St. John Henry Newman gave a practical way to heaven through his “short road to perfection.” He was a famous English convert to Catholicism in the 1800s. As a professor at Oxford, he had great influence on the minds of the English people. His homilies always showed his deep connection with both God and his flock. He was canonized on October 13th, 2019.
Newman outlined a handful of simple steps to perfection.
How is it possible for a “short road to perfection” exist?
Well, it’s important to define what “perfect” means. As Newman explains, perfection does not necessarily mean extraordinary acts. It means doing the ordinary tasks and duties of life well.
Here is St. John Henry Newman’s short road to perfection:
Do not lie in bed beyond the due time of rising
Waking up is the first moment of the day and we are left with a choice: will we succumb to our comfort and sleep in or will we get out of bed and get moving?
St. Josemaría Escrivá writes:
“Conquer yourself each day from the very first moment, getting up on the dot, at a fixed time, without yielding a single minute to laziness.
If, with God’s help, you conquer yourself, you will be well ahead for the rest of the day.
It’s so discouraging to find oneself beaten at the first skirmish!”
We have to wake up every morning. Waking up when we should is a great way to start your short road to perfection.
Give your first thoughts to God
After you’ve overcome waking up, why not think of God as you get your brain working again? We may not be able to think about God for every minute of the day, but we can at least give Him the first minute.
Make a good visit to the Blessed Sacrament
Jesus Christ is fully present in the Eucharist in all the tabernacles of the world. If possible, scheduling even a short period of your day to be present with Jesus will elevate your entire day.
Cardinal Newman leaves the definition of a “good” visit up to us. Pray to God about when and for how much time you should visit Jesus each day. Give Him your adoration, praise, thanksgiving, contrition, and supplication. Don’t try to take on your daily struggles and victories without God.
Say the Angelus devoutly
The Angelus prayer is a famous Catholic devotion, traditionally said 3 times each day: at dawn, noon, and dusk. It recounts the message from the angel Gabriel to Mary announcing God’s plan for her life. Praying at specific times of the day helps bring our attention back to God even during a busy day.
Eat and drink to God’s glory
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.”
1 Corinthians 10:31
Of course, we should do everything for the glory of God. It’s so easy to focus on ourselves instead. Fortunately, a great entry into glorifying God in all things is through food – we all have to eat!
To eat and drink without a thought about God makes us live automatically: like animals. A great way to bring Christ into our food is to always give thanks before eating. You can even say a prayer after the meal!
We should also remember why we eat and drink: to nourish our bodies so that we can continue to love God and our neighbors well!
Say the Rosary well
The rosary is one of the most powerful prayers we can pray, after the Mass itself. Through it, we ask for Mary’s intercession.
“Never will anyone who says his Rosary every day be led astray. This is a statement that I would gladly sign with my blood.”
St. Louis de Montfort
At its core, the rosary involves meditating on the life of Christ. For example, when we ponder His Passion or His Resurrection, something completely new can strike us. Asking for Mary’s intercession is a classic way to stay close to her Son.
Have you ever driven many miles and all of a sudden consciously realized it hours later? It’s natural for our minds to go on autopilot throughout the day, but we have to try our best to continually analyze how our soul is doing.
Are our intentions pure? Are we acting for ourselves or for God and our neighbor? Are we focusing and working hard on our current duty? Are we even working on what we should be working on? These simple reflection questions will keep us on track all day.
Keep out bad thoughts
Pairing well with recollection, we need to be mindful of where our thoughts go. Are we wishing evil on our neighbor? Are focused on ourselves or on the well-being of others? When temptation strikes, do we attempt to push it away or do we let it linger?
It’s always easiest to eliminate a possible sin at the first bad thought.
Make your evening meditation well
The evening meditation is a classic devotion where we take a passage of Scripture or spiritual writing and spend time wrestling with it. This is often a great way to integrate the Bible into your daily prayer routine and to bring inspiring thoughts at a tiring time of the day.
Just as the day was began with good thoughts, so too should we conclude it with pondering God’s goodness.
Examine yourself daily
You don’t need to be Christian to realize how important it is the reflect on your day. The Greek philosopher Socrates said:
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Calmly examining our daily thoughts and actions is the first step in improving. Choosing a resolution for the next day is a great first step. After years of examination, you will grow more and more close to God.
Go to bed in good time
Don’t setup the next day for failure! Be sure to try your best to get enough sleep. Keeping a healthy, ordered schedule from beginning to end will help you go on a streak of good days. Repeat this process and become a saint!