An Introduction to the Devout Life | Saint Francis de Sales

Here is a book i've been needing to review for about a month now ::An Introduction to the Devout Life | Saint Francis de Sales

Like I said I finished reading this book awhile back but have been re-reading some of my favorite quotes and pondering the idea of the devout life.

It’s hard for me to embrace books by old timers like de Sales sometimes. I had the same issue when I read Brother Lawrence’s Practicing the Presence of God. It just seems like these guys are so spiritual and I wonder if I can ever really “get there” or something, if I can ever really live the kind of life they encourage.

Some of the problem is with the old school language and the perfunctory verbage but some of my problem is simply with myself. Can God’s grace really enable that kind of holiness in me? The answer is, YES! Yes He can. But it’s a journey, it’s a battle, it’s a epic story that won’t be finished anytime soon. That, I need to remember!

Saint Francis de Sales write a great book here. Some very challenging things and some really practical things. The books format is as if he’s writing to a young daughter in the faith guiding her into the devout life.

It's long and not the easiest read but I highly recommend it!

Below are a handful of my favorite quote and a thought or two about them, enjoy!

“The difference between love and devotion is just that which exists between fire and flame—love being a spiritual fire which becomes devotion when it is fanned into a flame…"

Burn baby, burn! Reminds me of a John Wesley quote that I can’t really remember. Something like, “God’s love is a fire. Light yourself on fire and people will come from miles to watch you burn.” Or something…

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“Gather a little bouquet of devotion… when the mind explores some mystery in meditation, it is well to pick out one or more points that have specially arrested the attention, and are most likely to be helpful to you through the day… “

It's in this quote and a few others that Saint Francis seems to throw us a bone. It often seems daunting to think through the life of devotion, to be the kind of “spiritual giant” that Saint Francis or Brother Lawrence were. The Luther’s who pray 4 hours every morning or the Wesley’s that start movements with their devotion to Christ. It’s hard to read works like this one, at least it is for me, because I wondering if I am really capable of being this devoted to Christ. But it’s in spaces like this that I hear, “take it one step, one prayer, one moment at a time.” Like Wesley said, “Holiness is moment by moment.”

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“When we are beset by any particular vice, it is well as far as possible to make the opposite virtue our special aim, and turn every thing to that account; so doing, we shall overcome our enemy and meanwhile make progress in all virtue.”

I thought this was a cool, practical little adage for those of us who have certain struggles or vices.

Another cool little practical word give by Saint Francis is the advice to study. He recommends you always have a book in hand and more specifically be studying a Saint who inspires you and seems to particularly pray on your behalf.

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On patience as a part of devotion “Do not limit your patience to this or that kind of trial, but extend it universally to whatever God may send, or allow to befall you.”

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“So When you have fallen, lift up your heart in quietness, humbling yourself deeply before God by reason of your frailty, without marveling that you fell; there is no cause to marvel because weakness is weak, or infirmity infirm. Heartily lament that you should have offended God, and begin anew to cultivate the lacking grace, with a very deep trust in His Mercy, and with a bold, brave heart.”

I think this is something we all need to remember. It’s not “if” but “When you have fallen” because we will all fall but what grace enables is for us to pick up our head, receive God’s heart and boldly press on in His strength. Amen!

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“Love alone leads to perfection, but the three chief means for acquiring it are obedience, chastity, and poverty. --- And all three must be raised upon the fourth, which is humility.”

Just love this quote and idea. Christian perfection… not a popular idea among many but the good Saint Francis, a devout Christian and Roman Catholic seems to be down with it. Him and John Wesley! at least.

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“Married People need a watchful purity whereby to keep God ever before them, and to seek all earthly happiness and delight through Him Alone, ever remembering that He has sanctified the state of holy matrimony by making it the type of His own union with the Church.”

Good reminder!

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Great occasions for serving God come seldom, but little ones surround us daily; and the Lord Himself has told us that “he that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.”

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St. Gregory Nazianzen says that in his time married people were wont to celebrate the anniversary of their wedding… husbands and wives should go on that day to Confession and Communion, and commend their married life specially to God, renewing their resolution to promote mutual good by increased love and faithfulness, and thus take breath, so to say, and gather new vigor from the Lord to on steadfastly in their vocation.”

A great idea to make your anniversary some more, something spiritual!

---------------- If you can find that tiny lingering spark, it will suffice to rekindle the extinguished falmes of devotion. So it is with love, which is the true spiritual life amid our greatest, most active temptation.”

If reminds me that even when I face my biggest temptations and feel as it God is silent and my “spiritual life” is dead, there is still a spark somewhere in there. A love for the Lord that can reignite the flames of devotion if I will let it!

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having tried our soul as to love, hate, desire, fear, hope, sadness, and joy, if we find our strings out of tune for the melody we wish to raise, which is God’s Glory, we must tune them afresh with the help of His Grace, and the counsel of our spiritual guide.”

I love the metaphor of an instrument. We are tuned so that we can resonate the Glory of God. Such a great picture!

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My soul, you are made for God, woe be to you if you stop short in anything short off Him!

AMEN!