Welcome to the fifth part of Jesus and Josefa, a series of blogs and podcasts in which we cover some very moving words from our Lord to Sister Josefa Menendez, a very courageous, yet unassuming Spanish nun who practiced her vocation in France in the early 1920’s, until she passed away and joined our Lord in heaven at the age of 33 in December of 1923.
As is often the case, God reveals Himself or otherwise bestows special blessings on those we might not think of as being very significant. Sister Josefa was one such person. She was by all accounts humble and yet quite good natured in performing her tasks at the convent in which she resided.
Our Lord singled out Sister Josefa for some very important work, to articulate His thoughts about His religious and about humanity as a whole, and to help Him save souls in reparation for their sins.
Jesus opened His heart to her on many occasions. Often, He would show up in her cell and ask her to start writing down His words. What He told her goes under the heading of a private revelation, which we are not required to believe as Catholics, but that nonetheless has a great deal of merit for meditations.
Jesus’ words to Sister Josefa appear in two books: The Way of Divine Love (a detailed biographical account of her life) and Christ’s Appeal for Love (a shorter version).
Both of these have the Church’s Imprimatur that there is nothing in them that is contrary to faith and morals. (Indeed, the late Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli recommended her work the year before He became Pope Pius XII in 1939!).
These excerpts I’ve selected from Christ’s Appeal for Love are also available as Podcasts on the Our Catholic Prayers Podcast Page. The Way of Divine Love is available in print and as an e-book. Christ’s Appeal for Love is available only in electronic form at this time.
In the first part of these “Blogcasts” we started with an introduction of some of our Lord’s stirring thoughts about His love for fallen humanity and for His religious, along with His salient advice for all of us to draw closer to Him in how we treat each other, very much in line with His words in scripture where he says “If you love me, keep my commandments." (This is taken from John’s Gospel Chapter 14, verse 15.)
In the second part, we covered Christ’s talks about His Introduction of the Eucharist at the Last Supper and its great significance for our lives. In part three Jesus described in heartrending detail, the beginning of His Passion following the Last Supper, from the Agony in the Garden at Gesthemane through His being denied three times by St. Peter!
The fourth part covered the events from Jesus in prison the night before His crucifixion through Barabbas’ being set free instead of Him, including our Lord's scourging, His crowning with thorns and His encounters with Pontius Pilate and Herod Antipas. In this fifth episode, the next to last in this series, Jesus describes the Way of the Cross and His crucifixion, not holding back anything in describing his anguish, both physical and emotional.
He stresses here the importance of carrying our own crosses, as He did, for others' salvation and our own; and for God’s glory as well. In addition, Jesus challenges us all to draw closer to Him through a most prized grace, that of equanimity. This state of mind, where we keep our composure in serving God, even in the midst of great trials and tribulations, is treasured our Lord, and many saints valued it as well.
Equanimity requires much practice and prayer, to be sure, but it can be a great aid to our advancing in Holiness! Christ also reminds us that our sufferings and failures are never in vain if we unite them to Him on His Cross; and that we should never despair of His Mercy, if we feel our sins are too great to be forgiven.
As a side note here, Jesus chides Simon of Cyrene, the man who was compelled by the Romans to help Jesus carry His Cross on the Via Dolorosa, for his tepidity. This contrasts with the more sympathetic portrayals of Simon given by the mystic Anne Catherine Emmerich in the book containing her visions, entitled The Dolorous Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that found in Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ. Keep in mind, however, as mentioned earlier, that these are all Church-approved private revelations and are not meant to be taken as additional Gospels.
Please note that I’ve included dates and some topic headings given in Christ’s Appeal for Love. These excerpts from the book were taken from our Lord's talks with Sister Josefa during Lent in 1923.
And now, drink in these words from Jesus, slowly and thoughtfully at times. I hope they inspire you in meditative thoughts for your Rosary, devotions, and other prayerful moments.
Remember, Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, isn’t talking just to Sister Josefa Menendez here. He’s speaking to us as well, me and you! He really and truly wants to be an important part, you might even say an essential part in each of our lives! God Bless.
March 24th, 1923
JESUS IS CONDEMNED TO DEATH
Meditate for a moment on the martyrdom of My supremely tender and loving Heart at finding Barabbas preferred to Me, and how, and seeing Myself so scorned, I felt cut to the quick by the cries of the crowd urging My death.
I called to mind the sweet caresses of My Mother when she pressed Me to her heart…the toils of My adopted father, and the care with which he surrounded My life.
I reviewed in spirit the benefits so liberally bestowed by Me on this ungrateful people…how I had given sight to the blind…health to the sick…healing to the lame…how I had fed the multitude in the desert… and even raised the dead to life…and see now to what a contemptible state I am reduced… more hated too, than perhaps any man has ever been…condemned to death as an infamous thief… the multitude has demanded My death. Pilate has now given sentence. O all ye who love Me, attend and see the sufferings of My Heart.
THE DESPAIR OF JUDAS
After the betrayal in the Garden of Olives, Judas wandered away, a fugitive, a prey to the reproaches of his conscience which taxed him with the most execrable of sacrileges. And when he heard that I was condemned to death, he gave himself up to despair and hanged himself.
Who can measure the deep and intense grief of My Heart when I saw this soul so long taught by love…the recipient of My doctrine, one who had so often heard from My lips words of forgiveness for the most heinous crimes, finally throw himself into hell fire?
Ah! Judas, why not throw yourself at My feet that I may forgive you too? If you are afraid to come near Me because of the raging mob that surrounds Me, at least look at Me. My eyes will meet yours, for even now they are lovingly intent upon you.
O all you who are steeped in sin, and who for 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…Ah! 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 in error…if you are 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, maybe, that soul awakens with the 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.
O soul whom I love, pay no attention 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 in your life of fervor, and you have back your lost merits, and My grace will never fail you.
March 26th, 1923, Monday in Holy Week
THE WAY OF THE CROSS
Let us go on, Josefa. Follow Me bowed under the weight of the Cross to Calvary. While the loss of the soul of Judas was filling Mine with sadness, the executioners, devoid of every feeling of humanity, now placed a hard and heavy Cross upon My lacerated shoulders. I was to consummate on the Cross the mystery of man’s redemption.
Angels of Heaven! look on the God before whom you are ever prostrate in adoration. See the Creator of all the world’s wonders going to Calvary carrying that holy and blessed Cross on which He is to die.
O souls who desire to imitate Me faithfully, gaze on Me likewise: wearily I dragged Myself forward, for My body was broken by many torments and bathed in sweat and blood. I suffered, but there was none to compassionate Me. The crowd followed Me, the soldiers pitiless as ravening wolves surrounded Me. No one had pity on Me.
So great was My exhaustion and so heavy the Cross that I fell on the way. See how roughly the inhuman soldiery raised Me to My feet once more. One seized an arm, another My garments which clung to My open wounds…a third grasped hold of Me by the neck…and another by the hair.
Some showered blows on Me with their clenched fists and others brutally kicked My prostrate body. The Cross which fell upon Me crushed Me with its weight. My face bruised and torn, mingled the blood which covered It with the dust of the highway, blinding My eyes and adhering to My sacred face. I became the vilest and most contemptible of all creatures!
THE MEETING WITH OUR LADY
Come a little further with Me. There you will see My blessed Mother, whose heart is pierced with grief. She comes to meet Me, and that for two reasons: that seeing Me, her God, she may have fortitude to endure, and then to give Me, her Son, courage to carry on and complete the work of Redemption helped by the sight of her heroism.
Consider the martyrdom of these two hearts. What does this Mother love more than her Son? And far from being able to help Him, she knows that the sight of her anguish increases His.
And I, what do I love more than My Mother? Not only can I offer her no comfort, but I know that the terrible plight in which she sees Me pierces her heart with a sorrow like My own; for if I suffer death in the body, she suffers death in her heart.
See those eyes fixed on Mine, as Mine dulled and blinded with blood are fixed on hers! No word is spoken, but what a world of intercourse our two hearts exchange in one heartrending glance.
Yes, My Mother was present in spirit at all the torments of My Passion by divine revelation. Some of the disciples, though afar off…, also tried to find out what was going on in order to report it to her. As soon as she knew that My death sentence had been pronounced she came forth to meet Me and did not leave Me anymore until I was placed in the tomb.
March 27th, 1923, Tuesday in Holy Week
SIMON OF CYRENE
Meanwhile the procession advanced on the way to Calvary.
Fearing that I might die before crucifixion, those wicked men inspired by hatred not compassion, looked around for someone to help Me carry the Cross, and for that purpose, offering a small reward, seized on a man of that neighborhood, called Simon.
Contemplate Me on the way to Calvary loaded with My heavy Cross, watch Simon carrying it behind Me, and consider two things:
Though he was a man of goodwill, yet he was mercenary, and if he carried My Cross, it was for pay. So when he began to tire, he allowed the weight to bear more and more on Me, and that is how I fell twice. Secondly, this man helped Me to bear part of My Cross, but not the whole of it.
There are many souls following in My footsteps who accept to help Me carry My Cross but they are troubled about their own rest and comfort. They try to avoid suffering, count the cost of abnegation, and turn away from humiliation, work or fatigue whenever they can.
They accept only what they cannot avoid, or what is of strict obligation…and so carry only a small part of My Cross and in such a way as barely to acquire the merit indispensable for salvation. In the next world they will see how far behind they lagged.
On the other hand, there are many souls who, urged on by the hope of salvation but still more by the motive of love, are resolute in their determination to follow me in the Way of the Cross.
If My Cross comes to them in the shape of illness, if it is hidden under some employment that goes against the grain or is little adapted to their talents…if it has all the appearance of being the result of forgetfulness or opposition from those around them, they recognize and accept it with all the submission of which their will is capable.
Sometimes it happens that, urged by greater love and zeal for souls, they have done what seemed to them best in such or such a circumstance and things turn out differently from their expectations and there follows a whole train of humiliations and trials.
These souls, moved solely by love, joyfully accept these unexpected consequences of their action, for in them they see My Cross. They worship it, offer it up, and use it to procure My greater glory.
These are the souls that truly bear the Cross after Me. Their interests and their gain are none other than love. These are they who repose and glorify My Heart.
Be persuaded that if your self-denial and suffering bear fruit but late or bear no fruit at all, they have not been in vain or useless. Someday you will bear abundant sheaves and reap a great reward.
When a soul loves truly, she neither measures what she does nor weighs what she suffers. Never looking for reward, and seeking only what she believes to be for God’s greater glory, she never says “enough” when labor or fatigue are in question. And because of the purity of her aim, whatever the result, she neither excuses herself nor protests her good intentions.
Her motive being love, her efforts and sufferings always give glory to God. She is not troubled nor does she lose her peace of mind if she meets with contradiction or persecution or humiliation, as her sole motive is love and she leaves results in Love’s hands.
These souls are not mercenary. They only want Me to be consoled. They desire only My rest and glory. That too, is why they have shouldered the whole of My Cross and carry its full weight.
March 28th 1923, Wednesday in Holy Week
We have nearly reached Calvary. The crowd is growing excited while I drag Myself along with the utmost difficulty, and soon, worn out with fatigue, I fall for the third time. By my first fall I obtained for sinners rooted in evil, the grace of conversion.
By My second fall, encouragement for those weak souls blinded by sadness and anxiety, so that rising up they might make a fresh start in the way of virtue. My third fall will help souls to repent in the supreme hour of death.
We have now reached the summit. Look at the officiousness with which these hardened sinners surround Me. Some seize hold of the Cross and lay it on the ground. Others tear My garments from Me, reopening all My wounds. My blood flows afresh.
Think, dear souls, of My shame in seeing Myself thus exposed to the gaze of the mob…what physical agony, what confusion for My soul.
The tunic woven by My Mother, with which she had so lovingly closed Me in My infancy, and which had grown with My stature…these cruel men despoil Me of it and draw lots whose it shall be.
Think of the affliction of My Mother as she witnessed this terrible scene. How she longs to take possession of that tunic now impregnated with My Blood.
The hour has come! The executioners stretch Me upon the Cross. They violently seize and extend My arms that My hands may reach the holes they have prepared in the wood. Every shock causes My thorn-crowned head to come into violent contact with the Cross. The thorns are driven deeper and deeper into it.
Hear the first sound of the hammer that fixes My right hand… deep into the very earth it resounds. Listen again: they fasten My left hand. The very heavens tremble, and the Angels fall prostrate at the sight. As for Me, I keep the deepest silence, not a murmur escapes My lips.
Having nailed My hands, they pull pitilessly at My feet. My wounds burst open afresh…the nerves are severed…the bones dislocated… the torture is unspeakable. They pierce My feet and My blood is poured upon the ground!
CONTEMPLATION AND APPEAL
Stay a while and contemplate these pierced hands and feet…this body covered with wounds...this head pierced through and through by cruel thorns fouled with dirt, bathed in sweat and blood.
Wonder and marvel at My silence, patience, and resignation under such brutal treatment. Ask yourself who suffers? Who is the victim of such barbarity? It is Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, Maker of heaven and earth and of all things, who causes the plants to grow and every living thing to prosper…Who created man, and whose power sustains all things.
Behold Him unable to move, an object of scorn, Him, throwing away fortune, comfort, honor, family despoiled of all. But soon what a multitude will follow and homeland…everything that the world can give, to render Him honor and glory and the love that is His due.
Be attentive, O ye Angels of heaven, and all ye who love Me! The soldiers are about to turn the Cross in order to rivet the nails so as to prevent the weight of My Body from drawing them out. My sacred Body gives the kiss of peace to guilty earth.
Then Calvary witnesses a wonder indeed. At My Mother’s prayer, for though she stands impotent to help Me she is imploring mercy of My heavenly Father…at her prayer legions of angels crowd around to support My Body and prevent it from being grazed by the ground and crushed by the weight of the Cross.
Then while the soldiers inhumanely make the air ring with their blows…the earth trembles…there is silence in heaven; angelic spirits are prostrate in adoration. God is nailed to the Cross!
Josefa, see thy Jesus extended on the Cross, He cannot stir hand or foot, He is exposed naked, without honor or liberty. Nothing remains to Him.
No one pities Him, none compassionate His sufferings, but instead fresh mockeries, new insults, more and more pain, are added to what He already endures. If you love Me truly what will you do to resemble Me? Will you refuse anything My love asks? Will you spare any efforts to console Me?
And with those moving words from our Lord, we conclude this 5th installment of Jesus and Josefa. On the next and final installment, which will also be available as a Podcast on the Our Catholic Prayers Podcast Page, Jesus comments on what is commonly referred to as the Seven Last Words, his memorable, haunting, and inspiring thoughts He uttered as he was dying on the Cross. We will be uploading this soon.
In the meantime, we hope you will explore our other podcasts, including the first four installments of Jesus and Josefa, as well as other pages on this website!