“I saw my Guardian Angel, who ordered me to follow him.
In a moment I was in a misty place full of fire in which there was a great crowd of suffering souls.” St. Faustina (Diary, 20)
It is rare that an author is blessed by a pope, but Susan Tassone was twice blessed by Saint John Paul II for her work bringing to the world a new interest and understanding of the Church’s powerful devotions to the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Often referred to as the “Purgatory Lady,” Susan is a popular speaker and a frequent guest on Catholic TV and radio.
I interviewed Susan about her latest, best-selling devotional, Day by Day for the Holy Souls: 365 Reflections, which has hit the top of not one but three major charts! It is the #1 Best Seller at Our Sunday Visitor, EWTN’s #1 Best Selling book for 2014, and was #1 in “spirituality” and “meditations” on Amazon.com. Over 13,000 of these books have already been sold since it’s October release.
I’ll be GIVING AWAY three copies on Valentine’s Day to three of our weekly newsletter subscribers at AmazingCatechists.com!
(Details at the end of this post!)
Me: Susan, thanks for talking with me about this amazing new resource, which is packed with the extraordinary and, honestly, quite thrilling writings of saints, mystics, doctors of the Church, philosophers and great spiritual writers. Why don’t you start by telling us what this book is about.
Susan: Day By Day for the Holy Souls in Purgatory: 365 Reflections provides all of the biblical references to purgatory; meditations written by the greatest thinkers, writers and theologians; as well as reflections and prayers that explain and illuminate the Church’s understanding of purgatory and the Holy Souls.
Me: Susan, you are a recognized expert on this topic and the owner of many rare books about purgatory. How did you make these ancient teachings accessible to the modern reader?
Susan: I took these eloquent writings and pulled out the gems, to make it easy for readers to enjoy them, day by day. However, you can use this book however you like: as a daily devotional, as a year-round “novena” (to follow the seasons), or just pick it up and read it as the Spirit leads you.
Me: What do the writers of these beautiful meditations have in common?
Susan: I learned that there are three key points everyone agrees to:
- The fire that is described by the saints is a positive fire, a burning love for God. I call it GOD FIRE.
- Another concept everyone agrees to is that the holy souls need our prayers, especially in this priority: The Mass, Rosary, Stations of the Cross, and Eucharistic Adoration. There are indulgences that are attached to these means that we can apply to the holy souls. I call them the Pillars of Devotion.
- When someone has died, we feel grief and sorrow. We want to do something for them. With this collection of prayers and meditations, we have the perfect means: 365 ways to show our love for the Holy Souls. The Holy Souls are most concerned about our salvation. We discuss this extensively in the book. They also repay us a hundredfold, when we pray and make offerings for them.
Here is a meditation from February 23-One Thousand Favors:
“Though the Holy Souls cannot merit for themselves, they can obtain for us great graces. Through the sweet providence of God, they can obtain for us outstanding favors, and deliver us from evils, sickness and dangers of every kind”–St. Alphonsus Liguori
Me: Classic art images of the suffering souls can be pretty disturbing. Can you tell us about the fire of purgatory?
Susan: We examined the “fire of purgatory” from the point of view of both the philosophers and the saints, and they agree that it is not the physical fire as we know. It is a “spiritual fever,” a longing for God, as the holy souls explained to St. Faustina. Their hunger, their thirst, their famine, their drought is for God. It is a “heartsickness” for God. This is the essence of purgatory. The saints explain it very well in our book.
Here is a meditation from June 22–Wounds of Love:
Love can sometimes produce effects in the human breast that recall those of material fire. We read this in the lives of certain saints. The Holy Spirit comes to them as a wellspring of intolerable love, as a consuming fire, as a love wound of death and life. St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi was heard to cry, “O Love, you cause me to consume and melt. You cause me to die and yet to live.”
St. Faustina said, “I feel some kind of fire in my heart…An extraordinary suffering pervades my soul together with a joy I cannot compare to anything (Diary, 432).”
Blessed Mary of Providence shared, “Today I feel as though my hands were on fire. I am burning! … My God, I burn with love for You! I feel within me an inconceivable hunger and thirst for God.”
Me: What role does Our Lady play with the souls in purgatory?
Susan: Our Lady is the most powerful intercessor for the souls in purgatory! Throughout the whole book, we see her interceding and offering our prayers to God unceasingly. She embellishes our prayers.
Here is a meditation from May 31st –Best Safeguard–Devotion to Our Lady:
Devote and consecrate yourself entirely to Mary [Our Lady]. Make her a present of Masses, Communions, fasts; imitate her glorious virtues. If you do these things you need not fear purgatory. She will obtain for you such a measure of true contrition and conformity to God’s will, so much patience in your last sickness, such holy and ardent desire to serve God, such profound humility as to blot out of our of our souls what purgatory was to have done, and purify you in a present capacity to go directly into heaven and if an extraordinary pass should be necessary, who can better procure it in you than the Lady of the House, the Mother of the Judge, the Empress of Paradise, the Queen of the Universe? –Eitenne Binet, S.J., French author.
Me: Do the Angels play a role in assisting the holy souls in purgatory?
Susan: Absolutely. We include numerous meditations from the Saints who confirm the Guardian Angels’ devotion to souls in purgatory. The angels console the holy souls. They inspire their friends and relatives to offer a Mass and practice good deeds for a speedy delivery from purgatory. The angels inform the holy souls who are assisting them and to pray for those who help them. The angels escort the soul to heaven with the speed of lightning.
We need to have a great devotion to our Guardian Angels. Ask their help to purify your soul here on earth. Their charge is to get you home to heaven. The Guardian Angels are intent on obtaining all the graces and favors from God for your eternal welfare. St. Faustina’s writings confirm this, too. We include all her purgatory passages in our book.
Here is a meditation from March 2–Souls’ Greatest Torment:
“…[The next night] I saw my Guardian Angel, who ordered me to follow him. In a moment I was in a misty place full of fire in which there was a great crowd of suffering souls. They were praying fervently, but to no avail, for themselves; only we can come to their aid. The flames which were burning them did not touch me at all. My Guardian Angel did not leave me for an instant. I asked these souls what their greatest torment was. They answered me in one voice that their greatest torment was longing for God. I saw Our Lady visiting the souls in purgatory. The souls call her ‘The Star of the Sea.’ She brings them refreshment. I wanted to talk with them some more, but my Guardian Angel beckoned me to leave. We went out of that prison of suffering. [I heard an interior voice] which said, My mercy does not want this, but justice demands it. Since that time, I am in closer communion with the suffering souls”–St. Faustina (Diary, 20).
Me: Susan, so many of our families have been touched by the tragedy of suicide. What would you say to those who have lost a loved one in this way?
Susan: Suicide often tears families apart. If someone you love commits suicide, you will have a wide range of feelings. It is normal to be angry, sad, down, scared. Don’t be afraid or ashamed for what you feel. We wrongly blame ourselves for the suicide. If only I did this or noticed that … People commit suicide for many reasons, most commonly due to mental health issues that are not their fault. The worst thing we can do is blame ourselves and be ashamed.
Day By Day for the Holy Souls in Purgatory will help you. It has the right kind of reflections and prayers for a wide variety of feelings. It helps to console our hearts. We can help the deceased person’s soul to move on through our Masses, especially Gregorian Masses, which we can offer for the suffering soul.
Me: What are Gregorian Masses?
Susan: The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the highest act of worship, the highest form of prayer, and the most efficacious means to help the souls in purgatory. Gregorian Masses are a series of 30 Holy Masses celebrated on thirty consecutive days for the repose of the soul of one departed person. Gregorian Masses derive their name from St. Gregory the Great, who was the first to popularize this practice.
It is related in the Dialogues of St. Gregory that the soul of a departed Monk appeared and declared that he had been delivered from purgatory upon the completion of thirty Masses. The Sacred Congregation of Indulgences has declared the tradition to be a “pious and reasonable belief of the faith.” Put these Masses in your wills! The Masses are offered in Mission lands, where our Catholic missionaries are in desperate situations. They are greatly supported by our Mass stipends.
The Pious Union of St. Joseph can arrange these Masses. Send requests and donations to The Pious Union of St. Joseph, 953 East Michigan Avenue, Grass Lake, Michigan, 49240 or Visit: www.piousunionofstjoseph.org
Offer Masses for yourselves as well. Enroll your family in the Pious Union of St. Joseph Perpetual Enrollment. The Holy Cloak Novena is also a powerful novena. Extraordinary graces are granted under the protection of St. Joseph!
Me: What have you learned through writing this book?
Susan: The more I learn about purgatory the more I come to realize this God-given gift isn’t about punishment. It’s about love. God is not trying to “get even” with people nor is it a way of lowering the boom. Out of his mercy and love he is preparing His unprepared children to be with Him face to face for all eternity.
Purgatory is a beautiful sign of God’s infinite love.
Me: How does your book affect the events of the world today?
Susan: As you use this book to release the holy souls in purgatory, keep in mind that the holy souls are part of the Mystical Body of Christ. “Team Purgatory” is building up the heavenly kingdom!
As our prayers release the holy souls, we gain “fresh intercessors” to build up the Church Triumphant. When that teams unites, there will be an explosion of intercessory prayer that will change the world, a world that yearns for peace.
May our world be as it is described in Isaiah 11:6, a place where the lion will lie down with the Lamb.
#GIVEAWAY ALERT: To be entered to win one of three copies of Susan’s very special new book, go to AmazingCatechists.com and REGISTER for our weekly newsletter at the home page. Just enter your name and email address. It’s that easy!* If you are already registered, you are already entered to win!
[*For winners outside the U.S., please be prepared to supply a mailing address in the United States, since, regrettably, AmazingCatechists.com cannot afford overseas postage, at this time.]