Book Review: Blessed Carlo Acutis – 5 Steps to Being a Saint by Mgr. Anthony Figueiredo

On Saturday October 10, 2020, in the Upper Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy, the Venerable Carlo Acutis was beatified, the second last step before canonization. Days prior to Bl. Carlo’s beatification, I kept seeing news stories of him on my Facebook news feed. I knew a little bit about who Carlo was prior to his beatification, but never bothered to read up much about him.

However, on Friday October 09, 2020 I was browsing YouTube and came across a livestream of Eucharistic Adoration of youth on the vigil of Carlo’s beatification. I had a bit of an idea about what was happening, though not much because the program was in Italian. Yet, there was still something that lingered with me about the Carlo. The next day, I was able to follow live up until the Gloria (so the Beatification rite, and presentation of the relic) since I was at work that day. However, when I got home, I watched the rest of the Mass (with English commentary).

That night of October 10, before going to sleep, I wanted to know more about who Carlo really was. I scrolled through Amazon to see if there were some English titles about him, and there was a free e-book, Carlo Acutis – Servant of God: Life Beyond the Border by Francesco Occhetta and I read it in its entirety. Upon completing it, I turned off my iPad with teary-eyed.

The story of Bl. Carlo Acutis is truly a remarkable one. If you want to read more about the life of Carlo, I suggest you go online and do a Google Search… you will be able to get much of his biographical details. However, what I was more excited after Carlo’s beatification was the fact that there was now a young model of holiness, close to my generation that I can relate to and ask for his intercession and I pray for the day of his canonization.

Blessed Carlo Acutis: Five Steps to Being a Saint by Anthony Figueiredo
Click the cover to read a sample

However, I think the reading of Bl. Carlo Acutis’ life is not complete without taking into consideration his simple spirituality. There are a good number of Italian publications about Carlo’s life and his spirituality, yet not many, if any titles in English until now, that speaks of his spirituality. It was therefore an excitement for me to know in early 2021 that Mgr. Anthony Figueiredo, a monsignor currently serving in the Diocese of Assisi wrote Blessed Carlo Acutis – 5 Steps to Being a Saint and published by the Catholic Truth Society.

I was very excited the day my copy of the book came in the mail because this title is the first of its kind – that is, in terms of English publications on Bl. Carlo. It is a beautiful, high-quality publication. Don’t get yourself wrong – it is not a small, black and white biography of a saint. The book is colourful, with many quotes and photographs of Bl. Carlo Acutis. I think this is important because it brings his spirituality alive.

Yet, what is this spirituality of Bl. Carlo? Right from the start of the book, Mgr. Figueiredo made it a point that Carlo was a very normal young man. For me and for many young people, Carlo is someone who you can picture walking down the street with a sweater and jeans. Yet, what was extraordinary in this ordinary young man was his holiness and how he constantly strived towards it in the setting that he was living in. He was able to be holy, while maintaining his hobbies and pastimes that made him original. Based on Carlo’s life, Mgr. Figueiredo presents the reader five steps to holiness:

  1. Frequent reception of the Eucharist
  2. Eucharistic adoration
  3. Guidance of a spiritual father and regular Confession
  4. Devotion to the Blessed Mother through recitation of the Rosary and discovering the lives of the saints
  5. Acts of charity, small or large

Now, don’t think you read this list on my review here and think, “That’s it! I don’t need to purchase the book!” Well no. If you just read this list above, you are missing out on a lot of the “meat” of the book. Even though the book is only 86 pages, Mgr. Figueiredo really frames these five practices in very practical terms in the context of Carlo’s life.

In our lives, we often make excuses for our busyness to justify our lack of practicing these five steps to holiness. Or for some, Catholic piety and holiness can be achieved on the surface: “I’m good – I go to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. I confess once a year.” While such an observance is fine, I would think Catholicism then would only be something on the side, and not really a challenge or a striving because such a spiritual life would be too shallow.

Mgr. Figueiredo challenges his readers to go beyond a textbook Catholicism so to really develop a relationship with Jesus in our daily lives. That is what I think I was missing in my spiritual life prior to Carlo’s beatification. While I participated in youth groups, altar serving, choir… all sorts of ministries in the parish, what I lacked was a deeper spiritual life like that of Carlo. To put it in Venerable Cardinal Van Thuận’s terms, I seemed to care more about the work of God, rather than God Himself. Carlo strived to live, “Non io ma Dio – Not I but God.” He wanted to truly have a close relationship with Jesus, with Mary and saints because he knew his priorities, he knew what was the most important. Yet, that never meant that he had to give up his computer programming skills, nor his love for Pokémon, games or friends. That is what makes this young man so admirable – he was able to be that normal guy down the street, while being a saint. The “5 steps to being a saint” that Mgr. Figueiredo proposes are not difficult. Like any relationship, these five steps require commitment to make Jesus at the centre of your life.

A section that I love and appreciate about this book is, “Sayings of Blessed Carlo Acutis.” For months, I have been striving to get a collection of Carlo Acutis’ quotes because they are so simple, but knocks on the heart. Carlo seemed to like to use analogies and honestly, these quotes stick with you. Consider this, “Holiness is not the process of adding, but subtracting: less of me to leave more space for God.” Or, “The Rosary is the shortest ladder to heaven.” These are just two of a wide selection of quotes that I dare say: for the first time, compiled and translated into English in one place.

At the end of the book, all I can say is, “Thank you Mgr. Figueiredo. Thank you Carlo. Thank you God.” I completed the book in one sitting and still continue to refer to the book, re-reading parts of it because Carlo makes holiness so “attractive,” not in the earthly sense, but “attractive” because there is something so much more to holiness that worldly things cannot offer. That is, in striving for holiness, we become saints and sainthood is our goal because in sanctity, we encounter God Himself.

This book should get into the hands of as many youth and young adults as possible because Carlo’s spirituality is indeed a spirituality for everyone, and particularly young people like myself today. Hopefully there will be many, many more english titles about Bl. Carlo Acutis in the future because Carlo’s life and spirituality is one that touches that of young people of the millennial generation because Carlo himself was a teenager of the millennial generation.

You may purchase a copy of Mgr. Figueiredo’s book here.

Visit an English site about Bl. Carlo Acutis by Mgr. Figueiredo here.

Disclaimer: The Catholic Man Reviews was sent a review copy of this title to feature a sincere review of this title. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are our own. We thank Catholic Truth Society Publishing for this opportunity.

Update – February 5, 2022: Wanted to share this video produced by the Newman Catholic Students’ Club (NCSC) of the University of Toronto as part of a new video series, based on some of the reiews I have done on this blog. I thank the NCSC for giving me this opportunity. Shout out to Julia A. for producing, and editing this video.

5 thoughts on “Book Review: Blessed Carlo Acutis – 5 Steps to Being a Saint by Mgr. Anthony Figueiredo

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Carlo Acutis – The Boy Who Knew by Corinna Turner | The Catholic Man Reviews

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Carlo Acutis – A Millennial in Paradise by Fr. Will Conquer | The Catholic Man Reviews

  3. Pingback: Book Review: Carlo Acutis – The First Millennial Saint by Nicola Gori | The Catholic Man Reviews

  4. Pingback: Book Review: Dare to be More, The Witness of Blessed Carlo Acutis | The Catholic Man Reviews

  5. Pingback: The Catholic Man’s Carlo Acutis ‘Swag’ List | The Catholic Man Reviews

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