This Book Written that Both He and We May Become Devout

September 13, 2021 • 3 min

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page n15

It is true, dear reader, that I here write of a devout life, without being myself devout—yet certainly not without a desire of becoming so, and that it is this affection towards it which encourages me to instruct thee.

For as a great and learned man has said: “To study is a good way to learn; to hear, is a still better; but to teach, is the best of all.”

“It often happens,” said St. Augustin, writing to the devout Florentina, “that the office of distributing gives us the merit of receiving; and that the office of teaching serves as a foundation for learning.”

Alexander caused the picture of the fair Campaspé to be drawn by the hand of the celebrated Apelles, who, being forced to look upon her for a considerable time together, as fast as he drew her features in his picture the love of them became insensibly imprinted in his heart, which, coming to the knowledge of Alexander, he, taking pity on him, gave her to him in marriage, depriving himself, for his sake, of the woman whom he loved the most in the world: in which action, saith Pliny, he showed the greatness of his mind, as much as he could have by the most signal victory.

Now I am of opinion, beloved reader, that it is the will of God that I, being a bishop, should paint upon the hearts of his people, not only common virtues, but also his most dear and well-beloved devotion.

And I willingly undertake the office, as well in obedience to Him, and to discharge my duty, as with the hope that by engraving it on the minds of others, my own may become holily enamoured with its beauty. ​Now, if ever the Divine Majesty shall see me passionately in love with it, He will give it to me in an eternal marriage.

The fair and chaste Rebecca, watering Isaac’s camels, was destined to be his wife, and received, on his part, golden ear-rings and bracelets. Thus do I flatter myself, through the infinite goodness of God, that, in conducting his dear sheep to the wholesome waters of devotion, He will make my soul his spouse, putting in my ears the golden words of his holy love, and on my arms the strength to practise good works, in which consists the essence of true devotion; which I humbly beseech his Majesty to grant to me and to all the children of his Church, to which I for ever submit my writings, my actions, my words, my thoughts, and my inclinations.

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