A SHORT ROAD TO PERFECTION

September 27, 1856

 

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 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 (course) of the [average] 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.


"An-ge-lus also an-ge-lus (^n2jú-lús) n. Roman Catholic Church 1. A devotional prayer at morning, noon, and night to commemorate the Annunciation. 2. A bell rung as a call to recite this prayer. [ Medieval Latin from Late Latin angel, first word of the devotion; See angel.]" American Heritage Dictionary.

 

"The Angel of the Lord (the Angelus)

V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary,

R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

[Then say:] Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

 

v. Behold the handmaid of the Lord,

R. Be it done unto me according to your word.

[Then say:] Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

 

V. And the Word was made flesh,

R. And dwelt among us.

[Then say:] Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.
Pour forth, we beg you, O Lord,
your grace into our hearts:
that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son
was made known by the message of an Angel,
may by his Passion and Cross
be brought to the glory of his Resurrection.
Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen. "

For information on the "Hail Mary" and other traditional catholic prayers, click here, and the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia article... There is a long index of places where Mary is discussed in the Catholic Catechism. For one such discussion see Mary's role with regard to the Church. See also Bible passages on Mary, and our short catechism reference on the "Hail Mary".

 


The prayer Angel of the Lord, the Angelus, is taken from the New St. Joseph People's Prayer Book, Catholic Book Publishing (1980) pp. 278-9. It is quoted here for religious and educational purposes only.

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