I can’t believe I put off this book for nearly two years!  I’ve always wanted to read it, but I get very intimidated by spiritual classics.  I am a notorious skimmer & reading slowly is difficult for me. Over Easter, however, I had the opportunity to slow down and dig deep into the St. Francis of de Sales classic Introduction to the Devout Life.

Consisting of five parts, Introduction to the Devout Life is a fabulous book about trying to live a holier life.  Being saintly always seemed hard, impossible and unattainable to me.   After reading this book, St. Francis de Sales puts holiness within reach!   While I’m not not normally a person who highlights or writes in books, I made liberal use of my highlighter.

The first section was about what it means to be devout and the most important thing that I got was that being devout looks different for everyone!  He also talked about confession and the effect of sin on being devout.  It included 10 meditations and a resolution to serve God.The second section covered prayer and use of the sacraments as tools in your devout life, followed by the most useful section for me — virtues.   In this section, deSales covers everything from humility and obedience to friendship, modesty and slander.  Talk about practical stuff!   Since this book is a series of letters to a woman who was part of high society, there are practical down to earth examples.  While the circumstances he wrote were from a different time, it is exceedingly simple to translate into today’s situations.

Following the section on how to live devoutly through various virtues, he then spends the whole next set of letters on temptation, how to avoid and deal with them.   The final section discusses how to regularly revisit and devote your soul to the Lord.    All in all, there are 119 letters/sections.  If you read one per day, you could read the whole thing in about 4 months and have time to process it, as well.

This book was not as intimidating as I feared.  I had to be in the right mindset — not running around like a chicken losing it’s head :).  It was a lot to absorb when reading large chunks at once so this skimmer had to slow down in order to savor it.  Introduction to the Devout Life is a fabulous book that should be in everyone’s spiritual reading queue, whether you are Catholic or not!   It’s fabulously down to earth and practical in it’s application & use and there is very little (if anything) that a non-Catholic Christian could even find fault with.

In fact, I loved this book so much, that I will be going through each letter one by one and sharing a short section for meditation each Sunday.   I would love to have you join me in this journey!   Since it’s so old, it’s likely available for free in multiple places, but if you prefer to have a regular book like me, please consider purchasing it from Aquinas and More, one of my sponsors for Allume 2012!

I wrote this review of Introduction to the Devout Life for the free Catholic Book review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.

Aquinas and More is the largest on-line Catholic bookstore.

I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

Jen S.

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