An Interview with Susan Tassone
Catholic author Susan Tassone, affectionately known as the “Purgatory Lady” and more recently as St. Faustina’s Secretary, offers readers a devotional, Praying with Jesus and Faustina During Lent & in Times of Suffering. It’s not only for Lent, but for the entire year. The Lenten season focuses on the passion, suffering, and death of Jesus. Many people will pray the Stations of the Cross and meditate on Christ’s Passion.
Yet, suffering is something that happens all throughout our life. It is not limited to just the 40 days of Lent. A person suffers when tragedy strikes their home. We receive a serious medical diagnosis, a job loss. We can turn to Jesus in these moments. Using the words of Jesus and the example of St. Faustina, you will uncover the hidden meaning of suffering from a spiritual perspective. Susan Tassone shares more in this interview.
Fr. Edward: What makes your book different from other devotionals on Lent?
Susan Tassone: Praying with Jesus and Faustina During Lent and In Times of Suffering is a unique book focusing on the passion through the words of Jesus and Faustina. The focus is coming from the actual words of Jesus and Faustina, which makes it like no other. This book perfectly addresses the terrible times and sufferings we are experiencing today. You don’t find contemporary books nor a combination like this. Jesus told St. Faustina many things about his passion. I wanted to capture his words about his sorrows and his sacrificial death that he spoke of to St. Faustina and to us. Jesus’s words through St. Faustina still speak to us today.
Your book isn’t just for Lent, but also “in times of suffering.” This is one of the world’s most ancient questions: why do we have to suffer? What is the purpose of suffering? Is there any value to suffering?
St. Faustina had the best teacher because Jesus told her how to handle suffering. He shared with her the value of suffering and how your daily work can be transformed into a sacrifice for peace in the world, for the peace in our hearts and families, the conversion of sinners, and the eternal rest for our dear deceased loved ones when offered to God. He said to her and us: Join your little sufferings to My Sorrowful Passion, so that they may have infinite value before My Majesty. (1512) The smallest sacrifice finds great value in my eyes. (639)
Faustina said: “I saw that my suffering and prayer shackled Satan and snatched many souls from his clutches. (1465). What an image. Shackling . . . and snatching . . . from his clutches. It’s you who can snap on the shackles and snatch others from . . . Satan. It’s you who has the power — by offering up your suffering and prayers — to help save countless souls.”
How does St. Faustina inspire us during our suffering?
Jesus taught her to treat trials as a positive opportunity to learn love of neighbor. Whoever turned to her for help she was kind, humble and polite.
We are plagued by all kinds of trials. We experience temptations, disagreements with others, misunderstandings, and persecutions. Faustina experienced the same struggles. She handled her suffering with Jesus. We are never alone. St. Faustina teaches us this. She said, “I am never alone, because He is my constant companion. He is present to me at every moment.” (318)
Can our suffering be efficacious for the world?
Faustina said: Suffering is the greatest treasure on earth, it purifies the soul. (342)
Oh, if only the suffering soul knew how it is loved by God. It would die of joy and excess of happiness! Someday, we will know the value of suffering but then we will no longer be able to suffer. The present moment is ours. (953)
Our suffering united to the cross is called redemptive suffering. Making suffering a prayer participates in the redemptive act of Jesus. Jesus told St. Faustina as much: “My daughter, I want to instruct you on how you are to rescue souls through sacrifice and prayer. You will save more souls through prayer and suffering than will a missionary through his teachings and sermons alone. I want to see you as a sacrifice of living love, which only then carries weight before Me.” (1764)
Should we ask Jesus to send us suffering?
We don’t have to ask for suffering. It comes our way! This book reveals that St. Faustina knew and experienced this. She suffered physically from a terminal illness (Tuberculosis), she suffered spiritually and mentally, as many do. She went through a dark night of the soul. She had emotional sufferings because the nuns thought she was trying to avoid working. They didn’t believe she was sick. Faustina said: Community life is difficult in itself, but it is doubly difficult to get along with proud souls. O God give me a deeper faith that I may always see in every sister your Holy image…. (1522) We may not live in a convent but we live with family. She held her tongue and asked Jesus to deign to heal her tongue so she would not offend God or her neighbor by it. She said the soul will not attain sanctity if it does not keep watch over its tongue. She overcame her impatience, and aversions as an opportunity to be offered to God in doing His will. This is the secret to sanctity.
What is the value of Litanies?
Litanies are powerful remedies against the evil of the world! They are a form of intense prayer used as prayers of intercession, peace, pardon, protection, plagues and calamities.
Jesus directed Faustina: Make a novena for your country. This will consist of the recitation of the Litany of the Saints. (59)
St. John Paul II had a stack of favorite litanies in his kneeler. Blessed Solanus Casey constantly prayed the Litany of Loreto for Our Lady’s intercession. Faustina wrote litanies. We have some rare and unique litanies including a litany to the Precious Blood written by St. Catherine of Siena, a Litany of Fasting, a Litany of Longing and much more!
What wisdom does Faustina have to offer during the Lenten season and in times of suffering today?
Faustina shows us how to live Lent and outside of Lent in a powerful way. Not simply meditating on the suffering of Jesus but living it out in our own spiritual lives. We can think each day of the passion of humanity and realize how our daily work can be transformative, as I said earlier. We will see not only the evil of the world, but the love that exists.
Faustina never forgot the holy souls in purgatory who visited her. They told Faustina they needed her sufferings and masses.
We can give alms year-round for our deceased loved ones by offering masses, and Gregorian masses. This is the Year of St. Joseph. In his honor offer Masses for yourselves, your families and your deceased loved ones. Contact the Pious Union of St. Joseph at www.pusj.org. Jesus said: The strength by which you bear sufferings comes from frequent Communions. So approach this fountain of mercy often to draw with the vessel of trust whatever you need. (1487)
It seems that this book would is perfect for Holy Week when we intently meditate on the passion of Jesus. Why focus on Christ’s passion? What does it do for the devotee?
If you want to please and delight Jesus this is one way He wants you to do that. It opens the window on how to please and delight the Lord. Jesus said, “You please me most when you meditate on my sorrowful passion.” (1512) In another place, “The contemplation of my painful wounds is of great profit to you, and it brings me great joy.” (369)
Jesus emphasizes his love for us! if we want to understand mercy we need to look at what Jesus did. The mystery of divine mercy is revealed totally in his passion. The passion of Jesus is the most powerful sign of God’s love for us.
Jesus said: Remember my passion, and if you do not believe my words, at least believe my wounds. (379)
I came down from heaven out of love for you; I lived for you; I died for you, I created the heavens for you. (853)
If my death has not convinced you of my love what will? (580)
God, You could have saved thousands of worlds with one word; a single sigh from Jesus would have satisfied Your justice. But You Yourself, Jesus, purely out of love for us, underwent such a terrible Passion. Your Father’s justice would have been propitiated with a single sigh from You, and all Your self-abasement is solely the work of Your mercy and Your inconceivable love. (1747)
We need to appreciate that.
editor’s note: You can find Praying with Jesus and Faustina During Lent and in Times of Suffering at your local Catholic bookstore or online through Sophia Institute Press.
image: Shrine of Divine Mercy in Baltimore, MD. by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P. / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)