God Loving Soul

[Live, Jesus! Live, Jesus!]

Philothea (God loving Soul),

or The Introduction to the Devout Life

by St. Francis De Sales


Originally written in French 1607-08 and first published in 1609, this book was an overnight classic. Additional authorized editions were printed in 1609, 1610, 1612, 1613, 1618, etc. and numerous unauthorized editions (many being protestant plagiarisms with heretical additions and deletions) appeared in 1610, 1611, 1613, 1615, 1616, etc. The book was translated into over 17 different languages by the year 1656 and has had countless editions printed since. This book report is from two different current translations. One is from TAN Books and the other is from Doubleday/Image.


Pope Pius XI issued the Encyclical "Rerum Omnium" on Jan. 26th, 1923 (the 300th anniversary of St. Francis de Sales death) designating him the Patron Saint of Catholic Writers and Journalists. Quote from the Encyclical: "Would that this book, the most perfect of its kind in the judgment of his contemporaries, as it was at one time in the hands of all, were now read by all, so that true piety might everywhere flourish again, and the Church of God might rejoice in seeing sanctity common among her sons."


Dedicatory Prayer

Ah, sweet Jesus, my Lord, my Saviour, and my God, behold me here prostrate before your Majesty as I pledge and consecrate this work to your glory. By your blessing give life to its words so that the souls for whom it has been written may receive from it the sacred inspirations I desire for them, in particular that of imploring your infinite mercy in my behalf to the end that while I point out to others the way of devotion in this world I myself may not be rejected and eternally condemned in the other, but that with them I may forever sing as a canticle of triumph words that with my whole heart I utter in witness of fidelity amid the hazards of this mortal life:


Yes, Lord Jesus, live and reign in our hearts forever and ever. Amen.


First Part of the Introduction

True Devotion: Its Nature, All are called to be devout, The Necessity of a Spiritual Guide, Purifying the Soul (Purgations) from Mortal Sin, Meditations on the Fundamental Truths, General Confession, and more....

Second Part of the Introduction

Prayer: Its Necessity, The Presence of God, Holy Communion, Invocation and Meditation with the Saints, Spiritual Bouquets, Retreats, and Aridity, The Word of God, and more......

Third Part of the Introduction

Practice of Virtue: The Right Effort, The Virtues, Poverty and Wealth, Friendship, Amusements, and Desires, Society and Solitude, Advice, and more.....

Fourth Part of the Introduction

State of Soul: Courage, Temptation, Anxiety, Sorrow, Consolations, Spiritual Barrenness and Desolation

Fifth Part of the Introduction

Spiritual Review: Annual Spiritual Examination, Our Progress, God, Neighbor and Ourselves, Objections, Final Counsel

Preface "..... a strong, resolute soul can live in the world without being infected by any of its moods, find sweet springs of piety amid its salty waves, and fly through the flames of earthly lusts without burning the wings of its holy desire for a devout life. Our age is very captious. I foresee that many people will say that it is only members of religious communities and persons dedicated to devotion who should give special direction in piety....."


First Part of the Introduction -

Instructions needed to Lead the Soul from desire for to embracing the devout life.

Description of True Devotion, Its Nature, { I.2.1 "...a devout life is a life that is sweet, happy, and lovable."} All are called to be devout, The Necessity of a Spiritual Guide, Purifying the Soul (Purgations) from Mortal Sin and the Affection for Sin, {I.5.4 "...[when practicing] humility...we are never vanquished unless we lose our life or our courage."} Meditations on the Fundamental Truths - Our Creation, the end for which we were created, God's Benefactions, Sin, Death, Judgment, Hell, Paradise {I.16.1 "Consider a calm, beautiful night and think how good it is to see the sky with its countless varied stars. Next add its beauty to that of a fine day in such a way that the brilliant sun does not prevent a clear view of the stars or moon. Then say boldly that all this beauty put together is of no value when compared to the excellence of God's paradise."}, the choice of Heaven, the choice of a devout life, how to make a General Confession {I.19.1 "The scorpion that bites us is poisonous at the moment it strikes, but when reduced to oil it is an effective remedy against its own sting. Sin is shameful...when we commit it; ...[but] contrition and confession ... have so good an odor that they wipe away the ugliness of sin and purify its stench."}, an authentic declaration to impress on the soul its resolution to serve God, acts of penance, Purifying ourselves from venial sins, affection for useless and dangerous things {I.23.1 "...I hold that although it is licit to engage in sports, dance, wear fine clothes, attend harmless [stage] comedies, and enjoy banquets, to have a strong liking for such things is not only opposed to devotion but also extremely harmful and dangerous."}, and evil inclinations.


Second Part of the Introduction -

Various instructions for Elevating the Soul to God by prayer and sacraments

The necessity of Prayer {II.1.1 "...prayer places our intellect in the brilliance of God's light and exposes our will to the warmth of his heavenly love..."}, A short method of meditation, the Presence of God, Invocation, Contemplation of the Mystery, Considerations, Affections and Resolutions, Conclusions and Spiritual Bouquets, Dryness in Meditation, Morning Exercises, Evening exercises and examination of conscience, Spiritual Retreats {II.12.5 "When the father and mother of St. Catherine of Siena deprived her of all opportunity for time and place to pray and meditate, our Lord inspired her to build a little oratory within her soul where she could retire mentally and enjoy this holy heartfelt solitude while going about her outward duties."}, Aspirations, Ejaculatory Prayers, and Good Thoughts, How to Attend Holy Mass, Other Public and communal exercises, our duty to invoke the Saints, How to hear the Word of God, How to receive Inspiration, Holy Confession {II.19.2 "In the single act of confession you will exercise more virtues than in any other act whatsoever. (humility, obedience, simplicity, and charity)}, the need for Frequent Communion{II.20.1 "...if tender fruits...most subject to decay...can be easily preserved for a whole year with sugar or honey, it is no wonder our hearts, no matter how frail and weak, are preserved from the corruption of sin when sweetened by the incorruptible flesh and blood of the Son of God."}, How to Communicate


Third Part of the Introduction -

Instructions on the Practice of Virtue.

Choices we must make in the practice of Virtues, Continued Patience, Outward Humility, Interior Humility[III.5.5 "The humble man is all the more courageous (than the proud man) because he recognizes his own impotence. The more wretched he esteems himself the more daring he becomes because he places his whole trust in God who rejoices to display his power in our weakness...."}, Loving our abjection, Preserving our good name while practicing Humility, Meekness towards Neighbor, Remedies for Anger, Meekness towards ourselves, Watching our affairs carefully but without Eagerness of Solicitude, Obedience, the Necessity of Chastity{III.12.3 "...when fruits are whole and sound they can be preserved [many ways]. Once damaged, they are almost impossible to keep except by sugar or honey. In like manner when chastity has not been violated it can be kept safe in many ways. Once broken, nothing can preserve it except extraordinary devotion, which is the true sugar and honey of the spirit....[see II.20.1 above]}, How to preserve Chastity{III.13.1"...things are always easier to avoid than to cure. Human bodies are like glass vessels that cannot be carried about while touching one another without risk of breakage. They are also like [sound fruits] which...are damaged by rubbing against one another. No matter how fresh and pure the water in a vessel may be, once it has been cannot keep its freshness for let oneself be touched immodestly is the utter ruin of chastity."}, Poverty of Spirit amidst Riches{III.14.2 "There is a difference between having poison and being poisoned. you can possess riches without being poisoned by them if you merely keep them in your home and not in your heart. To be rich in effect and poor in affection(spirit) is a great happiness for a Christian."}, Richness of Spirit amidst Real Poverty, Evil and Frivolous Friendships, Fond Loves, True Friendships{III.19.1 "Love everyone based on charity...but form friendships only with those who can share virtuous things with you. The higher the virtues...the more perfect the friendship will be. difference between true and frivolous friendships, advice and remedies against Evil friendships{III.21.1 "...our heart breathes through the ear. Just as it breathes forth its thought from the tongue so it breathes in the thoughts of others through the ear. Let us keep close watch on our ears against breathing in the foul air of filthy words, for otherwise our heart will soon become infected."}, {III.22.3 "...two mighty columns for the firm support of a Christian life...Sirach 6:17 (the Wise One) and James 4:4."}Exterior Mortifications{III.23.10 "...we must never undertake bodily austerities without the advice of our spiritual director."}, Society and Solitude, Propriety in dress {III.25.1 "...How to Dress..Timothy 2:9-10 and 1 Peter 3:3."}, Why and How we must speak of God {III.26.1 "By your words you will be justified and condemned...Matthew 12:37"}, Respect due others and Modesty in Speech{III.27.3 "To scoff at others is one of the worst states a mind can be in. God detests this vice....Nothing is so opposed to charity, and even more so to devotion..."}, Rash Judgment{III.28.4 "The sin of rash judgment is truly spiritual jaundice and causes all things to appear evil to the eyes of those infected with it."}, Slander{III.29.7 "Don't adorn disobedience with the name of zeal, insolence with the name of frankness, or lewd familiarity with the name of friendship."[call a spade a spade]}, Additional advice with regard to conversation{III.30.4 "To speak little-a practice highly recommended by ancient sages-does not consist in uttering only a few words but in uttering none that are useless."}, Lawful and Praiseworthy pastimes and recreations, Prohibited Games{III.32.1 Games of chance}, Parties and Lawful but dangerous pastimes, When it is permissible to Dance and Play, being faithful to both little and great tasks{III.35.5 ...faithful with few, placed over many...Matthew 25:21."}, We must preserve a just and Reasonable Mind, On Desires {III.37.3 "Do not desire crosses except in proportion to the way in which you have patiently carried those already sent to you. It is an abuse to desire martyrdom and lack courage to put up with an injury."}, Instructions for Married Persons{III.38.15 "St. Gregory Nazianzen tells us that in his time married people kept their wedding anniversary as a festival day. For my part, I approve of reviving this custom, provided that it is not attended by worldly and sensual amusements. On that day the husband and wife should go to confession and receive Holy Communion and with more than ordinary fervor commend to God the success and happiness of their marriage."}, the sanctity of the marriage bed, Instructions for Widows, a word to Virgins.


Fourth Part of the Introduction -

Necessary Counsel against the most Frequent Temptations.

Disregarding the Criticisms of this World's Children{IV.1.1 "As soon as worldly people see that you wish to follow a devout life they aim a thousand darts of mockery and even detraction at you."}, Having Firm Courage, the Nature of Temptation{IV.8.2 "...these little temptations to anger, suspicion, jealousy, envy, fond love, frivolity, vanity, affection, craftiness, and evil thoughts continually attack even the most devout and resolute."}, Feeling VS Consenting, Two Good Illustrations, Encouragement for a Soul under Temptation, How Temptation and Pleasure become Sinful, Remedies against Great Temptations, Resisting Small Temptations, Remedies against Small Temptations{IV.9.3 "...moreover, this is so terrifying to the evil spirit that as soon as he sees that his temptations urge us on to God's love he ceases to tempt us."}, Strengthening our Heart against Temptation, Anxiety, Sorrow, Spiritual and Sensible Consolations and our Conduct, Spiritual Dryness and Sterility{IV.14.7 and 9 "Those who are rich with the world's pleasures are incapable of spiritual delights..... An evil is half cured when its cause is known."}{IV.15.7 "It sometimes happens that distaste, aridity and sterility come from some bodily indisposition.."}, A confirmation and clarification of what has been said with a remarkable example.


Fifth Part of the Introduction -

Renewing the Soul and Confirming it in Devotion.

Annual Renewal of our Good Resolutions{V.1.1 "The flesh rests heavily on the soul and constantly drags it downward unless the soul frequently lifts itself up by fervent resolutions..."}, Consideration of How God Benefits Us,

Examinations of:

1) Our Soul on its Progress in the Devout Life,

2) Our State of Soul in relation to God,

3) Our State with Regard to Ourselves and our Neighbor,

4) the Affections of the Soul,

Affections to be formed after this examination,

Considerations Proper for Renewing our Good Resolutions:

1) Excellence of our Soul,

2) Excellence of Virtue,

{V.11.1 "Reflect that in this world nothing but virtue and devotion can satisfy your soul."}

3) Examples of the Saints,

4) the Love Jesus has for Us,

5) God's Eternal Love for Us,

Answers to two objections that may be made to this Introduction, the Three Last and Principal Counsels for this Introduction.

V.18.3 "When St. Symphorian's mother saw her son led away to martyrdom, she cried after him, "My son, my son, remember eternal life! Look up to heaven, and think of him who reigns there! Your approaching end will quickly close the brief course of this life." My Philothea, I too say to you, look up to heaven, and do not forfeit it for the earth. Look down into hell, and do not cast yourself into it for the sake of fleeting things. Look upon Jesus Christ, and do not renounce him for the world. And when the labors of a devout life seem hard to you, sing with St, Francis of Assisi:

"Such are the joys that lure my sight,

All pains grow sweet, all labors light."

Live, Jesus! to whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be all the honor and glory, now and throughout the endless ages of eternity. Amen.

From the Library of Spiritual Works for English Catholics, A New Translation of
the Introduction to the Devout Life by Saint Francis de Sales.
Published by
London : Oxford : Cambridge
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