INTRODUCTION TO THE DEVOUT LIFE
By St. Francis de Sales
Introduction to the Devout Life. As no sensible person would make a long road trip without first consulting a map, so the person intent upon gaining Heaven should first resort to a competent guide to reach that Goal of all goals. And no better guide to Heaven exists than An Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622), Doctor of the Church. It is at once easy to read, being laid out in short chapters, yet thorough, authoritative, reliable, kind and gentle a mirror of its author. It is a book, moreover, for all, because all are called to the devout life. True devotion to God, the author points out, adorns every vocation. The devout life, moreover, is a lovely, a pleasant, and a happy life. (p. 5)
Addressed as a personal letter to Philothea, the lover of God which genuinely represents the reader the book covers: our first desire to lead a devout life to our full resolution to do so, how we should approach God in prayer and the Sacraments, the practice of 16 important virtues, remedies against ordinary temptations, and becoming confirmed in our practice of devotion. St. Francis says, Devotion is spiritual agility and vivacity, by means of which charity works in us, or we in her, with love and readiness; and as charity leads us to obey and fulfill all God s Commandments, so devotion leads us to obey them with promptitude and diligence. (p. 3)
An Introduction to the Devout Life is a book to be read with pencil in hand. It is a book to be read again and again. It is a book to make your guide for the rest of your life. It goes to the heart of becoming good. Its aim is to help you be rid of sin and even the inclinations to sin. Alone, its 10 brief meditations in Part I will orient you toward God for the rest of your life. No one will come away without being profoundly impressed and without being motivated to enter upon the devout life . . . which leads ultimately to God and to Heaven.
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Isaias 53: 4-5. Surely he hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows: and we have thought him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his bruises we are healed.
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The time is fast approaching in which there will be great trials and afflictions; perplexities and dissensions, both spiritual and temporal, will abound; the charity of many will grow cold, and the malice of the wicked will increase.
The devils will have unusual power, the immaculate purity of our Order, and of others, will be so much obscured that there will be very few Christians who will obey the true Sovereign Pontiff and the Roman Church with loyal hearts and perfect charity. At the time of this tribulation a man, not canonically elected, will be raised to the Pontificate, who, by his cunning, will endeavour to draw many into error and death.
Then scandals will be multiplied, our Order will be divided, and many others will be entirely destroyed, because they will consent to error instead of opposing it.
There will be such diversity of opinions and schisms among the people, the religious and the clergy, that, except those days were shortened, according to the words of the Gospel, even the elect would be led into error, were they not specially guided, amid such great confusion, by the immense mercy of God.
Then our Rule and manner of life will be violently opposed by some, and terrible trials will come upon us. Those who are found faithful will receive the crown of life; but woe to those who, trusting solely in their Order, shall fall into tepidity, for they will not be able to support the temptations permitted for the proving of the elect.
Those who preserve in their fervour and adhere to virtue with love and zeal for the truth, will suffer injuries and, persecutions as rebels and schismatics; for their persecutors, urged on by the evil spirits, will say they are rendering a great service to God by destroying such pestilent men from the face of the earth. but the Lord will be the refuge of the afflicted, and will save all who trust in Him. And in order to be like their Head, [Christ] these, the elect, will act with confidence, and by their death will purchase for themselves eternal life; choosing to obey God rather than man, they will fear nothing, and they will prefer to perish rather than consent to falsehood and perfidy.
Some preachers will keep silence about the truth, and others will trample it under foot and deny it. Sanctity of life will be held in derision even by those who outwardly profess it, for in those days JESUS CHRIST WILL SEND THEM NOT A TRUE PASTOR, BUT A DESTROYER."
The Prophecy of St. Francis
"Moses said, is a lion's whelp; and in naming the tribe of Dan he declared clearly the tribe from which Antichrist is destined to spring." (St. Hippolytus)
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