A prayer book for the conversion of sinners

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Low Sunday, the Sunday after Easter, is now also Divine Mercy Sunday. Following the revelations of Jesus to the Polish nun, St Faustina, Susan Tassone, an indefatigable writer on devotion to the Holy Souls, has written a St Faustina Prayer Book for the Conversion of Sinners.

In his foreword to Tassone’s book, Fr Andrew Apostoli CFR reminds us that St Monica prayed night and day for sixteen years for the conversion of her son, adding that although her example can be “intimidating”, whether we are praying for a needy sinner, for someone about to die or for someone who has drifted or stormed away from the Church, what is required is simply that we pray: “We can have confidence that Jesus in His Divine Mercy will hear our prayers and apply them to whom He wishes.”

The author’s book, a mere 140 pages, is full of good, traditional Catholic teaching. It covers just about everything: the meaning of conversion, penance, the Holy Spirit, intercession and prayers for conversion to and by the saints. There are litanies, devotions and many extracts from St Faustina’s own diaries; we are reminded that devotion to the Divine Mercy was a favourite theme of St John Paul II.

Quotations from the saints, such as St Bernard of Clairvaux’s comment to his community that “there are more people converted from mortal sin to grace than there are religious converted from good to better” spell out to us that going to Mass each week, or even every day, doesn’t absolve us from the need of continual conversion.

And as Tassone emphasises, the “radical reorientation” of our whole life always starts at home and learning to be “more charitable – kind, forgiving, patient and all the rest – to those closest to us.”

It is always so much easier to give money to a cause, to support good works outside the home, or to persuade ourselves that “virtue signalling” is the same as virtue, than to practise the necessary but unnoticed and unrecorded acts of self-sacrifice that domestic life constantly puts in our path.

The appendices include a very useful examination of conscience based on the Seven Deadly Sins, as well as a very heartening conversion story by a priest who started to repeat a short prayer that Our Lord had given to St Faustina for the conversion of his own father before his ordination:

“O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of Mercy for us, I trust in You.”

Jesus promised her that “When you say this prayer, with a contrite heart and with faith on behalf of some sinner, I will give him the grace of conversion.”

It sounds too good to be true – except that faith tells us that it is true.