Sunday, December 7, 2014

Catholic Review: Introduction to the Devout Life

Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales, April 9, 2002 (originally published in 1609). 288 pages. Published by Vintage. Source: my mom's book collection.
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.

Even though I have many, many (to infinity) books on my plate, I still cannot help but sneak in a book from my mom's collection of Catholic books. While this one is new to the shelves, we both were eyeballing it at the bookstore a while back and she let me have first dibs on reading it.

While this was not the Francis de Sales book I had been searching for, I was drawn to it because I was interested in seeing what he had to say on the devout life. Especially because the book was meant for those not taking religious vows; the laity. Even though this book was first written back 1609, his writing and what he has to say is still quite relevant today as it was then. For me, I enjoyed hearing his thoughts on how to remain focused on God and a life of prayer without becoming a hermit. I also liked how he covered different stages of one's life-single and married as both have different forms of chastity and was to fulfill ones' vocation.

So, that being said, what kept me reading was that I felt that he was speaking to me on certain things. The third part of Introduction to the Devout Life is the one that really hit me. Why, because I have the worst patience, as in, it doesn't exist. Well, then, so here pops up this chapter on patience and I'm thinking that it was just for me because I saw myself there. While the passage for it was short, and something I couldn't even begin to talk about, I actually feel that maybe, just maybe, there maybe be hope for me on learning patience with dealing with people who annoy me.
As I was reading Introduction to the Devout Life I couldn't help but pray that I wouldn't fall into some of the pitfalls mentioned throughout the book. While I try not to judge people, it can be hard. Yet, it can be even harder to not judge oneself harshly, too. So, when I came to chapters that dealt with both of these issues, I couldn't help but take them to heart because there are so many ways that everyone, myself included, refuse to let other people and themselves move beyond past mistakes.

Even though I this was my first time reading the writing of St. Francis de Sales, and that this book was written way back in the 1600s, his writing was very accessible to today's modern readers. Guys, don't let his Doctor of the Church status scare you away from giving his writing a chance. His writing is just really, really good and there is so much within this book, and probably his other work as well, that should be read today.

Final Verdict: Introduction to the Devout Life- Easily one of the most accessible works from a Doctor of the Church (at least that I've read). This is definitely one that I am highly recommending to all who are looking to strengthen their devout life.

Introduction to the Devout Life earns

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