St. Francis began An Introduction to the Devout Life as a correspondence with a married women looking to increase her spiritual devotion in the midst of a busy life; the result was a layman’s guide to the spiritual life. Each chapter is a short meditation designed to challenge and refocus the believer towards an authentic Christian life. At nearly 120 chapters, An Introduction to the Devout Life is the perfect companion for jump-starting a devotional routine or continuing a life-long journey of spiritual maturity.
“The ordinary purifying and healing, be it of the body or the soul, is only effected little and little, going on by degrees, with pain and labour.” (Page 11)
“So, when the penitent hates his sin, but only with a light, though true contrition, he resolves indeed to sin no more; but when he abhors it with a powerful and vigorous contrition, he then not only detests the sin, but all the affections, tendencies, and occasions of it.” (Page 16)
“I make use of a name applicable to all such as aspire to devotion; for the Greek word, Philothea, signifies a soul loving, or in love with, God.” (Pages viii–ix)
“The first purification which ought to be made is from sin; the means to make it is the sacrament of penance.” (Page 12)
“Philothea, to go with a good guide on this holy voyage of devotion, beseech God with great fervency to grant you one that may be according to his heart; and doubt not, for he will rather send you an angel from heaven, as He did to young Tobias, than fail to give you a good and faithful guide.” (Page 9)
In addition to being an accomplished preacher, St. Francis de Sales devoted much of his life to healing religious divisions, and is known to have endured extreme conditions while preaching. He was a bishop of Geneva, Switzerland, and his writings about spiritual direction and spiritual formation have earned him recognition in the Roman Catholic Church as a Doctor of the Church.