Father Landry Assesses Holy Habits for a Saintly Life
BOOK PICK: Plan of Life: Habits to Help You Grow Closer to God
Plan of Life
Habits to Help You Grow Closer to God
By Father Roger Landry
Pauline Books & Media, 2018
176 pages, $13.95
To order: store.pauline.org
Father Roger Landry is the very definition of a busy man. He works in the Vatican’s Mission to the United Nations, offers retreats all over the country, says Mass daily for the Sisters of Life in Manhattan, and writes steadily for several Catholic publications.
When someone that busy sets out to write a book, you can bet that it will be crisp, engaging and to-the-point. Father Landry’s Plan of Life: Habits to Help You Grow Closer to God is all that, as well as warm and erudite, at once a very practical playbook for a better spiritual life and an inspiring stream of observations in the words of the saints about how saints structured their own plans of life.
Father Landry’s purpose, as he explains it in the book’s opening chapter, is to ensure his readers don’t go to their deathbeds wishing they had grown closer to God before the end of their days. We are born for “no other reason than to be a saint,” in the words of St. John of the Cross, and to do so, Father Landy asserts, “There’s got to be a plan. It’s got to be a good plan. And you have to stick to that plan.”
The ultimate aim of that plan is to be like St. Paul, who could write to the Galatians after his odyssey of prayer, evangelization and suffering, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” That is the tallest order, and Father Landry completely understands that we’re all humble pilgrims, so he counsels readers to take one step at a time to build our personal “Plan of Life” and call on the grace of the Holy Spirit to help us find the words, thoughts and discipline to do so.
Father Landry starts with the simplest of things, the “Heroic Moment,” which is getting out of bed and starting your day with God through the Morning Offering. One of the delights in Plan of Life is Father Landry’s way of presenting the elements of a plan, whether it’s the Morning Offering, the general examen or regular prayer during the day. He explains each element’s significance, often in the words of the saints, and relates the prayers and practices of towering figures like St. John Paul the Great, St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Bernard of Clairvaux, among many others. Father Landry reveals his favorites and encourages readers to choose or devise their own. The possibilities are many, from simply saying serviam (“I serve”) to inspirations like St. Mechtilde’s vision, in which Christ said to her, “When you awaken in the morning, let your first act be to salute my heart and offer me your own.”
I was eager to pick up Plan of Life over each of the days I read it, and I marked various passages throughout. I am a lifelong Catholic, but I can report that my own “Plan of Life” is not what it should be. And thanks to Father Landry, I now have a practical and inspiring game plan to make it better. This is a book I will return to many times in the years ahead.
Edward “Ned” Desmond is chief operating officer
of TechCrunch and formerly wrote for Time and Fortune.