Josefa Menendez: Confidence and Hope

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At that time Jesus answered and said: I confess to thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to the little ones. Yea, Father; for so hath it seemed good in thy sight. (John 11:25-26)

Josefa Menendez (1890-1923), a Coadjutrix Sister of the Society of the Sacred Heart, is surely numbered among those little ones to whom it pleased the Father to reveal things hidden from the wise and prudent.

In many ways this "mystic in an apron" resembles Saint Faustina Kowalska. Josefa was a simple soul, docile to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and capable of listening to the inner voice of her Bridegroom. Our Lord spoke to Sister Josefa of his merciful love for souls and, very often, of priests and of the desires of His Sacred Heart for their holiness.

When Josefa's writings were edited in 1938, none other than Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII, wrote to the Superior General of the Society of the Sacred Heart: "May [the publication of these pages] efficaciously contribute to develop in many souls a confidence ever more complete and loving in the infinite mercy of this Divine Heart towards poor sinners such as we all are."

For this Thursday of Adoration and Reparation for Priests, allow me to share a page or two from the writings of Josefa Menendez, together with some comments of my own:

To Them I Confide My Secrets
[Priests] live nearest me; they share in my choicest graces, and to them I confide my secrets, My desires . . . and my sufferings also. I have committed to them the care of My little children, their brothers, and through their ministry they must, directly or indirectly, guide them and transmit my teaching to them.

One of the dangers of the ecclesiastical state is the gradual concession to routine that makes a priest act like a functionary, even in carrying out the most sacred mysteries. Once a priest stops resting his head on the Heart of Jesus, he risks losing all contact with the stream of living water that he is called to transmit to souls.

When One Avoids Converse With Jesus
If these chosen souls know Me truly; they will make me known to others; if they love Me, they will make others love Me. But how can they teach their brethren if they hardly know Me themselves? I ask you: Can there be much love in the heart for One who is barely known? Or what intimate converse can be exchanged with One who is avoided . . . or in whom one has little confidence? . . .

Two things assure the fruitfulness of one's priesthood: frequent conversation with Jesus, particularly by means of daily Eucharistic adoration, and confidence in the abiding gift of His Divine Friendship.

Nothing New
This is precisely what I wish to recall to the minds of My chosen ones. Nothing new, doubtless, but they have need to reanimate their faith, their love, and their trust.

One of the indications that a charismatic locution may be authentic and trustworthy is that it announces nothing new. It is the transmission of the Eternal Word in other words. "Jesus Christ, yesterday, and today; and the same for ever. Be not led away with various and strange doctrines." (Hebrews 13:8-9)

Let Love Triumph Over Fear
I look for greater love and confidence in the way they treat Me. Let them seek Me within their own hearts, for they know that a soul in the state of grace is the tabernacle of the Holy Spirit. And there, let them consider Me as I truly am, their God, but a God of love. Let love triumph over fear, and above all let them never forget that I love them.

Nothing so paralyzes the élan of soul Godward as does fear. It is touching that Josefa has Our Lord say to His priests, "Above all let them never forget that I love them."

Miseries, Failings, and Destitution
Many are convinced that was because of this love that they were chosen, but when they are cast down at the sight of their miseries, of their faults even, then they grow sad at the thought that I love them less than before. How little such souls really know Me. They have not understood My Heart. For it is their very destitution and failings that incline My goodness towards them. And, when acknowledging their helplessness and weakness, they humble themselves and have recourse to Me trustfully, then indeed they give Me more glory than before their fault.

Was it not so with Saint Peter after his triple denial of the Lord? He humbled himself, and had recourse to Jesus trustfully, thereby giving Him more glory than before his sin. "And he said to Him: Lord, Thou knowest all things: Thou knowest that I love thee." (John 21:17)

Confidence in Prayer
It is the same when they pray, either for themselves or for others; if they waver and doubt, they do not glorify my Heart, but they do glorify It, if they are sure that I shall give them what they ask, knowing that I refuse them nothing that is good for their souls.

Priests are called to intercessory prayer in union with the Eternal High Priest who, standing in the heavenly sanctuary before His Father, "always living to make intercession for us." (Hebrews 7:25)

The Man Who Knew the Heart of Jesus
When the Centurion came to beg Me to cure his servant, he said very humbly: "I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof" . . . and faith and trust prevailing, he added: "Say but the word, and my servant shall be healed." This man knew My Heart. He knew that I could not resist the prayer of one who trusted me absolutely. He gave me much glory, for to humility he joined confidence. Yes, this man knew my Heart, yet I made no manifestations to him as I have to My chosen ones.

It pleased our Lord to recall to Josefa episodes familiar to her from her meditation of the Gospels and from the liturgy. This too is an argument in favour of the authenticity of her special graces: they draw upon and send her back to the Word of God and to the liturgy of the Church.

Hope Obtains Innumerable Graces
Hope obtains innumerable graces for self and for others. I want this to be thoroughly understood, so that My Heart's goodness may be revealed to those poor souls who as yet do not know Me.

The priest must be, above all, a man of hope. He must hope for those who dare not hope, and trust in the goodness of the Heart of Jesus for those who have yet to discover it.

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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