INTRODUCTION TO THE DEVOUT LIFE
SAINT FRANCIS DE SALES
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Introduction to the Devout Life used to be written by St. Francis de Sales, the first edition being published in 1609. It enjoyed wide popularity, evidenced by its translation into all major languages of the day. It is normally categorized as a form of reading referred to as lectio divina or divine reading, based on the Christian monastic practice of spiritual reading. Like The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis, it is thought of as a spiritual classic in the Christian tradition. The work is also used as a guide in Christian spiritual direction.
PUBLISHER: CATHOLIC WAY PUBLISHING
Devout life does not require withdrawal from the world. This used to be the central insight of Saint Francis de Sales, a 16th-century priest whose Introduction to the Devout Life has not gone out of print in almost four centuries. Francis served the church at a dangerous time in a dangerous place: throughout the Reformation, in Calvinist areas of France, when celebrating mass used to be punishable by death. He used to be a popular minister and a prolific letter author whose correspondence used to be cherished for its clear and direct instruction in the ways of piety. The book collects passages from many of those letters, organized as one message addressed to the allegorical character Philothea (which means that “lover of God”). The book includes long sections about prayer, temptation, and how to handle and renew devotion to God. But it is most distinguished by its discussion of how to live a holy life in the secular world. Each chapter (such as “How to Combine Due Deal with a Good Reputation with Humility”) is frank, uncannily modern, and precise. –Michael Joseph Gross