JESUS AND JOSEFA: AN INTRODUCTION

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS BLOG POST
IS ALSO AVAILABLE AS A PODCAST HERE

Would you like to read some inspiring words for Lenten and Rosary meditations from Christ Himself?  First, I’d like to introduce you to a very courageous, yet unassuming Spanish nun who practiced her vocation in France in the early 1920’s.

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 gave her many graces and many wonderfully transcendent moments with Him when He would show up in her cell at various times. However, as with other religious and laity alike, he also allowed her to experience great suffering, in atonement for sinners. 

You and I can do this as well. While Christ died to save humanity as a whole, each of us are called to imitate Him not only in the love we show others but also in our willingness to offer up to God our own misfortunes and tragedies so that wayward sinners among us today might have Eternal Life. That’s right, Your sufferings, your pains, can help souls reach Heaven and save them from Hell! 

Speaking of Hell, Sister Josefa spent time there for Jesus in part to let people know of its real existence and to help save souls on earth from falling into that infernal fiery dungeon.

Jesus let her know, for one example, of an errant soul she’d help to save after she’d experienced some great physical pain one evening. She accepted these trials willingly and lovingly nonetheless. Our Lord, mindful of her love and her sacrifices, took her to our true home, Heaven, at the age of 33 in December of 1923. 

As I mentioned earlier, Jesus opened His heart to Sister Josefa on many occasions. Often he would show up in her cell and ask her to start writing down His words. Early on, in June of 1921 he told her “Remember My words and believe them. My Heart has but one desire, which is to enclose you in It, to possess you in My love, then to make of your frailty and littleness a channel to convey mercy to many souls who will be saved by your means. I will reveal to you the burning secrets of My Heart, and they will be for the good of many souls. I want you to write and to keep all I say to you. It will be read when you are in Heaven.” It was her very “littleness” as He called it, that made her such a good transcriber, as well as loving devotee, in His eyes! 

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 below from Christ’s Appeal for Love are also available in audio form as a Podcast on the Our Catholic Prayers Podcast Page here. Future selections will be available in transcript form on the Our Catholic Prayers Blog page, as well as in audio form on the 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.

We’ll start with an introduction of some of our Lord’s stirring words and thoughts in this first “Blogcast”. Then, I’ll get to some truly moving passages from Christ’s Appeal for Love about Jesus’ Passion as described by our Lord Himself in future blogs/podcasts! I’ve found all of these to be quite inspiring and in some cases, quite haunting.

I hope they can help you draw closer to our Lord and help you, no matter what your situation might be, to realize just how much Jesus loves you. Remember that Christ would have undergone His humiliating Passion for you even if you’d been the only person in this world! 

One other important note: Many of Jesus’ words to Sister Menendez were aimed at religious, whom our Lord described as His “chosen Souls”, as He called them. This is not meant to disparage us in the laity, however.

I’ve chosen excerpts aimed at the laity, yet much of the advice He gives to His religious applies to us as well. In these talks He wishes us to seek His graces and stay close to Him in love and humility, and yes, at times suffering so that He can work through us to spread the gospel. 

Although I’ve chosen excerpts stressing our Lord’s mercy, he says at one point that, as He put it “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.”

Clearly He wishes us to take up our own crosses in following Him to Heaven to help satisfy Divine justice. If we stay close to Him in prayer and in receiving Him in the Sacraments of Holy Communion and Confession, He will give us the graces we need to persevere, in both good times and bad.

One other note for this transcript below: Christ refers to Himself in some of these talks as our Father. While He never means to usurp the place of His heavenly Father (who’s ours as well!) I chalk this up as one of those great mysteries of the Trinity, one God in Three persons that can only grasped, in part by us, in this case, through the eyes of faith! 

While Jesus was indeed obedient unto death to God the Father in his earthly ministry, as St. Paul once put it, remember also that He said once “the Father and I are one” in John’s Gospel. 

And now, drink in these words from Jesus slowly and thoughtfully at times. I hope they inspire you in meditative thoughts for your Rosary, Lenten 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.

Mankind must know me, I want men to know my love. Do they know what I have done for them? With this am I come, that they may know that they will never find true happiness except in Me. 

My appeal is addressed to all: to those consecrated in religion and those living in the world, to the good and to sinners, to the learned and to the illiterate, to those in authority and to those who obey. To each of them I come to say: if you seek happiness you will find it in Me. If riches, I am infinite Wealth. If you desire peace, in Me alone is peace to be found. I am mercy and love!

I desire that my love should be the sun to enlighten and heat to reanimate souls. That is why my words must reach them. I want all the world to recognize in Me a God of mercy and love. I wish that everywhere my desire to forgive and save souls should be read, and that not even the most wretched be kept back by fear! Nor the most guilty fly from me….Let them all come. I await them with open arms like the most affectionate of fathers order to impart life and true happiness to them……

God created man out of pure love. He placed him on the earth in circumstances that ensured his happiness until the day of eternal bliss should dawn for him. But to have a right to such felicity he is bound to keep the sweet and wise laws laid down by His Maker.

Man, unfaithful to this law, fell grievously sick; sin was committed by our first parents, and all mankind, their descendants, contracted this guilt and lost their right to the perfect beatitude promised them by God; and pain, suffering and death became henceforth their lot.

Now God, in perfect bliss, has no need of man or of his services. He is sufficient unto himself. Infinite is His glory and nothing can diminish it.

Infinite in power, He is also infinite in goodness; hence He will not allow man, created out of love, to perish; instead, He met the grave evil of sin with a remedy infinite in price: one of the divine Persons of the Blessed Trinity, assuming human nature, will repair in a Godlike manner the evil of the Fall.

The Father gives His Son, the Son sacrifices His glory. He comes to earth not as an all-powerful Lord and Master, but in poverty as a servant and as a child. The life He led on earth is known to you all.

You know how from the first moment of the Incarnation I submitted to all human afflictions. In My childhood I endured cold, hunger, poverty and persecution. In My life of labor, how often humiliation and contempt were meted out to the carpenter’s son. How often after a hard day’s work we, My foster–father and I, found that we had earned hardly sufficient to support us… And this I continued for 30 long years.

Then, foregoing the sweet company of My Mother, I devoted Myself to the task of making My heavenly Father known. I went about teaching men that God is Love.

I went about doing good to bodies as well as to souls: to the sick I gave back their health; the dead I raised to life; and to souls? Ah! to souls I restored liberty… that liberty which they had lost through sin, and I opened to them the gates of their everlasting home, Heaven.

Then came the hour when to win salvation for them the Son of God willed to surrender life itself. And how did He die? Was He surrounded by friends? Acclaimed as a benefactor? Beloved ones, you know that the Son of God did not will to die thus. He who had preached nothing but love was the victim of hatred. He who had brought peace to the world was treated most cruelly. He who came to bring men freedom was imprisoned, bound, ill used, calumniated, and finally died on a cross between two thieves, condemned, abandoned, abject and despoiled of everything. 

It was thus that He surrendered Himself for man’s salvation. It was thus He accomplished the work for which He had voluntarily left His Father’s glory. Man was sick and wounded, and the Son of God came down to him. He not only restored fallen man to life, but earned for him both strength and power to acquire in this life the treasures of eternal beatitude.

Dearly loved son, I am Jesus, which name signifies Savior. Why else are My hands transfixed with nails which fasten them to a cross? On it, for love of you, I died. My feet are wounded, My Heart wide open, riven by the lance after death.

Thus do I stand before you that you may know who I am and what My law is. But do not fear, My law is one of love. And in knowing Me you will find peace and joy. It is sad to live as an orphan; come, My sons, come to your Father. I am your God and your Father, your Creator and your Savior. You are My creatures, My sons bought at the price of My life and Heart’s Blood, which I shed to free you from slavery and the tyranny of sin.

You have souls great and immortal, destined for eternal happiness, wills capable of all good, hearts made both to give and receive affection. The thirst for contentment and love can never be appeased by earthly and fleeting gains, which will always leave you hungry and unsatisfied. Perpetual conflict, sadness, anxiety, and affliction will still be your portion.

If you are poor and have to earn a living by work, the miseries of life will embitter you; you will be hostile to your employers and may even wish them ill, that like yourself they may experience the hard grind of daily toil. Fatigue, disgust, even despair will weigh heavily on your spirits, for the way is rough and in the end comes death! 

O! How great are these calamities when viewed from a human standpoint. But I come to show you life under a different aspect:

All you who are deprived of this world’s goods and obliged to labor for your daily bread under a master, reflect that you are not slaves, but created for the freedom of eternity. All you whose craving for affection is unsatisfied, remember that you are made to love that which is eternal, not that which passes with time.

You who love your homes and labor to support your families and provide them with comforts and happiness, do not forget that though death will one day sever every tie, this is only for a time.

You who serve a master, and owe him respect, love, care for his interests, hard work and fidelity, forget not that he is your master only for the short span of a lifetime. How soon this will pass away and give place to an eternity, where you will no longer be workers but reign as kings for ever and ever. 

Your souls, created by a loving Father who bears you a limitless and eternal affection, will find one day in the bliss of Heaven prepared for you a final answer to all your aspirations.

There every labor will be rewarded.

There, you will find your family for whom you worked so hard on earth.

There you will live eternally, for earth is but a passing shadow; Heaven will never pass away.

There you will be united to your God and Father. O! If you but knew how great is the beatitude that awaits you!

You say you do not believe in a future life? Tell Me, are you perfectly contented here and do you never feel a yearning for what is not possible to obtain here below? If after seeking for enjoyment, you succeed in obtaining it, does it satisfy your cravings?

If after pursuing riches, you will last possess them, have you ever enough? If you feel the need of affection, and one day find it, are you not soon tired of it? None of these things is what you long for and here below you will never obtain all that your heart desires. Your craving is peace, not the peace of this world, but that of the children of God; and how do you expect to find in the midst of rebellion?

That is why I have come to show you where true peace and happiness are to be found, and where you can slake the thirst that for so long has consumed you. Do not rebel when I tell you that all these things are to be found in accomplishing My law. Do not fear this word Law for My law is no tyranny but a law of love, because I am your God and your Father.

Believe in My love and My mercy.

You have sinned against Me; I forgive you.

You have persecuted me; I love you.

You have wounded Me by both word and deed; still I wish to do you good and to let you share all My treasures.

Do not imagine that I am ignorant of your state of soul. I know that you have despised My grace, perhaps even profaned My Sacraments. Yet you have from Me a full pardon.

If then you would be happy in this world and at the same time secure your eternal salvation, do as I tell you:

If you are poor, do the work that necessity forces on you with submission and remember that I too lived for 30 years in subjection to the self-same law, for I was needy and poor. Do not consider your masters as tyrants. Banish all hatred from your hearts. Never wish them ill, but further their interests and be faithful to them.

If, however, you possess this world’s goods and employ workers and servants, be fair to them in all your dealings; pay them a just wage, and show them both gentleness and kindness. If you have an immortal soul, so too have they, and if you’re bound in wealth, it is not for your sole comfort and enjoyment, but that you may administer it wisely and practice charity to your neighbor.

Both employer and employed must accept the law of labor with submission, acknowledging a Supreme Being over all created things. As God He demands of you the accomplishment of His divine law. As your Father, He asks you to accept His commandments in a spirit of filial piety.

Thus, when you’ve spent a week in the pursuit of work, business or sport, He claims but one half-hour that you may fulfill your Sunday duty. Is this excessive? Go then to your Father’s House, where day and night He awaits your coming, and as Sundays and Holidays recur, give Him the homage of this half-hour by assisting in the mystery of love and mercy that is Holy Mass. Tell Him everything; about your families, your children, your business, your desires. Lay at His feet your sorrows, difficulties and sufferings. Believe in the interest and love with which He listens to your prayer.

You may perhaps say to Me: “I have not entered a church for so many years that I have forgotten how to hear Mass.” Do not be afraid on that account. Come, spend this half-hour with Me; your conscience will tell you what to do, and be docile to its voice. Open your soul wide to grace, and it will inspire you. Gradually it will teach you how to act in a given circumstance, how to treat your family, what to do in regard to your business… How to bring up your children, love those who depend on you, and honor those in authority over you. It may make you feel that such and such concern must be given up, such a friendship relinquished, or such a meeting avoided.

Again, it may tell you that you are hating a certain person quite unreasonably; or it may put into your mind to sever your connection with some person you feel drawn to and whose advice is doing you harm.

Only give grace a chance, and gradually its power will grow stronger in you, for just as evil increases insensibly, once it is given into, so will each new grace prepare your soul for a still greater one. If today you listen to My voice and let grace act, tomorrow its influence will be stronger and so steadily increase as time goes on; light will grow in your soul, peace envelop you, and the reward will be eternal bliss!

Man was not created to live forever here below. He was made for eternity. If then he is immortal, he should live, not for the passing things of time, but for that which will never die. Youth, wealth, wisdom, human glory, all that is nothing, it will all end with this life; God only will endure forever.

The world is full of hate, races are in perpetual conflict with one another, so are nations, and even individuals, and all this is due to the decay of faith. Only let faith reign once more over the world and peace and charity will return to it.

Faith in no way impedes civilization and progress. The more it is rooted in individuals and peoples, the more wisdom and learning increase, for God is infinite in wisdom and knowledge. But whenever faith is completely lacking, peace, civilization, and true progress likewise vanish… For God is not in war… and in their place come enmities, clash of opinions, class wars, and within man himself, rebellion of passions against duty. All that is noble in humanity is exchanged for revolt, insubordination and warfare. 

Let yourselves be convinced by faith and you will be great. Let yourselves be ruled by faith, and you will be free; live by faith, and you will escape eternal death.

My Heart is burning with desire to attract souls to Itself in order to forgive them. I want to forgive. I want to reign over souls and pardon all nations. I want to rule souls, nations, the whole world. I will shower My Mercies on the world to wipe out its ingratitude. My reign will be one of peace and love and I shall inaugurate it by compassion on all: such is the end I have in view and this is the great work of My love.

I love souls so dearly that I have sacrificed My life for them. It is this love that keeps Me a prisoner in the tabernacle. For nearly twenty centuries I have dwelt there, night and day veiled under the species of Bread and concealed in the small white Host, bearing through love, neglect, solitude, contempt, blasphemies, outrages, sacrileges.

For love of souls, I instituted the Sacrament of Penance, that I might forgive them, not once or twice, but as often as they needed to recover grace. There I wait for them, longing to wash away their sins, not in water, but in My Blood.

I am God, but a God of love! I am a Father, but a Father full of compassion and never harsh. My Heart is infinitely wise, and knowing human frailty and infirmity, stoops to poor sinners with infinite mercy.

I love those who after a first fall come to Me for pardon. I love them still more when they beg pardon for their second sin, and should this happen again, I do not say a million times but a million million times, I still love them and pardon them, and I will wash in My Blood their last as fully as their first sin.

Never shall I weary of repentant sinners, nor cease from hoping for their return, and the greater their distress, the greater My welcome. Does not a father love a sick child with special affection? Are not his care and solicitude greater? So is the tenderness and compassion of My Heart more abundant for sinners than for the just. 

This is what I wish all to know. I will teach sinners that the mercy of My heart is inexaustable. Let the callous and indifferent know that My Heart is a fire which will enkindle them because I love them. To devout and saintly souls I would be “The Way,” that, making great strides in perfection, they may safely reach the harbor of eternal beatitude.

Look at my Heart, study It, and from It you will learn love. True love is humble, generous, disinterested. So if you want Me to teach you to love, begin by forgetting yourself. Do not stop at sacrifices. Do not be checked by what they cost you. Ignore your personal attractions, and do all things because you love. Many souls think that love consists of saying: “My God, I love Thee!”

No, love is sweet, and acts because it loves. I want you to love Me in that way, in work, in rest, in prayer and consolation as in distress and humiliation, constantly giving Me proofs of your love by acts; that is true love! If souls really understood this they would advance in perfection rapidly, and how greatly they would console My Heart!

Love makes all things easy. The soul that loves wants to suffer, for suffering increases love. Love and suffering unites a soul closely to God, and make her one with Him.

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. 

Souls are of such great worth! Do not fear suffering, for by enduring it you can increase My glory and repair the sins of the world. Only those who love the Cross and embrace it willingly for love of Me, will possess eternal life. Whoever generously accepts the Cross walks in true light; follows a straight and sure path, with no danger from steep inclines down which to slide.

My Cross is the door to true life, and the soul that knows how to accept and love it, just as I have chosen it for her, shall enter by it into the glory of life eternal. Do you now understand how precious the Cross is? Do not shun it. Love it for it comes from Me, and I never shall leave you without strength to bear it. I bore it for love of you, will you not bear it for love of Me?

Do you know how to comfort Me? Love Me and suffer for souls and never refuse Me anything! Yes, do not refuse Me anything, and do not forget that I need souls to carry on My Passion, that divine wrath may be restrained. But I will sustain you.

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 to who aspire to intimacy with Me to refuse Me nothing. If you are faithful to these tiny details of love, I will not be outdone in generosity. Your soul will be filled to overflowing with peace, nor shall I leave you alone, and in your very littleness you will be great, I shall live in you.

My Heart cannot contain the ardor with which It longs to impart Itself, and deliver Itself over, and remain always with sinners. How I long for them to open their hearts to Me, to enclose me in them, and that the fire that consumes Mine should fortify and enkindle theirs!

Then I shall be for them just what they wish: If they look upon Me as their Father, I shall be a Father to them. If they desire Me as their Beloved, I shall be their Beloved. If they need strength, I will be their strength, and if they long to console Me, I will let them console Me. All I want is to give Myself to them and to fill them with graces prepared for them.

And with these introductory thoughts from our Lord, we conclude this Blog page. I realize this is a lot to take in, but I hope these words from Jesus can help you draw closer to Him! Remember that this talk is also available in audio form as a podcast in this link to our Podcast Page.

In the next installment of  excerpts from Christ’s Appeal for Love, Our Lord will give us His thoughts about the Last Supper and His Institution of the Holy Eucharist. Please feel free to share this transcript and or the Podcast and tell others about it as well! 

Wishing you a prayerful and fulfilling Lenten season, God Bless!

Christopher Castagnoli
for www.ourcatholicprayers.com


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