One of the greatest mystics of this century was Sister Josefa Menendez, who died in 1923 at the age of 33. This young Spanish sister, who had a short religious life of great suffering, experienced revelations throughout much of her life, compiled in The Way Of Divine Love. More than once, she was taken to Hell to witness and feel the suffering first-hand. Sister Josefa was reluctant to write on the subject of Hell, and did so only to conform to Our Lord’s wishes. Sister Josefa repeatedly dwelt on what she described as the greatest torment of Hell, namely, the soul’s inability to love. One of these damned souls cried out: “This is my torture…that I want to love and cannot; there is nothing left me but hatred and despair. If one of us could so much as make a single act of love…But we cannot, we live on hatred and malevolence…” (March 23, 1922).
She records, too, the accusations made against themselves by these unhappy souls: “Some yell because of the martyrdom of their hands. Perhaps they were thieves, for they say: ‘Where is our loot now?’ …Cursed hands… Others curse their tongues, their eyes…whatever was the occasion of sin… ‘Now, O body, you are paying the price of the delights you granted yourself!…and you did it of your own free will...'” (April 2, 1922).
“I saw several souls fall into Hell, and among them was a child of fifteen, cursing her parents for not having taught her to fear God nor that there was a Hell. Her life had been a short one, she said, but full of sin, for she had given in to all that her body and passions demanded in the way of satisfaction…” (March 22, 1923).
“My soul fell into abysmal depths, the bottom of which cannot be seen, for it is immense…; Then I was pushed into one of those fiery cavities and pressed, as it were, between burning planks, and sharp nails and red-hot irons seemed to be piercing my flesh. I felt as if they were endeavoring to pull out my tongue, but could not. This torture reduced me to such agony that my very eyes seemed to be starting out of their sockets. I think this was because of the fire which burns, burns … not a finger nail escapes terrifying torments, and all the time one cannot move even a finger to gain some relief, not change posture, for the body seems flattened out and [yet] doubled in two. Sounds of confusion and blasphemy cease not for an instant. A sickening stench asphyxiates and corrupts everything, it is like the burning of putrefied flesh, mingled with tar and sulphur … a mixture to which nothing on earth can be compared… although these tortures were terrific, they would be bearable if the soul were at peace. But it suffers indescribably… All I have written,” she concluded, “is but a shadow of what the soul suffers, for no words can express such dire torment.” (September 4, 1922).
“Today, I saw a vast number of people fall into the fiery pit . . . they seemed to be worldlings and a demon cried vociferously: ‘The world is ripe for me . . . I know that the best way to get hold of souls is to rouse their desire for enjoyment . . . Put me first . . . me before the rest . . . no humility for me! but let me enjoy myself . . . This sort of thing assures victory to me . . . and they tumble headlong into hell.’ ” (October 4, 1923)
“Tonight I was transported to a place where all was obscure. . . Around me were seven or eight people; I could see them only by the reflections of the fire. They were seated and were talking together. One said: ‘We’ll have to be very careful not to be found out, for we might easily be discovered.’
“The devil answered: ‘Insinuate yourselves by inducing carelessness in them . . . but keep in the background, so that you are not found out . . . by degrees they will become callous, and you will be able to incline them to evil. Tempt these others to ambition, to self-interest, to acquiring wealth without working, whether it be lawful or not. Excite some to sensuality and love of pleasure. Let vice blind them . . . As to the remainder . . . get in through the heart . . . you know the inclinations of their hearts . . . make them love . . .love passionately . . . work thoroughly . . . take no rest . . . have no pity. Let them cram themselves with food! It will make it all the easier for us . . . Let them get on with their banqueting. Love of pleasure is the door through which you will reach them . . .’ ” (February 3, 1923).
The original author of this blog passed away in July of 2016. RIP Father Carota.