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St. Faustina Prayer Book for the Conversion of Sinners

Sun, 04/09/2017 - 22:05

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!

image: St. Faustina by Darte / Pixabay

Holy Weekdays

Sun, 04/09/2017 - 22:02

I love Holy Week. It’s my favorite week of the year. Liturgically, it doesn’t get any better than this: Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday.

But what about the rest of Holy Week? Is there anything special about Monday through Wednesday? Today seems like a normal Tuesday to me. I still have to go to class.

Certainly, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of Holy Week aren’t as solemn, impressive, or attractive as the other days; there are no palm leaves, no washing of feet, no long processions, no elaborate chants, no giant candle. Perhaps, however, the “low profile” of these days can serve as a useful topic for meditation.

In this regard, an antiphon from Vespers of the Monday of Holy Week caught my attention: “He had neither beauty, nor majesty, nothing to attract our eyes.” These words, taken from the Prophet Isaiah, remind us of the down-to-earth reality of Jesus’ human life. He was born as a lowly child, lived as a poor man, and died as an outcast. In many ways he was a man who might easily escape attention, especially for those caught up in what the world deems important or noteworthy.

The most trivial things can catch our attention: a shiny object, a sudden noise, a pleasant aroma. If we are not careful, indulgence of the senses can make us habitually intemperate, and blind us to more profound, spiritual realities.

But there is another way in which we, who sincerely desire to live the Christian life, can “miss the mark.” When I was just beginning religious life, a Dominican priest gave me the following advice: “You’ve come this far in your life, but remember, the goal is not the habit; it’s not the Novitiate; it’s not the House of Studies; it’s not passing your final exams; it’s not even Ordination. The goal is Jesus Christ!”

The goal of our lives goes beyond what we can see, what we can predict. As St.Paul says, “We walk by faith, not by sight.” Learning to walk by faith is like learning to walk at all: we cannot skip a step if we are to do it properly. Every step must be taken with care.

So, this Holy Week, let us learn to walk again: not skipping from Palm Sunday to Holy Thursday, but walking with Jesus every step of the way, even on an “unimpressive” Tuesday.

Editor’s note: This article first appeared on Dominicanathe Dominican student blog of the Province of St. Joseph and is reprinted here with kind permission. 

In the Gospel reading we see the love

Sun, 04/09/2017 - 22:00

In the Gospel reading we see the love and devotion of Mary who anointed the feet of Jesus with expensive perfume and wiped his feet with her hair: “was she not keeping it for the day of my burial?”

Judas, who was a thief and would betray Jesus, dared to complain about the “waste”: “This perfume could have been sold for three hundred silver coins and turned over to the poor.”

For Mary the expensive perfume was but a sign of her love and respect for the Lord who had taught her and others so much, who had been such a help for so many. For Judas the expensive perfume was a waste because, despite their years and time together, he did not really love and respect the Lord. If one loves, nothing is too expensive for the beloved.

In the first reading the prophet Isaiah reminds us of the key mission of the Messiah, “as a light to the nations, to open eyes that do not see, to free captives from prison, to bring out to light those who sit in darkness.”

Lord, come and save us.

St. Fulbert of Chartres

Sun, 04/09/2017 - 22:00

Fulbert was born in France around the year 962. He attended school in Reims and was taught by the famous Gerbert, who became Pope Sylvester II in the year 999. Fulbert followed Pope Sylvester to Rome. When Pope Sylvester II died in 1003, Fulbert returned to France where he started a school at Chartres. This school was the most famous seat of education in France. Scholars from all over France, Italy, Germany, and England attended school there. Fulbert became chancellor of the church of Chartres and was the treasurer of St. Hilary’s at Poitiers. Later he was elected bishop of Chartres and he rebuilt the cathedral when it burned down. He had the assistance of King Canute of England, Duke William of Aquitaine and other European leaders in rebuilding the cathedral in great splendor.

Fulbert had a great deal of influence over the secular leaders of his day and was very active in fighting simony within the Church. He worked hard at reforming the clergy and was very much against the practice of granting ecclesiastical benefits to laymen. Fulbert died on April 10, 1029.

Lessons

Saint Fulbert’s epistles are of great historical value. The epistles give information on the liturgy during his time and the discipline of the Church in that century. Two treatises are in the form of homilies. Five of his nine sermons are on the blessed Mother, to whom he had great devotion.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, we pray that St. Fulbert will intercede for our clergy when they need strengthening to make the right decisions. May they always stay true to Church teachings and to You, we pray.  Amen.

Other Saints We Remember Today

St. Ezekiel (6th Century B.C.), 1 of 4 major prophets of Old Testament

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

Sun, 04/09/2017 - 02:35
Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

Presence of God: O Jesus, I want to follow You in Your triumph, so that I may follow You later to Calvary.

MEDITATION

Holy Week begins with the description of the triumphal entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem on the Sunday before His Passion. Jesus, who had always been opposed to any public manifestation and who had fled when the people wanted to make Him their king (cf. John 6:15), allows Himself to be borne in triumph today. Not until now, when He is about to die, does He submit to being publicly acclaimed as the Messiah, because by dying on the Cross, He will be, in the most complete manner: Messiah, Redeemer, King, and Victor. He allows Himself to be recognized as King, but a King who will reign from the Cross, who will triumph and conquer by dying on the Cross. The same exultant crowd that acclaims Him today will curse Him in a few days and lead Him to Calvary; today’s triumph will be the vivid prelude to tomorrow’s Passion.

Jesus enters the holy city in triumph, but only in order to suffer and die there. Hence, the twofold meaning of the Procession of the Palms: it is not enough to accompany Jesus in His triumph; we must follow Him in His Passion, prepared to share in it by stirring up in ourselves, according to St. Paul’s exhortation (Philippians 2:5-11), His sentiments of humility and total immolation, which will bring us, like Him and with Him, “unto death, even to the death of the Cross.” The palms which the priest blesses today have not only a festive significance; they also “represent the victory which Jesus is about to win over the prince of death” (Roman Missal). For us too, they must be symbols of triumph, indicative of the victory to be won in our battle against the evil in ourselves and against the evil which roams about us. As we receive the blessed palm, let us renew our pledge to conquer with Jesus, but let us not forget that it was on the Cross that He conquered.

COLLOQUY

“O Jesus, I contemplate You in Your triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. Anticipating the crowd which would come to meet You, You mounted an ass and gave an admirable example of humility in the midst of the acclamations of the crowd who cut branches of trees and spread their garments along the way. While the people were singing hymns of praise, You were filled with pity and wept over Jerusalem. Rise now, my soul, handmaid of the Savior, join the procession of the daughters of Sion and go out to meet your King. Accompany the Lord of heaven and earth, seated on an ass; follow Him with olive and palm branches, with works of piety and with victorious virtues” (cf. St. Bonaventure).

O Jesus, what bitter tears You shed over the city which refused to recognize You! And how many souls, like Jerusalem, go to perdition on account of their obstinate resistance to grace! For them, I pray with all my strength. “My God, this is where Your power and mercy should be shown. Oh! what a lofty grace I ask for, O true God, when I conjure You to love those who do not love You, to answer those who do not call to You, to give health to those who take pleasure in remaining sick!… You say, O my Lord, that You have come to seek sinners. Here, Lord, are the real sinners. But, instead of seeing our blindness, O God, consider the precious Blood which Your Son shed for us. Let Your mercy shine out in the midst of such great malice. Do not forget, Lord, that we are Your creatures, and pour out on us Your goodness and mercy” (Teresa of Jesus, Exclamations of the Soul to God, 8).

Even if we resist grace, O Jesus, You are still the Victor; Your triumph over the prince of darkness is accomplished, and humanity has been saved and redeemed by You. You are the Good Shepherd who knows and loves each one of His sheep and would lead them all to safety. Your loving heart is not satisfied with having merited salvation for the whole flock; it ardently desires each sheep to profit by this salvation….O Lord, give us then, this good will; enable us to accept Your gift, Your grace, and grant that Your Passion may not have been in vain.

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Note from Dan: This post on Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion is provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contains one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here: Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.

Art for this post on Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion: The Lord Enters Jerusalem, Andrey N. Mironov, June 2016 own work, CCA-SA 4.0 International, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.

About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio – Resources Edition, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life – Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, and his newest books Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep and Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux. Beyond his “contagious” love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN’s National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN’s Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.


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This article is reprinted with permission from our friends at Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction.

St. Eupsychius, Martyr

Sat, 04/08/2017 - 22:00

Julian the Apostate, arriving in Caesarea on his march to Antioch, was infuriated to find that the majority of the population was Christian. He was further enraged to learn that the Christians had destroyed the last remaining pagan temple in the city, a temple dedicated to Fortune. In his anger, Julian crossed out the name of the city from the list of cities and ordered that it return to being called by its ancient name, Mazaca, rather than the name of Caesarea which had been given to it by Tiberius. He then claimed all the Christian churches in the city and took possession of anything of material value. Many Christians were tortured in order to extract from them the location of some sacred objects. In addition to this, Julian had all the clergy enlisted in the train-bands under the governor of the province. He also imposed heavy taxes on all Christians.

Worst of all, Julian had many Christians put to death. A young man by the name of Eupsychius, from a noble family and a newlywed, was among those sentenced to death. Julian then continued his march, leaving orders in the newly named city of Mazaca that the Christians be compelled to rebuild the temples. Instead of rebuilding the pagan temples, the Christians erected a church to the true God and named it after Eupsychius.

Lessons

Just eight years after the death of Eupsychius, on April 8, Saint Basil celebrated the feast of this martyr and invited all the bishops of Pontus.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, You said that the man who loves his life loses it, while the man who hates his life in this world preserves it to life eternal. We pray that, like Eupsychius, we will stand strong in our faith and remain always loyal to You so we may join You in eternity. Amen.

Other Saints We Remember Today

St. Gaucherius (1140), Abbot

St. Mary of Cleophas (1st Century)

St. Julie Billiart

Fri, 04/07/2017 - 22:00

Julie Billiart was born July 12, 1751, in Picardy, France, the fifth of seven children. She was christened Marie Rose Julia. Julie lived on a farm, but her favorite pastime was pretending to be a teacher and playing school. The school Julie attended was a rural one-room school house. Her favorite subject was religion, taught by the local parish priest. This priest noticed Julie’s great piety and saw that she was special. For that reason, he secretly allowed Julie to make her first communion at age nine. At that time the normal age was thirteen. Julie developed a great love for Jesus in the Eucharist.

When Julie was still a young girl, someone attempted to murder her father. Some believed that this incident so traumatized Julie that she developed a mysterious illness paralyzing her for over twenty years. During the French Revolution Julie hid loyal priests in her home. Because of this, Julie herself became a fugitive. Many times she had to flee to escape discovery in homes where friends were hiding her. During this time Julie had a vision. She saw the Lord crucified and all around Him were religious women dressed in a habit she had never seen. In an inner locution, she was told that these women would be her daughters and that she would start an institute for the Christian education of young girls. In 1803 Julie, along with a few women, began their lives as religious and founded the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Julie’s vision had come true. One year later, Julie was miraculously cured of the paralysis that she had endured for twenty-two years. Then in 1805, Julie and three of her companions took their final vows. Julie was elected as Mother General of the congregation.

Mother Julie Billiart spent the next ten years caring for the poor, nursing the wounded from the Battle of Waterloo, and feeding the hungry. On April 8, 1816, at age 64, she went to be with the Lord.

Lessons

Julie worked hard to expand her Institute and by the time of her death, fifteen convents had been established. Pope Paul VI canonized her in 1969.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, we offer up all our pain and sufferings to You, just as St. Julie did during her long illness. We pray, dear Lord, that You will unite our sufferings with Yours and that through these, many souls are saved. Amen.

The mission of St. Mary’s Parish is to proclaim and celebrate our salvation through Jesus Christ,our pilgrimage to the Father’s Kingdom enlivened by the Holy Spirit. Our Catholic faith community is nourished by our sacramental life, especially the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist. With Mother Mary as our model, we demonstrate our faith through worship, education, vocations and service.