The Structure and Purpose of This Book

September 10, 2021 • 2 min

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page n11
By St. Francis de Sales

I address my discourse to Philothea, because, desiring to reduce what I at first had written for one only, to the common advantage of many souls, I make use of a name applicable to all such as aspire to devotion; for the Greek word, Philothen, signifies a soul loving, or in love with, God.

Regarding, then, throughout this work, a soul which, by the desire of devotion, aspires to the love of God, I have divided it into five parts.

  1. In the first, I endeavour, by remonstrances and exercises, to convert the simple desire of Philothea into an absolute resolution, which she at last makes, by a firm protestation, after her general confession, followed by the most Holy Communion; in which, giving herself up to her Saviour, she happily enters into his holy love.

  2. Then, in the second part, I try to lead her farther on; I show her the two great means whereby she may unite herself more and more to his Divine Majesty, viz., the use of the sacraments, whereby God comes to us, and holy prayer, by which He attracts us to Himself.

  3. In the third, I show her how she ought to exercise herself in the virtues most proper for her advancement; not stopping, except at some particular advices, which she could hardly have received elsewhere, or discovered herself.

  4. In the fourth part, I expose some of the ambushes of her enemies to her view, showing her how she may escape them, and proceed forward in her laudable undertaking.

  5. In the fifth, and last, I make her retire a little to refresh herself, recover breath, and repair her strength, that she may afterwards more happily gain ground, and advance in a devout life.

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