Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005 and before that a regular correspondent for the paper. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, Catholic Exchange <i>, and <i>Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in major newspapers. He is the author of Fruits of Fatima — Century of Signs and Wonders. He holds a graduate degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
With her new book Day by Day with Saint Faustina: 365 Reflections, author Susan Tassone has come up with another best-seller that takes a giant leap into the Divine Mercy devotion based on the writings of St. Faustina in her Dairy.
Although this is her fourth book on St. Faustina — the others in the Divine Mercy Family being St. Faustina Prayer Book for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, St. Faustina Prayer Book for the Conversion of Sinners, and St. Faustina Prayer Book for Adoration — Tassone has come up with yet another approach and perspective that can easily draw old and new readers into the Divine Mercy message and living in a way that’s both simple and yet so spiritually rich and profound.
What format does she use so effectively? The title tells all. Each day of the year begins with a quote from St. Faustina and her Diary. Tassone follows each quote with a short “Reflection.” Next comes a very short prayer tying both quote and reflection together. One page per day.
These may be bite-sized pieces, easily understood and digestible, but each one comprises a full, hearty spiritual meal that will make understanding the quote easy. It tells you how to put that day’s thought or revelation from St. Faustina into practice in your life, no matter who or where you are. At the same time, it tells you, it inspires you to follow through and do so.
Tassone does this with catchy, colorful and clever descriptions that play an important part in keeping your attention and kick-starting your response.
Take the day of July 22 heading:
A NIAGARA FALLS OF MERCY.
O Blood and Water, which gushed forth form the Heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in You (Diary 84).
Reflection: “We tend to think of a ‘fount’ as a quiet spring or delicate water fountain. But St. Faustina said Christ’s Blood and water ‘gushed’ from His heart. In that sense, it’s a Niagara Falls of love, a flooded river of grace, a tsunami of forgiveness. It can knock one over, sweep us away, and lift us higher and higher … and closer and closer to Him.”
Prayer: Dear Jesus, I am at Your mercy. Thank God. Jesus, I trust in You.
And Nov. 19 (“LOVINGLY”):
[Jesus said to St. Faustina:] Daughter, I need sacrifice lovingly accomplished, because that alone has meaning for Me. Enormous indeed are the debts of the world which are due to Me; pure souls can pay them by their sacrifice, exercising mercy in spirit (Diary, 1316).
Reflection: “Why couldn’t Jesus have just said, ‘I need sacrifice accomplished’? Why did He have to include ‘lovingly’? That pretty much eliminates doing it in a grumpy or sanctimonious way. And! We have to cover for others’ ‘debts.’ It doesn’t seem fair. But then again, thank God, God isn’t fair. Imagine if He gave us what we deserved!”
There’s March 24 (“DESIGNATED SUFFERER”)
The Reflection begins: “In baseball terms it’s the “designated hitter.” The player who doesn’t play a position, but instead fills in the batting order for the pitcher. St. Faustina offers to be the ‘designated sufferer,’ accepting what ‘other souls have refused to accept.’ Was that because she liked “great and protracted” suffering? Of course not.”
And Aug. 5, the Feast of Our Lady of Mercy, on “APPARENT OBSTACLES”:
After the Blessed Virgin told Faustina, I am Mother to you all, thanks to the unfathomable mercy of God. Most pleasing to Me is that soul which faithfully carries out the will of God…Be courageous. Do not fear apparent obstacles, but x your gaze upon the Passion of My Son, and in this way you will be victorious (Diary, 449), comes the Reflection: “What a comforting message of advice and encouragement Mary shares with her beloved daughter, or son. Do the will of God. Be brave. Don’t be afraid of bumps in the road…or mountains to climb. Remember Christ’s Passion and you will win!”
Winning means becoming a saint, and one of the book’s aims is to help you become a saint, “the person God is calling you to be as you grow in your love of Divine Mercy day by day.” Tassone points out that Mother Angelica said: “We are all called to be Saints, don’t miss the opportunity!”
Insights from the Author
A frequent guest on EWTN Live with Father Mitch Pacwa and on Women of Grace, and known as the “Purgatory Lady” for several books promoting prayers for the Holy Souls, Tassone shared insights with the Register about her latest book.
She noted that we can use it in a number of ways. Naturally, you can do the daily quote from St. Faustina, the Reflection, and the prayer chronologically. But no one is obligated to follow ony that course. Tassone mentioned that “you can open the book and read something in a bite-size piece, one nugget of wisdom at a time — a day by day dose of wisdom.” Or “more than that.” You can “open to any page to be inspired. You can use this book as a daily devotional, to follow the liturgical seasons too, or just pick it up and read as the Spirit leads you.”
For instance, one month focuses on Lent and brings in sacrifice. Mary get great attention for her month of May and “her relation to Faustina and us.” Highlighted, too, are feasts or Jesus, Mary, and some saints.
Tassone didn’t pick out “arbitrary quotes from the Diary.” She organized the quotes in a couple of ways. One, to help readers understand the “essential elements of the Divine Mercy message — trust, works of mercy, the image, the feast day, the Chaplet and novena — but the major themes.” Two, according to the “key themes repeated over and over again throughout the Diary.” She “put them in an organized fashion and wove them throughout the book.”
The key themes deal with Holy Communion, Confession, Adoration, praying for the dying, doing God’s will, the love God has for us, The Trinity, devotion to our Blessed Mother, value of suffering and sacrifice, and devotion to the holy souls in purgatory.
And Tassone fits everything together as a “solid answer for those asking how to apply Faustina’s teaching and example in daily life.” She explained that the inspiration came in several ways. Among them, the Daughters of St. Paul informed her that people come into their store, sharing how they’ve read the Diary, but “they don’t know what to do with it.” The Divine Mercy Shrine staff told her that people were asking for a Day-by-Day book for the Diary.
Day by Day with St. Faustina: 365 Reflections answers those needs. Especially relevant today.
“St. Faustina’s message was forward thinking and maybe intended more for our time,” Tassone emphasized. “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.”
Meant for Today’s World
“The Divine Mercy message is the same as it was in St. Faustina’s time,” Tassone added. “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.”
She pointed out a favorite quote from Faustina: 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 (Diary, 1292).
Faustina “invites us to learn how to live the message of conversion, to avoid purgatory and to become more faithful in praying for others, living and deceased.” Tassone wanted the book to “show how to apply these fundamentals in your life” through the Diary’s “major teachings, insights, and revelations” and Faustina’s encouraging us “to do God’s will, fulfill our mission on earth, and trust in him.” To do this Tassone brings these out themes “in contemporary language, using images and eye-opening analogies…to help you apply them in your life.”
Some of the specifics in that line that the author brings out? She explained:
St. Faustina helps 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; 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 souls in purgatory; understand and take advantage of the spiritual powerhouse that is the sacrament of Reconciliation; and become a person of mercy’ by learning from St. Faustina.
Speaking of mercy, Tassone collected all the promises of Jesus, the Divine Mercy, that he made connected with the devotions in the book’s first appendix. It’s a treasure of comfort and encouragement and inspiration. No one should want to ignore or pass up on these promises.
There’s another important prayer that Tassone calls an “eternal life-changing prayer” that Jesus gave to St. Faustina with the promise of conversion of the soul you pray this prayer for.
The author emphasized that it’s her hope and prayer “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.”
DAY BY DAY WITH ST. FAUSTINA: 365 REFLECTIONS
By Susan Tassone
Sophia Press, 2019
416 pages, $16.95
To order: SophiaInstitute.com or (800) 888-9344