Introduction to the Devout Life

by Saint Francis de Sales

The most popular Catholic self-help book of all time is written for laymen. This 17th century classic is a proven spiritual guide for living an authentic Christian life.

Search Introduction to the Devout Life:

Preface by the Author

Part I: Attaining a Firm Resolution to the Devout Life

  1. What True Devotion Is
  2. The Nature and Excellence of Devotion
  3. Devotion is Suitable to Every Vocation and Profession
  4. The Need of a Guide for Those Who Would Enter Upon and Advance in the Devout Life
  5. The First Step Must be Purifying the Soul
  6. The First Purification, Namely, From Mortal Sin
  7. The Second Purification, From All Sinful Affections
  8. How to Effect This Second Purification
  9. First Meditation - On Creation
  10. Second Meditation - On the End for Which We Were Created
  11. Third Meditation - On the Gifts of God
  12. Fourth Meditation - On Sin
  13. Fifth Meditation - On Death
  14. Sixth Meditation - On Judgment
  15. Seventh Meditation - On Hell
  16. Eighth Meditation - On Paradise
  17. Ninth Meditation - On the Choice Open to You Between Heaven and Hell
  18. Tenth Meditation - On How the Soul Chooses the Devout Life
  19. How to Make a General Confession
  20. A Hearty Protest Made with the Object of Confirming the Soul's Resolution to Serve God, as a Conclusion to its Acts of Penitence
  21. Conclusion of This First Purification
  22. The Necessity of Purging Away All Tendency to Venial Sins
  23. It is Needful to Put Away All Inclination for Useless and Dangerous Things
  24. All Evil Inclinations Must be Purged Away

Part II: Prayer and the Sacraments

  1. The Necessity of Prayer
  2. A Short Method of Meditation, and first, the Presence of God, the First Point of Preparation
  3. Invocation, the Second Point of Preparation
  4. The Third Point of Preparation, Representing the Mystery to be Meditated to Your Imagination
  5. Considerations, the Second Part of Meditation
  6. The Third Part of Meditation, Affections and Resolutions
  7. The Conclusion and Spiritual Bouquet
  8. Some Useful Hints as to Meditation
  9. Concerning Dryness in Meditation
  10. Morning Prayer
  11. Evening Prayer and Examination of Conscience
  12. Spiritual Retirement
  13. Aspirations, Ejaculatory Prayer, and Holy Thoughts
  14. Holy Communion, and How to Join in It
  15. The Other Public Offices of the Church
  16. How the Saints are United to Us
  17. How to Hear and Read God's Word
  18. How to Receive Inspirations
  19. Confession
  20. Frequent Communion
  21. How to Communicate

Part III: The Practice of Virtue

  1. How to Select That Which We Should Chiefly Practise
  2. The Same Subject Continued
  3. Patience
  4. Exterior Humility
  5. Interior Humility
  6. Humility Makes Us Rejoice in Our Own Abjection
  7. How to Combine Due Care for a Good Reputation with Humility
  8. Gentleness Towards Others and Remedies Against Anger
  9. Gentleness Towards Ourselves
  10. We Must Attend to the Business of Life Carefully, but Without Eagerness or Over-Anxiety
  11. Obedience
  12. Purity
  13. How to Maintain Purity
  14. Poverty of Spirit Amid Riches
  15. How to Exercise Real Poverty, Although Actually Rich
  16. How to Possess a Rich Spirit Amid Real Poverty
  17. Friendship: Evil and Frivolous Friendship
  18. Frivolous Attachments
  19. Real Friendship
  20. The Difference Between True and False Friendship
  21. Remedies Against Evil Friendships
  22. Further Advice Concerning Intimacies
  23. The Practice of Bodily Mortification
  24. Society and Solitude
  25. Modesty in Dress
  26. Conversation; and, First, How to Speak of God
  27. Unseemly Words, and the Respect Due to Others
  28. Hasty Judgments
  29. Slander
  30. Further Counsels as to Conversation
  31. Amusements and Recreations: What are Allowable
  32. Forbidden Amusements
  33. Balls, and Other Lawful but Dangerous Amusements
  34. When to Use Such Amusements Rightly
  35. We Must be Faithful in Things Great and Small
  36. A Well-Balanced, Reasonable Mind
  37. Wishes
  38. Counsels to Married People
  39. The Sanctity of the Marriage Bed
  40. Counsels to Widows
  41. One Word to Maidens

Part IV: Some Ordinary Temptations

  1. We Must Not Trifle with the Words of Worldly Wisdom
  2. The Need of a Good Courage
  3. Temptations, and the Difference Between Experiencing Them and Consenting to Them
  4. Two Striking Illustrations of the Same
  5. Encouragement for the Tempted Soul
  6. When Temptation and Delectation are Sin
  7. Remedies for Great Occasions
  8. How to Resist Minor Temptations
  9. How to Remedy Minor Temptations
  10. How to Strengthen the Heart Against Temptation
  11. Anxiety of Mind
  12. Sadness and Sorrow
  13. Spiritual and Sensible Consolations, and How to Receive Them
  14. Dryness and Spiritual Barrenness
  15. In Illustration

Part V: Renewing and Confirming the Soul in Devotion

  1. It is Well Yearly to Renew Good Resolutions by Means of the Following Exercises
  2. Meditation on the Benefit Conferred on us by God in Calling us to His Service
  3. Examination of the Soul as to its Progress in the Devout Life
  4. Examination of the Soul's Condition as Regards God
  5. Examination of your Condition as Regards Yourself
  6. Examination of the Soul's Condition as Regards our Neighbour
  7. Examination as to the Affections of the Soul
  8. The Affections to be Excited After Such Examination
  9. Reflections Suitable to the Renewal of Good Resolutions
  10. First Consideration - On the Worth of Souls
  11. Second Consideration - On the Excellence of Virtue
  12. The Example of the Saints
  13. The Love Which Jesus Christ Bears to Us
  14. The Eternal Love of God for Us
  15. General Affections Which Should Result From These Considerations, and Conclusion of the Exercise
  16. The Impressions which should remain after this Exercise
  17. An Answer to Two Objections Which may be Made to This Book
  18. Three Important and Final Counsels

Glossary