An Interview with Susan Tassone
Susan Tassone earned the title “Purgatory Lady” because of her numerous books promoting devotion to praying for the Holy Souls. Now on her fourth book on St. Faustina, perhaps Tassone could earn the nickname “St. Faustina’s Secretary.” Her first three books about St. Faustina and Divine Mercy pertained to praying the dead, for conversion, and drawing closer to adoration.
Now, with her fourth book, Day by Day with St. Faustina: 365 Reflections, Tassone breaks open the Diary of St. Faustina in digestible pieces with meditations for each day of the year. Thematically arranged to correspond to the Church’s liturgical year, this book of meditations would make a great companion for the days of Lent, Divine Mercy Novena, and the season of Easter, and for that matter, the rest of the year!
Susan Tassone shares what we can learn from St. Faustina in this interview.
Fr. Looney: Why Faustina is particularly worthwhile for today’s audience?
Susan Tassone: St. Faustina’s message was forward thinking and maybe intended more for our time. Her message seems perfectly suited to the issues roiling our country. So many of us are angry, sadly often with people we love because they do not see the world as we want them to see it. St. Faustina gives us a path to follow. She says follow God’s will. Be merciful with yourself and others. Forgive yourself and others. Share disagreements without becoming disagreeable. We can all turn to the Divine Mercy message for advice and comfort.
Fr. Looney: Out of all the saints and mystics in the Catholic tradition, what drew you to St. Faustina?
Susan Tassone: Promoting prayers for the Holy Souls has long been a personal mission dear to my heart, but it was Father Dan Cambra, of the Marian Helpers, who suggested writing about that in relation to St. Faustina’s Diary.
I have now written my fourth book based on St. Faustina and her Diary. The first was St. Faustina Prayer Book for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, which came out in 2016. The second was St. Faustina Prayer Book for the Conversion of Sinners, published in 2017. The most recent was St. Faustina Prayer Book for Adoration, and now Day by Day with St. Faustina: 365 Reflections.
Fr. Looney: This is your fourth book drawing upon St. Faustina and her Diary. Why did you write this book?
- The Daughters of St. Paul told me that people come into their store and tell them that they read the Diary and now they don’t know what to do with it!
- I had another friend tell me that she listens to the Diary on CD in her car and after that wonders, “Okay, now what do I do?”
- The Divine Mercy Shrine staff told me people call in and ask if they have a Day by Day book for the Diary!
- A priest who endorsed the book said he felt a little intimidated by the depth—and length—of the visionary’s Diary.
I’m happy to say Day by Day with St. Faustina is both a comprehensive introduction to her writing AND A solid answer for those asking how to apply her teaching and example in daily life.
I am so pleased and grateful that the result is a book that doesn’t have just “a little something for everybody.” It has a lot of something for all of us, no matter how familiar—or unfamiliar you are with the diary of this great saint!
St. Faustina’s Diary is a teaching on the fundamentals of the spiritual life of a Christian and a vehicle for spreading the Divine Mercy message. She shows you how to draw closer to God. To put your trust in Him.
Day by Day with St. Faustina, walks you through her Diary and shows you how to apply these fundamentals in your life. If you have read the Diary, this will help you apply it.
If you have not read the Diary, this will help you walk through it. It will help you understand not only the essential elements of the Divine Mercy message (trust, works of mercy, the image a feast day, chaplet and novena) but the major themes and the rarely printed promises Jesus made not only to St. Faustina but to those who would pray to, promote, and trust in Divine Mercy.
Fr. Looney: Day by Day with Saint Faustina has been described as a “spiritual warehouse” revealing the beauty, truth and wisdom found in St. Faustina’s Diary. What can people expect from this book?
Susan Tassone: I discovered there are key themes in the Diary that were repeated over and over again throughout the Diary. So, I did not pick out arbitrary quotes from the Diary.
These major themes were scattered throughout the diary.
I put them in an organized fashion and wove them throughout the book.
In order for an art form to speak to today’s modern world it has to draw from universal themes and present them in a fresh way. This book does just that. I fleshed out the teachings and in contemporary language, used images and eye-opening analogies and reflections to help you apply them in your life.
The reflections and prayers are fresh and original. I think you will be surprised and I hope you will enjoy them!
St. Faustina gave us a lot of material to work with!
The themes include:
- Holy Communion
- Confession (Sacrament of Reconciliation)
- Praying for the Dying
- Doing God’s Will
- The Love God has for us
- The Trinity
- The Cross
- Devotion to Our Lady
- Value of Suffering and Sacrifice
- St. Faustina’s communion with, and devotion to the holy souls in purgatory
Fr. Looney: What has stood out for you most in her Diary and the Divine Mercy message; is there anything that surprised you?
Susan Tassone: It was the love of God that took my breath away. He loves us more than anybody can. And we were chosen before time to be with Him for all eternity!
In one of my favorite quotes, St. Faustina writes: “When I received Holy Communion, I said to Him, “Jesus, I thought about You so many times last night,” and Jesus answered me, And I thought of you before I called you into being. “Jesus, in what way were You thinking about me?” In terms of admitting you to My eternal happiness. After these words, my soul was flooded with the love of God. I could not stop marveling at how much God loves us.” (Diary, 1292)
Jesus says to her, if I call creatures into being, that is the abyss of My mercy. He could have called anybody into being, but He picked you and me; it’s a tremendous grace to be born. Faustina tells us: He doesn’t need us. He is self-sufficient.
Fr. Looney: The Diary of St. Faustina once was forbidden due to a faulty translation. Thanks to the papacy of St. John Paul II, St. Faustina has become a household Catholic name. Given the state of the world today, what part of Jesus’ message to Faustina does our world need to hear today?
Susan Tassone: The Divine Mercy message is the same as it was in St. Faustina’s time. It applies to us now more than ever. The Lord wants to remind us of his infinite mercy and love. He told Faustina these are his greatest attributes. He does not derive pleasure from the death of the wicked but to turn from his evil way that he may live.
Also, I think Bishop Thomas Olmsted captured that message in his Foreword of the book:
As we walk through life in this “valley of tears,” we are often beset by trials of various kinds. We experience temptations, the misery of our weaknesses and sinfulness, conflicts with others, misunderstandings, and more. It can be encouraging for us to know that many saints experienced similar struggles, and we can learn much from them about how to navigate the stormy waters of life in this world.
The secret for St. Faustina was constant prayer. We learn from her Diary that she brought everything to the Lord in prayer, then listened to Him and received all that He wanted to tell her. In this way, St. Faustina was led day by day and even moment by moment into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, the source of her happiness.
She teaches us to do the same.
Fr. Looney: What encouragement would you give to someone who has not been able to make it through the entirety of Faustina’s diary?
Susan Tassone: Day by Day with St. Faustina walks you through the treasury of the Diary’s major teachings, insights, and revelations plus her day to day thoughts and advice on how to live a Christian life. Through this book Faustina encourages us to be who we are called to be. To do God’s will. Fulfill your mission on earth, and trust in Him.
You can go to the Diary at any point and look up the passages that peak your interest, or want to know more about it. I share the themes, beauty, and comfort the Diary offers all of us. It’s a grace- filled nudge that encourages each of us to read the Diary itself. Hopefully Day by Day with St. Faustina will help you feel more comfortable in doing that.
Fr. Looney: What is the most important lesson you have taken away from your study of St. Faustina?
Susan Tassone: Of course, HIS LOVE for us and his MERCY. How we were chosen to be created before the beginning of time no matter what the circumstances were. We were in His mind as Pope Benedict states “so to speak forever.” If we truly understood how much we are loved by God there would be no wars, no crime. How to live and go about doing good.
The book is filled with many important lessons I and Faustina want to share with you!
St. Faustina will help you:
- Grow closer to Christ in the Eucharist.
- Develop a stronger, deeper daily prayer life . . . with the help of the angels and saints.
- Get along better with others, including those closest to you.
- Apply her “Secrets of Sanctity.”
- Trust God more.
- Let the realities of heaven, hell, and purgatory influence your choices now.
- Love the Blessed Mother even more, and let her love draw you closer to her Son.
- Use your suffering to help others, including the souls in purgatory.
- Come to better understand, and take advantage of, the spiritual powerhouse that is the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
- Become a person of mercy by learning from the Saint of Mercy, a woman who spent her life — day by day — teaching others about the infinite love and compassion of God, who is Divine Mercy.
It’s my hope, my prayer — for you and for me — that we take St. Faustina’s message to heart as we read it, reflect on it, pray it … and live it.
Day by day, with St. Faustina.
Fr. Looney: When it comes to daily devotionals, a lot of people begin well, but then fall off, what advice do you have to someone who struggles with reading something on a daily basis?
Susan Tassone: You can use this book however you like – as a daily devotional, to follow the liturgical seasons – or, just pick it up and read as the Spirit leads you. That is what is so good about this book. That means you can open the book and read something in a bite-size piece, one nugget of wisdom at a time. Some people like a day by day dose of wisdom, others like more than that.
You can choose a certain time of year to pick it up, too. Or, as I have, sat and read it as a regular book, going from day to day, page by page. Faustina’s words and our reflections are not measured by days.
God is good … and full of surprises. I just feel so tremendously blessed to be allowed to play a role in helping people learn more about St. Faustina and what she has to share with all of us. She will be declared a Doctor of the Church in the not too distant future. Now we have these books that address the topics that played a prominent role in her mission Jesus gave her.
Day by Day with Saint Faustina: 365 Reflections is available from Sophia Institute Press.