On the 100th anniversary of St. John Paul’s birth, Pope Francis announced that the memorial of St. Faustina was no longer just for the local Polish Church, but one that should be celebrated by believers throughout the world. Her feast day is October 5th. During this Easter season, we prayed the Divine Mercy novena and celebrated Divine Mercy Sunday. And in the interesting times we live in, Jesus wants to speak to us through the messages He gave St. Faustina.
During the pandemic, many fears and worries have pervaded our minds about tomorrow. The message of Jesus speaks to us during this time of crisis. And how timely that Susan Tassone authored a devotion for the year titled Jesus Speaks to Faustina and You.
Let’s listen to Jesus now. Author Susan Tassone explains.
An Interview with Susan Tassone
Fr. Edward: Why did you write this book?
Susan Tassone: Think about what’s going on in the world today. Fear, anxiety, loss of loved ones, unprecedented unemployment since the time of the Great Depression.
When I began reading St. Faustina’s Diary, I was stunned to learn that Jesus wasn’t just speaking to her. He was speaking to each one of us. It was a treasure for me and I wanted to share it. The more I entered into the Diary, the more I realized that Jesus was giving us a blueprint for life. He tells us exactly what we must do to live a life worthy of heaven. Jesus has very clear directions on how to deal with the fear and anxiety which is so prevalent today.
During the time of the coronavirus pandemic, I think many of us have reflected about who we need to forgive and how we also need forgiveness. This is often called mercy—God’s mercy for us and God’s mercy for others. How does St. Faustina define mercy?
The Divine Mercy message is the same as it was in St. Faustina’s time. It applies to us now more than ever. Jesus wants us to remind us of His mercy and love. He told Faustina these are His greatest attributes and to contemplate these attributes. He doesn’t derive pleasure form the death of the wicked to turn from his evil way that he may live. Translated for us: be merciful to yourself and others. Exercise mercy. Forgive yourself and others. Share disagreements without becoming disagreeable. Turn to Divine Mercy for advice and comfort. Here is a perfect example of mercy from my book:
“When Napoleon sentenced a man to death, the man’s mother pleaded for her son’s life. Napoleon insisted that the crime’s gravity demanded her son’s life in justice. Sobbing, she cried, “Sir, I don’t seek justice, but mercy.” He said, “He’s undeserving of mercy.” She argued, “Sir, if he deserved it, it would not be mercy.” With that, Napoleon’s heart opened, “I will have mercy.” You want God’s mercy? Then show mercy. Whenever we can be merciful to someone, we ought to show that person the same mercy we desire from God at life’s last moment. A Christian woman, lying on her deathbed was asked, “Are you going to receive your reward?” With tears filling her eyes, she faintly whispered with pure love, “No. I am going to plead for mercy.”
We know so many people are dying right now from the coronavirus. How does the Divine Mercy message address prayer for the dying?
Throughout the Diary, Jesus repeatedly requests us to say the Chaplet for the dying. “Whoever will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death. Priests will recommend it to sinners as their last hope of salvation. Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this chaplet only once, he would receive grace from My infinite mercy. I desire that the whole world know My infinite mercy. I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in My mercy.” (Diary, 687)
The Divine Mercy Chaplet is powerful because it so succinctly and beautifully expresses God’s desire for the human family: that we place all of our trust in Him, and avail ourselves of His mercy which will unleash unimaginable graces. Even if it is recited only one time! Nevertheless, it is of great benefit to make the Chaplet a regular part of your daily life. Pray it unceasingly.
During the time of coronavirus, faithful Catholics have had to forego receiving Holy Communion and instead make a Spiritual Communion. If we can’t receive Holy Communion, is there another means by which we could receive Eucharistic grace?
Jesus told St. Faustina:
“Go to the Superior and ask her to allow you to make a daily hour of adoration for nine days.” (Diary, 32)
What do St. John Paul II, St. Mother Teresa, and St. Faustina have in common? Adoration! They relied on it. They drew strength, consolation, and support from it. Adoration is part of the spiritual life of every saint because it transforms lives and transforms the world. St. Faustina shared her joys with Him. She asked for healing. She wept in front of Jesus. She thanked Him, loved Him, and rested in Him.
She came to know herself and God. It was Adoration that called her forth to go out and help others. It was Adoration that empowered her to share Jesus’ compassion to everyone she encountered. She became the one she befriended. In a special way she offered her adoration for her parents and her whole family.
What if you are unable to go to an Adoration chapel? Many times Faustina was too frail and sick to leave her room. On those occasions, she would spiritually “take flight.” You can make spiritual adoration at any time. From your sofa or wheelchair. In your car. At work. On a walk. Even waiting in line! From your own heart. “I adore You.” Just as long as you turn your heart and mind toward the Lord. Pray and makes sacrifices for the conversion of sinners and your family.
Many people right now feel discouraged and defeated because of the coronavirus. What does Jesus have to say to them?
Yes! These are times we are on pins and needles and many are feeling very discouraged. Jesus told Faustina this about discouragement:
“When boredom and discouragement beat against your heart, run away from yourself and hide in My Heart.” (Diary, 1760)
Idle souls are easy prey for demons. Struggling with boredom, we are led into discouragement. Discouragement is the devil’s tool for wreaking havoc, as an old legend records:
“Once upon a time, the devil had a garage sale. Selling his tools, he marked each with a high price: hatred, envy, lust, deceit, lying, and pride. Set apart from these was a rather harmless-looking but well-worn tool marked much higher than the rest. It was marked: ‘Not for Sale.’
A shopper asked, ‘What is that tool? Why isn’t it for sale?’
‘Well,’ Satan whispered, ‘‘I can’t afford to sell it! That’s my chief tool — discouragement. I can pry open a heart with it, and once I’m there, I can do anything I want.’ ”
While discouragement can paralyze us, we can overcome it with confidence in God. When we practice charity, we get out of our miserable little selves and enter the immense Heart of God. Sacrificial love like this, no matter how small, evicts the enemy.
Faustina said: Whatever Jesus did, He did well. He went along, doing good. His manner was full of goodness and mercy. His steps were guided by compassion. Toward His enemies He showed goodness, kindness, and understanding, and to those in need help and consolation. (Diary, 1175).
During the coronavirus we all are staying home and quarantined to stop the spread and flatten the curve. Does Jesus have advice for us about our home life?
Family schedules are jam-packed. Oftentimes, families don’t even find time to have dinner together, because of school activities, sports, and other things. Once, when St. Faustina was given permission by her Superior to take some time out for pleasure, Jesus told her to “stay home” instead. It’s not that we can’t enjoy pleasures or be involved in activities, but sometimes it’s good to stay home too.
The Irish priest, Venerable Father Patrick Peyton, once remarked, “The family that prays together stays together.” As he encouraged families to pray the daily Rosary, we’re reminded prayer bonds the family together. Scripture says a threefold cord is not easily broken. It’s paramount for spouses to pray together with their children, because it creates a spiritual bond in their marriage and family. Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI commented: “The family is the ‘little Church’ because it transmits God, it transmits the love of Christ, by the power of the sacrament of matrimony.” Make the “little church” of your home — a place of love and prayer.
Fr. Edward’s Concluding Thoughts
Jesus has a message for us today. It’s a message that echoes His words from the gospels. During this time of pandemic and panic, familiarize yourself with the words of Jesus that He speaks to us today. Acquaint yourself with St. Faustina and the Divine Mercy message. It will change your life and how you pray. Open your eyes and ears and listen to Jesus’ words as He speaks to you through St. Faustina.
We also recommend Susan Tassone’s previous book, Day by Day with Saint Faustina.