I was called on to sing at a funeral Mass one day this past summer, and after I read the obituary it became clear that the death was due to addiction. Sadly, this is not the first in that family to die in this way. These are not people I know, but they live in my neighborhood.
On the night before the funeral, I woke up suddenly in the middle of the night and that was on my mind. I couldn’t go back to sleep because I kept thinking about it, so I decided to pray a Rosary. On the bedside table, I had a knotted-twine Rosary made for me by a friend.
I dedicated that Rosary for the repose of the soul of that recently deceased young man.
As soon as I finished the whole Rosary, I went right off to sleep. I guess I was not being let off the hook — I needed to pray for him right that minute.
In the morning before the funeral, I got in touch with the friend who had made that Rosary for me, and asked her to pray too.
An urgent impulse to pray for a soul who has clearly struggled in life is not something we should ignore. And who better to intercede for such a soul than the Blessed Mother — our Mother?
As we commemorate the holy souls this month, let’s remember them in our prayers, especially in the Rosary.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Scared straight: but with Purgatory.
The story above reminds me of Theresa Linden’s novel, Tortured Soul, a compelling tale of a haunting — with a twist. Jeannie Lyons is pushed out of her family’s home by her older brother and into a remote cottage that also houses a gruesome “presence.” Afraid to be at home, but with nowhere else to go, Jeannie enlists the help of the sort-of-creepy guy her brother had once pushed her to date. This edge-of-the-seat story of guilt and forgiveness emphasizes the importance of praying for the souls of the deceased — and would make a great movie.
Tortured Soulreminded me deeply that the deceased need our prayers — not only our deceased loved ones and friends, but in particular those who have no one to pray for them. Maybe they were alienated from family during their lives, as depicted in Linden’s novel; maybe their loved ones don’t pray. But we can, and we should.
Copyright 2020 Barb Szyszkiewicz This post contains Amazon affiliate links. I was provided a free review copy of Susan Tassone’s book, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.
There’s a lot more to the spiritual legacy of St. Faustina Kowalska besides the popular Divine Mercy chaplet. But for a long time I’d shied away from reading her writing, figuring that it would be complicated and intimidating. Aside from quotes in other spiritual books, I haven’t read her Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul.
Susan Tassone, well-known for her other writing on Purgatory, Adoration, and Divine Mercy, has taken St. Faustina’s Diary and made it accessible in a new daily devotional from Sophia Institute Press. Day by Day with Saint Faustina: 365 Reflections is a page-per-day devotional that bridges the gap between the spiritual and the practical.
While the monthly sections of the book are not organized by theme, Susan’s choice of readings for each day of the year are often informed by the liturgical calendar. Each day’s reflection is made up of three parts: a quote from the Diary, a short reflection (just a few sentences) that’s instructional and also a call to action or sometimes a quote from Scripture, and a simple prayer to wrap it up.
The simplicity of Susan’s writing is an excellent foil to the more formal style characteristic of St. Faustina. Susan has the ability to get to the heart of the message in each selection and frame it in language that inspires, edifies, and motivates. For example, here’s the closing prayer for Sunday, July 21’s reflection:
Thank you, Lord, that I don’t have to understand Your peace in order to receive it.
Jesus, I trust in You.
Why are we talking about a daily devotional in the middle of the year? Why not? You can start praying with this devotional anytime you like (that’s what bookmarks are for!), so there’s no need to feel that you must wait until January to add Day by Day with Saint Faustina to your daily prayer time.
Copyright 2019 Barb Szyszkiewicz
This post contains Amazon affiliate links. I was given a free review copy of this book, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.
The first Wednesday of each month, Carolyn Astfalk hosts #OpenBook, where bloggers link posts about books they’ve read recently. Here’s a taste of what I’ve been reading:
In the Light of the Garden by Heather Burch. Set on an island on Florida’s Gulf Coast, family secrets come to the fore when Charity Baxter inherits her grandfather’s estate and moves to the island to continue his work making custom pottery. Her return to the island reawakens a twenty-year-old burden of guilt about the death of her grandmother. Charity’s neighbor Dalton battles heartbreak of his own, and the meaning of family and the destructive power of long-held secrets are revealed. An excellent story.
Dancing with Fireflies by Denise Hunter. I couldn’t even tell this book was the second in a series — it’s that well done. Pregnant after date rape, Jade returns to the hometown she’d hoped to leave behind, but she doesn’t feel she can trust her family or neighbors with her secret. Complicating matters is the town’s mayor, a young man who always had a crush on Jade, and whose love she doesn’t feel she’s worthy of.
Love’s Vow by Melissa Storm. This novella concludes the story of Summer and Ben’s whirlwind romance. When all the little things and some of the big things go wrong as their wedding day approaches, Summer and Ben will need the help of the whole town if they want to get married. I enjoyed reading more about the characters in the “First Street Church” series, including the Kindle Worlds series written by other authors about the same small town.
Something Like Family by Heather Burch. Abandoned as a teenager by his drug-addicted mother, Rave finds himself entangled with an adrift single mom because he doesn’t want the same thing to happen to her son. When he’s notified that the grandfather he thought was dead is very much alive and wants to meet him, Rave returns to his mother’s home town to seek the family ties he never had — but that little boy is never far from his thoughts. A beautiful story of family, community and devotion.
Black Narcissus by Rumer Godden. When an order of Sisters is given an estate on a mountain in the Himalayas in order to build a school and medical clinic, they must battle temptations of all kinds as they struggle to survive in a new culture and climate. This was a really disturbing story, but that didn’t come without warning. It was noted right at the beginning the the location would be enough to unsettle anyone.
Playing by Heart by Carmela Martino. Set in 18th-century Milan, Playing by Heart is a symphony of romance and faith with an undercurrent of social commentary. Will Maria and Emilia’s father sacrifice their futures on the altar of his own ambitions to join the noble class? Carmela Martino’s new novel for teen readers explores family ties, vocations, and discernment of the best ways to use God-given gifts. Cue up some Vivaldi or Pachelbel and settle in for an intriguing tale. Read my full review. (ARC provided by author)
Standing Strong by Theresa Linden. Continuing the series she began with Roland West, Loner and continued with two more novels, Linden’s next novel about the West brothers centers on Roland’s two older brothers, who are twins but as opposite as can be. While Jarret works to figure out how to move forward after a life-changing experience (described in Battle for His Soul, which you really need to read before you read this), his twin has a struggle of his own as he discerns whether to join the Franciscan brothers. It’s not easy to reinvent yourself while you’re still in high school, as Jarret West discovers as he seeks a way to turn his life around after an intense spiritual experience. His twin brother couldn’t be more different: Keefe contemplates joining the Franciscan friars. Theresa Linden recounts twin spiritual quests in her newest novel. (ARC provided by author)
Super Girls and Halos by Maria Morera Johnson (Ave Maria Press). I love that Maria Morera Johnson began her new book, Super Girls and Halos (Ave Maria Press, 2017), with a quote from the only superhero movie I ever liked: The Incredibles. Mrs. Incredible is probably the first “supergirl” I could relate to. She’s a mom. She worries about her family. She’s the most real superhero I’ve encountered. Maria found a way to show the human side of superheros and saints without diluting their extraordinary virtues. Read my interview with the author. (ARC provided by publisher)
Ignite: Read the Bible like Never Before by Sonja Corbitt and Deacon Harold Burke-Silvers (Servant Books). This book challenges both individuals and groups to try reading the Bible. Acknowledging that many faithful people try reading the Bible but are daunted by dry and difficult readings and commentaries, Sonja and Deacon Harold share some strategies that work for them, setting up a Lectio-Divina-based study structure that can include technological resources such as Bible apps, online daily readings, and print or audio resources. Read my full review. (ARC provided by publisher)
The essence of Divine Mercy is twofold. First, to totally trust in Christ’s mercy. And second, to show mercy to others, acting as a vessel of God’s mercy. (24-25)
Peppered with prayers from the saints, Bible quotes and instructions on Catholic teachings such as fasting and the spiritual works of mercy, Tassone’s books are not necessarily designed to be read straight through. I recommend using colorful flags to mark your favorite spots or hold your place in a novena. There are prayers you’ll find yourself returning to again and again. If you’re new to the Divine Mercy Chaplet, you’ll find instructions for this beautiful prayer practice in both books.
Time and again, you sin. Time and again, I sin. Time and again, Jesus calls each of us to turn, to return, to our Heavenly Father and do His will. (19)
Whenever you have a few minutes, you can read one of the short essays in these books and then conclude with one of the many prayers. These small-format books fit easily in a handbag or briefcase and are perfect to take to Adoration.
Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz
This post contains Amazon affiliate links; your purchase through these links helps support this blog. Thank you! I was given free review copies of these books, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.