An Introduction to the Devout Life

An Introduction to the Devout Life

by Francis de Sales


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First published in 1609 “An Introduction to the Devout Life” is Saint Francis de Sales work which belongs to the Christian tradition of “Lectio Divina” or “Divine Reading”. Like Thomas à Kempis’ “The Imitation of Christ” it is a work intended to provide guidance to the individual desiring spiritual direction in order to lead a more devout life. Based on a series of letters between Francis and his cousin, Madame Marie de Charmoisy, who as the wife of an ambassador of the Duke of Savoy was struggling with the distractions to faith associated with court life, “An Introduction to the Devout Life” was crafted from those original letters into a guide for a more general audience. Through five parts Francis discusses the aspiration to a devout life, the use of prayer and sacraments, the personal characteristics of virtue necessary to the devout life, the challenge of temptation and how to overcome it, and the practices for renewing and confirming the soul in devotion. An immensely popular work of Christian spirituality “An Introduction to the Devout Life” remains as relevant today as when it was first published. This edition is printed on premium acid-free paper.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781420957877
Publisher: Neeland Media
Publication date: 06/06/2018
Pages: 190
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.44(d)

About the Author

Piers Paul Read, third son of poet and art critic Sir Herbert Read, was born in 1941, raised in North Yorkshire, and educated by Benedictine monks at Ampleforth College. His fiction has won the Hawthornden Prize, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Two of his novels, A Married Man and The Free Frenchman, have been adapted for television and a third, Monk Dawson, as a feature film. Read is a fellow and member of the Council of the Royal Society of Literature and a member of the Council of the Society of Authors. He lives in London.

Read an Excerpt

Francis de Sales’s Introduction to the Devout Life has remained a uniquely accessible and relevant treasure of devotion for nearly four hundred years. As Bishop of Geneva in the first quarter of the sevenjteenth century, Francis de Sales saw to the spiritual needs of everyone from the poorest peasants to court ladies. The desire to be closer to God that he found in people from all levels of society led him to compile these instructions on how to live in Christ. Francis’s compassionate Introduction leads the reader through practical ways of attaining a devout life without renouncing the world and offers prayers and meditations to strengthen devotion in the face of temptation and hardship.

Table of Contents

Preface     xi
Introduction     xv
The Author's Preface     xxi
The First Part of the Introduction: Containing Counsels and Exercises Requisite for the Guidance of the Soul from Her First Desire of the Devout Life, Until She be Brought to a Full Resolution to Embrace It
Description of true devotion     1
The nature and excellence of devotion     4
That devotion is suited to all vocations and professions     6
Of the necessity of a guide, in order to enter on the path of devotion and make progress therein     8
That a beginning must be made by the purgation of the soul     11
Of the first purgation, which is that of mortal sins     13
Of the second purgation, which is that of the affection to sin     14
Of the means of making this second purgation     16
Meditation I: Of creation     17
Meditation II: Of the end for which we are created     20
Meditation III: Of the benefits of God     22
Meditation IV: Of sin     24
Meditation V: Of death     26
Meditation VI: Of the judgement     28
Meditation VII: Of hell     30
Meditation VIII: Of Paradise     32
Meditation IX: By way of election and choice of Paradise     34
Meditation X: By way ofelection and choice which the soul makes of the devout life     36
How to make the general confession     38
Solemn protestation, to engrave on the soul the resolution to serve God and to conclude the acts of repentance     40
Conclusion of this first purgation     42
That we must purify ourselves from the affections which we have to venial sins     43
That we must purify ourselves from affection to useless and dangerous, things     45
That we must purify ourselves from evil inclinations     47
Second Part of the Introduction: Containing Divers Counsels for the Elevation of the Soul to God by Prayer and the Sacraments
Of the necessity of prayer     49
A short method for meditation: And first, of the presence of God, which is the first point of the preparation     52
Of the invocation which is the second point of the preparation     55
Of the setting forth of the mystery, which is the third point of the preparation     56
Of the considerations, which are the second part of the meditation     57
Of the affections and resolutions, which are the third part of the meditation     58
Of the conclusion and spiritual nosegay     59
Some very profitable counsels upon the subject of meditation     60
For the dryness which may be experienced in meditation      62
Exercise for the morning     64
Exercise for the evening, and examination of conscience     66
Of spiritual retirement     67
Of aspirations, ejaculatory prayers, and good thoughts     70
Of the most holy Mass and how we ought to hear it     75
Of other exercises which are public and made in common     77
That we should honour and invoke the saints     79
How we ought to hear and read the word of God     80
How we should receive inspirations     82
Of holy Confession     85
Of frequent Communion     88
How we ought to communicate     92
Third Part of the Introduction: Containing Sundry Counsels Concerning the Exercise of Virtues
Of the choice which we ought to make in regard to the exercise of virtues     95
Continuation of the same discourse on the choice of virtues     100
Of patience     103
Of humility for the exterior     108
Of humility which is more interior     111
That humility makes us love our own abjection     116
How we should preserve our good name while practising humility     120
Of gentleness towards our neighbour and how to remedy anger     124
Of gentleness towards ourselves     129
That we must manage our affairs with care, but without eagerness or anxiety     131
Of obedience     134
Of the necessity of chastity     136
Counsels for preserving chastity     140
Of poverty of spirit observed in the midst of riches     143
How to practise real poverty, remaining notwithstanding actually rich     146
How to practise richness of spirit in real poverty     150
Of friendship, and first of that which is bad and frivolous     152
Of flirtations     154
Of true friendships     158
Of the difference between true friendships and vain     161
Counsels and remedies against evil friendships     164
Some further counsels on the subject of friendships     167
Of the exercises of exterior mortification     170
Of society and of solitude     176
Of propriety in attire     179
Of speech; and first, how to speak of God     181
Of propriety in words, and of the respect which we owe to others     182
Of rash judgements     185
Of detraction     190
Some further counsels in regard to speech     196
Of pastimes and recreations; and first, of such as are lawful and praiseworthy     198
Of forbidden games     199
Of balls and pastimes which are permissible but dangerous     201
When we may play or dance     203
That we must be faithful both on great and on small occasions     204
That we must have a just and reasonable spirit     207
Of desires     210
Counsels for married persons     212
Of the honourableness of the marriage bed     220
Counsels for widows     224
A word to virgins     230
Fourth Part of the Introduction: Containing Counsels for Combating the More Ordinary Temptations
That we must pay no heed to what the children of the world say     231
That we must have great courage     234
Of the nature of temptations and of the difference that there is between feeling temptation and consenting to it     235
Two good examples on this subject     238
Encouragement to the soul in temptation     240
How temptation and delectation may be sin     241
Remedies against great temptations     244
That we must resist small temptations     245
Of remedies against small temptations     247
How we must strengthen our hearts against temptations     248
Of disquietude     249
Of sadness      252
Of spiritual and sensible consolations, and how we should behave in them     255
Of spiritual dryness and barrenness     262
Confirmation and illustration of what has been said by a notable example     268
Fifth Part of the Introduction: Containing Exercises and Counsels for Renewing the Soul and Confirming Her in Devotion
That we must renew our good resolutions every year by the following exercises     273
Consideration on the favour which God shows us in calling us to his holy service, according to the protestation set forth above     275
Of the examination of our soul concerning her advancement in the devout life     277
Examination of the state of our soul towards God     279
Examination of the state of our soul in regard to ourselves     281
Examination of the state of our soul in regard to our neighbour     282
Examination of the affections of our soul     283
Affections which we must exercise after this examination     284
Of considerations suitable to the renewal of our good purposes     285
First consideration: of the excellence of our souls     286
Second consideration: of the excellence of the virtues     287
Third consideration: of the example of the Saints     288
Fourth consideration: of the love that Jesus Christ bears us      289
Fifth consideration: of the eternal love of God for us     291
General affections on the preceding considerations and conclusion of the exercise     292
Of the sentiments which we must keep after this exercise     293
Reply to two objections which may be made against this Introduction     294
Three final and principal counsels for this Introduction     295

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Introduction to the Devout Life 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
tcg More than 1 year ago
This book is so well written, that it is great for all times. It is amazing that St. Francis de Sales could have such insight into so many aspects of life.