly as a little child, poor in spirit, meek and pure of heart in order to be able to receive His love, Otherwise we risk succumbing to the darkness that cannot grasp the light. The worldly are unable to grasp Our Lord’s words to St. Margaret Mary:
“If I had been able to find a creature more miserable than you,” He said to Saint Margaret Mary, “I should have chosen her….”
And to Sister Josefa:
“If I could have found a more wretched creature, I should have chosen her for my special love, and through her revealed the longings of My Heart. But I have not found one, and so I have chosen you.” (June 7th, 1923).
Why does Our Lord speak so? Think on it. The devil draws us after him with sweetness, flattery, for he knows that hides his poison best. And we are so easily lured away from Christ! Do we really think that Christ will try to out-flatter the devil in order to lure us to His side with sweet words? God forbid!
Our Lord Jesus Christ loves us despite the ingrained sins and weakness which so distort the beauty of our souls. He knows that flattering and praising us will not free us from these deep sins; in fact, will only confirm us in them. Through devotion to His Sacred Heart, He offers us the flame of His Divine love which consumes in us all these weaknesses and impurities to strengthen us against the false promises of the ancient deceiver, if we allow it.
It is with those few who have kept His grace in their hearts, who seek His “hard sayings” that we share the truth of the Way of Divine Love.
The message of Divine Love was given to Sister Josefa in the period immediately after the Message of Fatima. This message does not contradict but rather serves to illustrate the essential unity of the two devotions. In Our Lady’s words to Sister Josefa, we seem to hear the echo of her interactions with the three seers of Fatima and also with the revelations to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (here).
Sister Josefa at times felt overwhelmed by the effort to discharge her duties of state and the demands of Our Lord for reparation for souls, and she spoke of this with our Blessed Mother. To this, Our Lady responded:
“What does anything matter, if He takes care of you?’ … My child, why be afraid? The work of Jesus must be founded on much pain and love … banish fear; Jesus is almighty and it is He who acts. He is strong and He will sustain you. He is merciful and He loves you.”
Then she warned her of further tribulations to be encountered:
“He reads the depths of all hearts and it is He who permits circumstances to be as they are. If His plans often seem to you to be hindered, it is because He wants to keep you very humble and very lowly.”
Sister Josefa told her that she feared herself to be an obstacle to His plans.
“It is true that you are a very wretched little being,” Our Lady said with compassion, “but that is just why Jesus has pity on you and why He hides you in the depths of His Heart so that nothing can possibly harm you. Humble yourself in your littleness and misery, my child. Trust Him, for He loves you and will never forsake you. Let your only ambition be to win many souls for Him, to give Him much glory and much love.”
When Sister Josefa told Our Lady how sad it made her that she sometimes failed in her tasks, Our Lady offered her Our Lord’s Crown of Thorns. “Fix your mind on the Passion and sufferings of Jesus.” Then placing the Crown of Thorns on her head: “Take it,” she added, as she blessed her; “it will keep you in His presence.”
‘Do not be afraid, my child,’ Our Lady said in tender pity. ‘He will never ask anything of you without giving you grace. Then try to overcome your repugnance by remembering that all His commissions are given you because of His goodness and love for souls.
“You must not be afraid, for every time Jesus allows you to endure those torments He means you to draw from them a three-fold fruit:
First: Great love and deep gratitude to the Divine Majesty who in spite of your faults prevents you from falling eternally into Hell.
Secondly: Boundless generosity and ardent zeal for the salvation of souls, with the desire of saving many for Him by your sacrifices and even your tiniest acts, for you know how much these please Him.
Thirdly: The sight of such innumerable crowds of souls lost forever … of souls, of which not one can so much as make an act of love, ought to make you who can love, send up unceasingly to Him echoes of love’s clamor to drown the blasphemous vociferations of that impious abode.“ [Note: this was told to Sister regarding the visions of Hell she was given.]
‘Therefore, great generosity for the salvation of souls, daughter, and much love…. Let my Son use you as He wills…. Let Him finish His work.’ “
Once, Sister Josefa confided in Our Lady her sorrow at failing Our Lord by what she believed was ingratitude. Our Lady responded,
“But, my child, surely you know that His Heart is a blazing furnace, and its fire exists only to consume our miseries. As soon as you have owned them to Jesus, He remembers them no more.
“He has already granted you so many graces, He is prepared to grant you others greater still. His Heart is an inexhaustible Fountain”
“Jesus has forgiven and forgotten all your failings and all your strivings against His Will, but He never forgets your good resolutions and He takes pleasure in them. His Heart is an abyss of mercy, and it will never fail you. It is, too, an abyss of riches which will never diminish, however largely distributed.
“Love Him as much as you can. He cares for nothing else. Acknowledge your littleness, and be submissive and ready to surrender to His Will in all things.“
So many of us who attempt to live our Consecrations are plagued with scruples and get disheartened, but we should keep our focus on the words of Our Lady: “He has forgiven and forgotten all your failings!” It is we who persist in focusing on our failings instead of on Our Lord; He asks for our love, not for our endless ruminations on our faults.
In closing, we offer you a most useful quote from Our Blessed Mother to help us understand this path we follow:
“Let Him rest in you and do you rest in Him. When you receive His graces, then you repose in Him; when He tries you in one way or another, then He reposes in you.”
When we think on these words, we are able to understand that the beautiful periods of peace given to us in prayer, especially after receiving Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, are when He has drawn us into His Heart. These moments if responded to properly, nourish us and prepare us for the trials to come. But in this sacred dance wherein we move, little by little towards Heaven with our Beloved, we also have the periods when Jesus reposes in our hearts. These are times of darkness, desolation and very great suffering. But they are precisely the most fruitful times, if we maintain our trust in Him.
It was during one of these dark times that Sister Josefa asked Our Lord why He allowed her to struggle in such darknesss of soul, He replied,
“It seems to you that you see nothing and that you are about to fall into the precipice. But need you see, if you are guided? … What you need is to forget self, to abandon your own will and offer no resistance to My plans. Thanks to the acts done in the midst of your sufferings, several of the souls that you will see later have come nearer to My Heart.’
Josefa then complained to Him that when she is struggling against temptations and loneliness, she fails to find Him.
“ ‘When you cannot find Me, look for Me in your Mother. Follow her directions implicitly, for she will guide you to Me. I gave her to you for that very purpose; and know, Josefa, that if you do what she tells you, you are giving Me as much satisfaction as if you were obeying Me personally.
“Love, suffer, and obey. So doing you will enable Me to carry out My plans in you.’ ”
Let us resolve never to waste a single unjust, unreasonable humiliation, a single opportunity to lift our hearts joyfully to God for He alone transforms our sufferings into pure gold, eternal gold that never fails. As Our Lord Himself said to Sister Josefa,
‘Ponder this word: “Gold is purified in the fire.” So tribulation purifies and fortifies the soul, and the time of temptation is of great profit both to you and to souls.’ ”
We must bear in mind that this time is a time of spiritual chastening; a precious time for us to gain souls for Christ by our faithfulness to His requests through Our Lady of Fatima. As we follow the Immaculata, and stand with her at the Cross, adoring Him, making of everything a sacrifice of purest love, we serve Him best and bring much grace back into this dark world – this we must do! Hold fast to this!
Thank you for reading. I pray for you always!
O my Jesus, forgive us our sins and save us from the fire of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy.
Remember – Our Lady needs us to obey: First Saturdays of Reparation, daily rosary, at least 5 mysteries, wear her brown scapular and live your Total Consecration to her Immaculate Heart, offering daily duties in reparation and for the conversion of poor sinners.
† Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.
† Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy kingdom come! Viva Cristo Rey!
† Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.
† St. Joseph, protect us, protect our families, protect our priests.
† St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Please pray for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary!
~ by evensong for love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, King.
Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin! Give me strength against thine enemies!