+JMJ+ Welcome! It’s time for part 2 of our second Catholic Book of the Month, Praying with Jesus and Faustina During Lent and in Times of Suffering, by Susan Tassone. (Seems to me we could have used this book for the whole year of 2020, right on up to the current Lenten season and, undoubtedly, it will be useful for the rest of the year and well beyond.) There will be notes and links at the end of this post.
Video, EWTN Bookmark – 2021-02-21 – Doug Keck interviews author Susan Tassone about her book, Praying with Jesus and Faustina During Lent and in Times of Suffering.
A good point to remember about Christianity—and a point a lot of Christians seem to misunderstand and misrepresent to others, too—is that Christ did take our sufferings upon Himself, but not so that we would not suffer. We’re talking about Christianity here, not Buddhism. Even the Buddha didn’t teach that suffering could be avoided, but that one could reach a state where neither suffering nor pleasure would toss one about, where one would not be at the mercy of events or circumstances or one’s passions.
Christianity sees some good in this. Mortification is a good thing, self-control, temperance, the virtues, are all good. But Christianity goes on to recognize that our sufferings can be united to Christ’s and then they become redemptive. Why? Because Christ’s Sufferings—and His alone—are Redemptive in themselves because He is the Redeemer, He is Divine, and He makes an Offering to the Lord that we cannot make except through Him. We can make offerings, yes, but when united to His, He allows us to participate in His Redemptive action, which far transcends anything we can do on our own. We are not God, after all.
When we cry, Abba! Father!” it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.Rom 8:15-17 RSV2CE, emphasis added.
I’m not a theologian or even a catechist, but I hope I’m putting this in a way that makes sense. I’ve worked to make it as free from error as I can.
If the angels were capable of envy they would envy us humans for two things: one is the privilege to receive Holy Communion; and the other is, suffering. (1804)From the Diary of St. Faustina, Divine Mercy In My Soul, by St. Faustina, quoted in Praying with Jesus and Faustina During Lent: and in Times of Suffering, by Susan Tassone, (p. 8). Sophia Institute Press. Kindle Edition.
I’m reminded of a lot of the New Age versions of Christ I’ve encountered over the years. They almost invariably get suffering wrong. I can’t actually think of any New Age teachings that get it right. They see it as something to be avoided at all costs, as if it wee the greatest evil there could possibly be. A Course In Miracles, and other distortions like it, teach that suffering does not really exist. And that reminds me of the Christian Science teachings that the ACIM author had heard so many times as a child from her mother. ACIM goes so far as to say that sin itself does not really exist, but Christians know that sin not only exists but is an evil and can be a great evil.
If we deny the suffering Jesus, we deny God.Ibid., quoting Bishop Joseph Perry from his Foreword, 8.
Those New Age and New Thought teachings about Christ and suffering are seriously distorted and because distorted, dangerous, because they teach a false view of reality, both physical and spiritual, and entirely too many people hear these things or read them and don’t know that they are distortions but think they are actual and legitimate teachings of Christianity from legitimate forms of Christianity.
If you want to know what Christianity really teaches about Christ, His Redemptive Suffering, and the way to union with Him and participation in Redemption with Him, reading St. Faustina’s Diary is like taking a crash course in all of this. It blew my mind when I discovered it. And reading what Susan says about her discovery of the Diary tells me that our experience of that discovery was very similar. I’ve been reading it off and on now for nearly the whole time I’ve been Catholic, and at this coming Easter Vigil that will be twenty-five years. And I think I began reading it before I was officially received, so I’ve been reading it a little longer than that. There is so much in the Divine Mercy diary that I could read it for the rest of my life and feel like I had only scratched the surface of it.
Susan Tassone has now published eight books focusing on the Holy Souls, and now six books on the Divine Mercy (with one of them also focusing on the Holy Souls, so that actually makes nine books on the Holy Souls). If you have read her work before you know she knows her stuff and she has an easy to read way of writing, she believes in what she’s saying, and she lives the Faith.
If you haven’t read anything about the Divine Mercy devotion yet, Tassone’s work is a good place to begin. And I do recommend that you do begin somewhere. The spiritual wisdom of St. Faustina is stunning. I hope one day she is made a Doctor of the Church. That’s how important I think her spirituality is. It’s about knowledge, yes, but it’s even more about living the Faith. Praying with Jesus and Faustina will help us put the knowledge we have already, and will gain from reading it, into practice, leading us to a deeper union with Christ. And that is what it’s really all about. An ever deeper union with the Living Christ.
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 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 Bookmark for 02-21-2021: Praying with Jesus and Faustina During Lent and in Times of Suffering, with author Susan Tassone.
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