A Short Road to Perfection

September 27, 1856 John Henry Newman

{285} IT is the saying of holy men that, if we wish to be perfect, we have nothing more to do than to perform the ordinary duties of the day well. A short road to perfection—short, not because easy, but because pertinent and intelligible. There are no short ways to perfection, but there are sure ones.

I think this is an instruction which may be of great practical use to persons like ourselves. It is easy to have vague ideas what perfection is, which serve well enough to talk about, when we do not intend to aim at it; but as soon as a person really desires and sets about seeking it himself, he is dissatisfied with anything but what is tangible and clear, and constitutes some sort of direction towards the practice of it.

We must bear in mind what is meant by perfection. It does not mean any extraordinary service, anything out of the way, or especially heroic—not all have the opportunity of heroic acts, of sufferings—but it means what the word perfection ordinarily means. By perfect we mean that which has no flaw in it, that which is complete, that which is consistent, that which is sound—we mean the opposite to imperfect. As we know well what imperfection in {286} religious service means, we know by the contrast what is meant by perfection.

He, then, is perfect who does the work of the day perfectly, and we need not go beyond this to seek for perfection. You need not go out of the round of the day.

I insist on this because I think it will simplify our views, and fix our exertions on a definite aim. If you ask me what you are to do in order to be perfect, I say, first—Do not lie in bed beyond the due time of rising; give your first thoughts to God; make a good visit to the Blessed Sacrament; say the Angelus devoutly; eat and drink to God’s glory; say the Rosary well; be recollected; keep out bad thoughts; make your evening meditation well; examine yourself daily; go to bed in good time, and you are already perfect.

On the Way to Heaven

I like to think it’s all about transformation here or hereafter that is if we choose by our lives to love God. Here is a homily given on All Souls Day-2014 by  Fr. Michael DePalma
“-Padre Pio had many incredible, mystical gifts.  One such was the gift of being able to witness many souls in Purgatory who came to visit him during the course of a typical day.  Often they would just be there, asking him to pray for their intercession. Other Franciscan priests have verified this, because on occasion they themselves were also able to see the person who had come to visit Padre Pio.
-But on one occasion Padre Pio was in the choir loft after the church was locked saying his prayers when he heard what sounded like a candlestick falling.  He looked down from the loft and saw a Friar moving around the altar.  So he shouted down to him asking who he was and what was he doing there. The friar said that he was visiting.  Padre Pio came down the stairs and asked which monastery he was from.  The friar said, “This one.”  Padre Pio replied, “How could that be, I’ve been here for years and I have never seen you.”  The friar said, “I was here 100 years ago.  I was the sacristan.” It was then that Padre Pio noticed that the friar had been dusting the candlesticks on the altar.
-And the friar at the altar turned to Padre Pio and said that he was sent from Purgatory for he had been there 100 years and no one had ever prayed for him. He was requesting Padre’s prayers. Padre Pio asked the friar what did he do to merit Purgatory and the friar answered that when he was saying Mass, and when he was performing his duties as sacristan, he wasn’t always reverent to the Holy Eucharist.  He was very sloppy, especially around the altar.  The next morning Padre Pio said Mass for the intention of this friar, and he was able to mystically see this poor soul from Purgatory enter into heaven itself.
– “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.”  Only the pure get to go to heaven.  That is why so many saints and theologians have said over the centuries that for those who will avoid going to hell, the majority of people will have to go through Purgatory first, before receiving the great reward of heaven.
-Though it sounds a bit cheesy, it is still true:  heaven is for people who are dying to get there.  And anything that gets in the way of us getting to our eternal home has to go, has to be removed—we have to die to ourselves.
-But most of us are not at that point yet.  We are still too attached to our ways:  to our hatred and anger, to our gossiping, to our lustfulness, to our overindulgences, to our selfish thoughts.
We need purification.  We need Purgatory.
-However, belief in Purgatory has declined in modern times because the modern mind has forgotten two extremely important things:  the purity of God, and the horror of sin.
-Because so many people today are used to getting away with so much that they should not be doing, we have to admit that our teachers, our bosses, our husbands or wives, our mothers or fathers would be amazed to know all of the stuff that we do behind their backs.  And we just continue with that attitude, going so far as to think that even God is not aware of what we are doing, or if He is, no worries, He will just let us slide. Continue reading