Here on Catholic Exchange, I have had the opportunity to share other interviews with Susan Tassone: Answering Eight Questions About Purgatory and Celebrating Christmas in the Aftermath of Suicide. Now, I am delighted to share an interview about her most recent book St. Faustina Prayer Book for the Conversion of Sinners available from OSV, Amazon, or a Catholic bookstore near you. Susan is a prolific writer, having authored numerous works on Purgatory. With this book, she expands herself and shares her love of St. Faustina and the beautiful prayers contained in the diary. If you are looking for a resource to pray specifically for conversion, not only for ourselves, but for our family, country, and world, look no further than Susan’s latest book.
Fr. Looney: Your latest devotional book spotlights St. Faustina’s prayers for the conversion of sinners. Why St. Faustina? How long have you had a devotion to her?
Susan Tassone: I “discovered” St. Faustina’s Diary in the early ’80s—before she was a household name—and it fascinated me.
St. Faustina invites us to learn how to live the message of conversion daily, to avoid purgatory, and to become more faithful in praying for others.
EWTN told me the #1 most-requested prayers they receive worldwide are for conversions. There was no resource they could give people on what to do or how to pray. Now we have St. Faustina Prayer Book for the Conversion of Sinners for that.
You might be surprised at how often St. Faustina wrote about conversion. I was. In chapter after chapter, her Diary speaks of Jesus’ call for the conversion of sinners.
My previous books have focused more on purgatory so now I’m sometimes asked, “What does purgatory have to do with conversion?” We have to convert in order to avoid purgatory! What’s the chief way to avoid purgatory? Doing the will of God in all things in the present moment. What’s conversion? Striving to become better at doing his will. That theme runs throughout the whole Diary. My latest book, St. Faustina Prayer Book for the Conversion of Sinners, is an ideal accompaniment, a perfect match, for our own conversion and those of our loved ones.
The book gives a lot of good guidance, great teachings of the Church, valuable insights, and practical examples. It shows you how to place the lives of all your loved ones and friends into God’s merciful hands.
Just released, it is the #1 Best Seller at Our Sunday Visitor, and the #1 release in Saints and in Christian Prayer Books on Amazon. There’s no book like this.
In addition, St. Faustina had a very tender devotion to the holy souls in purgatory and it was extremely important to her. My first work on her was St. Faustina Prayer Book for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
Fr. Looney: When I was a young boy, I remember a few prayer books we had around the house. One was from Queenship Publishing, Pray, Pray, Pray, a few others include the blue Catholic Devotional, and the Pieta prayer book. Is there a draw in the third millennium, among millennials, to pray from a prayer book? Why not pray directly from our heart? Why pray already scripted prayers?
Susan Tassone: How to pray is very important. Jesus demands prayer and sacrifice. He instructed St. Faustina to pray certain kinds of prayers for the conversion of sinners. It comes directly from him! He told her—and us— to pray the Divine Mercy chaplet for sinners and for the dying and St. Faustina did it. He also asked her to make a special novena for the conversion of the whole world! She did that, too. The Diary tells us he said to her: “There is more merit to one hour of meditation on my sorrowful passion than there is merit to a whole year of flagellation that draws my blood” (369). He instructed her to contemplate his sacred wounds. This is of great value to us, and it brings him great joy! Needless to say, she did it.
St. Faustina Prayer Book for the Conversion of Sinners is filled with Jesus’ messages, her example, and the fruits of her prayer! We have all these novenas, meditations and prayers, how she sacrificed, and much more in our new book. We’re very excited about it. It’s packed with fascinating material! There’s no book on conversion like it.
Fr. Looney: In my own study of Marian apparitions, I have noticed a change in language. For example, in 1859, Mary appeared to Adele Brise in Wisconsin, and told her to offer her Holy Communion for the conversion of sinners. In 1917 at Fatima, Mary requested Eucharistic prayers of reparation for sin. There is a shift in language. As we look at the moral climate of our modern world today, in your estimation, or perhaps in the eyes of St. Faustina, from what do we most need to turn away today? What is our greatest vice/sin?
Susan Tassone: In the eyes of Faustina, the major cause of the problems of today’s world today is we reject God by our sinning. It’s our failure to follow God’s desire that we pray and be instruments of his Mercy through word, deed, and prayer. The key solution is in the conversion of sinners—in our turning back to God and praying for the conversion of sinners. We now have a prayer book to tell us how to pray and the power of intercessory prayer and intercessory suffering. Jesus gave St. Faustina a specific prayer to pray in which he promises the grace of conversion for that soul! It’s in the book. There’s also a wonderful story by a Marian priest who shares what happened when he faithfully and repeatedly offered this life-changing prayer for his father.
Fr. Looney: St. Faustina died in 1938. We are currently in the centennial year of the Fatima apparitions. Does St. Faustina make any reference to the apparitions of Fatima in her writings?
Susan Tassone: There’s no direct reference to Fatima. However, in addition asking St. Faustina to spread the message of Divine Mercy to help save souls, Jesus asked her to pray for the conversion of sinners. Mary’s message to the three Fatima children was that they work for the conversion of sinners through prayer and sacrifice. The children offered everything up. Now we’re to offer up the sacrifices demanded by our state in life. Offer our sufferings and problems that God permits. This includes offering them for the souls in purgatory. Both these messages remain with us today.
Fr. Looney: In our Catholic tradition, we have the wonderful example of St. Monica who prayed many years for the conversion of St. Augustine. What words of comfort would you, or St. Faustina, give to parents today who patiently wait the conversion of their son or daughter?
Susan Tassone: The conversions of an individual (a family member, a friend, and even an enemy) usually takes perseverance and sacrifice. One of the greatest examples is the conversion of St. Augustine who was caught up in a life of lust, having lived with two women and fathered a child by one of them. His devout mother, St. Monica, prayed her heart out for him. She went to church twice daily—day and night—for 16 years. Because of her trust in God’s mercy and her incredible dedication to praying for her son, St. Monica is an example of trust and hope for those who pray for the conversion of loved ones. Following St. Monica’s lead, the two basic ways to help your loved ones is to love them and to pray for them.
We have a great story in the book about how St. Faustina prayed for her sister, Wanda. It’s one of my favorites. Wanda was in a dark place. St. Faustina writes about what she did—about her prayers and sacrifices—and how, in her own words, “forced God” to give her sister grace.
Persevere in prayer. Don’t give up! God hears your prayers.
And—as Father Andrew Apostoli, wrote in the book’s foreword: “The one who helps the sinner convert will share in his or her glory in heaven. Above all, God Himself will be glorified by those who have been saved.”
Fr. Looney: It’s easy for us to look at others and say they need conversion. But the reality is we too need conversion. How can we better realize our own need for conversion?
Susan Tassone: We all need conversion. St. Bernard of Clairvaux said that there are more people converted from mortal sin than there are people converted from good to better. That’s what conversion is. It’s moving away from those favorite little vices that over the years have held us back from becoming the person God is calling us to be.
The book includes examples of our own “obstacles to conversion” as well as how to invoke the angels for help. It’s the most comprehensive book on conversion.
Let me give you an example. Imagine you lose your temper quickly, often hurting others—particularly people who love you—as well as hurting yourself. You can decide that when you feel the urge to be angry you’ll first pray for guidance from St. Faustina. After your prayer, you’ll slowly begin to learn kinder and more constructive ways to express your hurt and annoyances. Thus leading you to your better self.
Each of us knows areas where we stumble, again and again. We can use St. Faustina’s prayers and the examples of how she handled these situations to move us in the right direction. This is the type of material we offer in the book.
Fr. Looney: In your St. Faustina Prayer Book for the Conversion of Sinners, you include prayers from other saints. How do they relate to St. Faustina?
Susan Tassone: Faustina always wanted to be a saint. She had many favorite saints she invoked for their help and we include them in the book. The saints model conversion for us. All of them turned away from sin and turned to God. Consider St. Paul, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Therese of Lisieux. Each was converted to Christ over a series of years and continued to grow in holiness lifelong. We have a special Litany to the Saints of Conversion invoking them for the graces to become a saint by being faithful to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. We also include a unique section called Acts of the Apostles, Acts of Conversion. We record the earliest experiences of these first-century Christians from the Acts of the Apostles in order to reflect on their conversions, to take them as models, and to invoke their intercession. This has never been done before. It was fascinating to write about them and get to know them and “work with” these great converts! Now you can, too!
Fr. Looney: When we use the prayers you’ve collected in St. Faustina Prayer Book for the Conversion of Sinners, we hope that God answers our prayers, and many hearts turn back to God. If our prayers were answered and hearts changed how will priests, parishes, and dioceses handle the great demand for the sacraments?
Susan Tassone: That would be a great problem to have! I recently had the honor and privilege of speaking to 100 seminarians and faculty members at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Cleveland, talking to them about purgatory and how to preach on it. These seminarians were brimming with fervor. And, clearly, the faculty members were committed to teaching their students about the doctrine of purgatory and how to pray for conversion both for oneself and for the people they will serve in their parishes and ministries.
What a wonderful Sunday it would be if each parishioner could turn to the person next to them and tell others about their own conversion. Can you imagine the joy as each person shared what that journey has been like? My guess is that the seminarians and priests would welcome this golden opportunity.
As laity, priests and religious; as parishes and dioceses; as members of ministries and apostolates, we need to put our prayers into action. Doing God’s will through our kindnesses to the needy and others we’re called to serve will help convert us all. And if an additional result is a big demand for more priests, then we need to pray for more priests!
Fr. Looney: This is your tenth book. What keeps you writing? What’s next for you?
Susan Tassone: Our next book will be on adoration. Though I write the books, God is the chief inspiration. He directs me and inspires me through my prayer and fasting. He puts incredible people in my life to make these works possible. And then you, Father Looney, share these works with the world. Thank you!