The Devout Life is for Everyone, Without Exception

September 8, 2021 • 2 min

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page n9

Almost all those who have hitherto treated of devotion have had the instruction of persons wholly retired from the world in view, or have taught a kind of devotion leading to this absolute retirement: whereas my intention is to instruct such as live in towns, in households, or in courts, and who, by their condition, are obliged to lead, as to the exterior, an ordinary life, and who frequently, under the pretext of a pretended impossibility, will not even think of undertaking a devout life, believing, that as no animal dares to taste the seed of the herb called Palma Christi, so no man ought to aspire to the palm of Christian piety so long as he lives in the turmoil of worldly affairs.

Now, to such persons I shall make it appear that, as the mother-of-pearl oyster lives in the sea without taking in a drop of salt-water; and as, near the Chelidonian islands, springs of fresh water may be found in the midst of the sea; and as the firefly moves through the flames without singeing its wings; even so, a vigorous and resolute soul may live in the world without being infected by any of its contaminations, may discover sweet springs of piety amidst its bitter waters, and may fly through the flames of earthly concupiscences without burning the wings of the holy desires of a devout life.

This, it is true, is a difficult task, and therefore I could wish that many would endeavour to accomplish it with more ardour than has been hitherto used; and I, weak as I am, shall endeavour by this treatise to contribute some kind of help to those who, with a generous heart, undertake so worthy an enterprise.

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