Since its first publication in 1609 this book has never gone out of print. It has always occupied a privileged position in the Church: no guide ever written provides so complete, so balanced and so practical an approach to the spiritual life. Written for the layman surrounded by worldliness, this is a masterpiece of mystical and devotional literature, by a great and much loved Doctor of the Church. This book does what many similar books fail to do, teach the reader to grow in holiness, step by simple step. St. Francis de Sales was a master psychologist, with a special gift for teaching practical morality. His writings are characterized by sublime common sense. Even non-Christians have admired his prose. Above all, he is a spiritual genius, and thus was made a Doctor of the Church. This book is truly medicine for the soul.
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.