+JMJ+ Welcome! We’re already in the second week of Lent and I’m pausing the Re-Reading the New Age series at least until after Lent and the Easter Season, which means until after Pentecost, and maybe longer. Lent is the time to focus on spiritual practice and true religion. (Re true religion, see the first posts about Scott Hahn’s book, It Is Right and Just, in this series.)
So, now it’s time to announce our 2nd Catholic Book of the Month title. Drum roll, please: Praying with Jesus and Faustina During Lent and in Times of Suffering, by Susan Tassone. (There will be notes and links at the end of this post.)
Susan Tassone has written many books about praying for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, praying the Rosary, and about the Divine Mercy devotion. She was a guest on EWTN Live with Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J., in February. See the video below.
Above: Video, EWTN Live, Feb 18, 2021. “Author Susan Tassone reveals how Catholics can better prepare for Lent by looking towards St. Faustina as an example of holiness. Hosted by Fr. Mitch Pacwa.” A great takeaway from the video:
This is another very important lesson, in particular for our time…as people seek a very good reality called justice, but we that it is without mercy. And mercy is perceived as weakness and there’s a rejection of mercifulness. We first find mercy from God and this makes it possible for us to be merciful. And I don’t think it is an accident that as various forces push God out of our culture, our society becomes increasingly merciless.Fr. Mitch Pacwa on EWTN Live, Feb 18, 2021, at about 11:26 in.
Lent is for Spiritual Combat Training
I just got a copy tonight and I’m looking forward to digging into it. If 2020 has taught me anything, it’s that spiritual combat with our ancient enemy cannot be won without preparation, it can’t even be fought without it. And we can’t prepare or fight without the proper spiritual practice, development, plan (plan, oh, yeah, more about that in another post, it’s something I desperately need), and spiritual weapons. That’s right, spiritual weapons. Our ancient enemy is not flesh and blood, though he often uses humans against other humans. I think it’s his favorite thing to do, watch us destroy ourselves and those around us. Well, this Lent we can work toward defeating him, the Lord can work through us to defeat him through us if we give ourselves over to the way He trains disciples, warriors and soldiers for Christ to engage in the spiritual combat, by embracing the Lenten practices of fasting, praying, and almsgiving, not neglecting our weapons of the Rosary and our devotion to Jesus Who is the Divine Mercy Himself.
It’s Mortification, not Self-Help
And don’t anyone tell you that fasting, giving something up, is old-fashioned you don’t need to do that anymore. They may mean well, but I think it’s misguided advice. I think it’s a worldly mind trying to convince a mind striving for spiritual things, to turn away from striving, trying to coerce (and some will try to actually coerce) you to settle for mediocrity, for spiritual non-development, apathy, acedia. It’s the opposite of what we need to be doing anytime and especially during Lent.
Think about it: if Christ Himself needed to go into the desert for forty days before He began His public ministry, then we need our own time in the desert. And we don’t even have to go seek out a vast wasteland, there’s one all around us already, sans sand for most of us. And He didn’t give us silly things, He gave up food, all kinds of comfort. He walked into the desert with nothing but what He was wearing. He didn’t fast “because it’s healthy” or any of that drivel. He fasted from worldly things to gain strength for spiritual things, to prepare to do battle. We do well to remember what happened at the end of His time in the desert. Try fasting to lose a couple of pounds and then face that and see what happens. We are called to mortify ourselves, our appetites, our pleasure- and comfort-seeking nature. Mortify, to die to oneself. Seriously, read some of the great spiritual masters. Heck, read the Bible. Then get back to me on the “I’m so smart I don’t need to give anything up” spiritual plan, let me know how that works out.
For Times of Suffering
The subtitle says the book is for the time of Lent and also for times of suffering, which makes it pretty much for all the time, but especially for times when suffering is front and center. I know most of us try to avoid suffering, but ultimately, we can’t. But I can tell you this: I never had such an intense time of spiritual experience, learning and growth as the months I spent in a hospital bed, three weeks intubated and nearly flat on my back, and for weeks after that dealing with some serious pain because of being nearly flat on my back for so long. I used to think I had a high tolerance for pain but I cried like a baby then, and that was humiliating.
Until it became humbling. And that is when the spiritual growth aspect kicked into high gear.
…if we embrace opportunities for suffering, whether small or great, we will not regret it in the life to come…Suffering stretches us. It pushes us toward others. It encourages us to pray. It invites us to rely on a number of resources, particularly those from within. We develop character while we handle painful times.Praying with Jesus and Faustina During Lent: and in Times of Suffering, by Susan Tassone, (p. 8). Sophia Institute Press. Kindle Edition.
It can be difficult to love and to trust during times of great pain. But not only do we need to, but we need to not waste it. Do not waste your suffering. This doesn’t mean you have to seek it out, but, really, you will have plenty of suffering in your normal, everyday life. Don’t waste that suffering. Let it be a time of growing in patience, in wisdom, in loving acceptance of the Will of God (that doesn’t mean neglecting or refusing medical help if you need it), and in trustful surrender to His Divine Providence.
Jesus, I want to unite my suffering to Your Redemptive Suffering. Let me always be united to You, and ever more deeply so. Jesus, King of Mercy, I trust in You.
Thank you for visiting and reading. I hope you’ll join me again. Until next time, whoever and wherever you are, stay safe and well, virtuous and holy, and focused on the Lenten spiritual practices of fasting, praying and giving alms, and become who you were meant to be: a saint! May the Lord bless and keep you and yours, and may His Peace and His Mercy be always with you. +JMJ+
Notes and Links
- Praying with Jesus and Faustina During Lent and in Times of Suffering, by Susan Tassone. Paperback, Kindle (Amazon affiliate links, see Full Disclosure below for more).
- Video: EWTN Live, Feb 18, 2021, Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ, with Susan Tassone.
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