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Kate Taliaferro reviews a new resource based on a spiritual classic, a road map to holiness for ordinary Catholics.

Saint Francis de Sales is a spiritual teacher par excellence. The instruction he offers in, Introduction to the Devout Life (Introduction for short), which was first published in 1609, is as rich and beneficial today as it was over 400 years ago. However, as with most texts of this kind of history, sometimes the phrasing can be unfamiliar. Enter The Devout Life: A Modern Guide to Practical Holiness with St. Francis de Sales by Deacon Matthew Newsome. 


Devout Life


Deacon Newsome haș carefully and thoughtfully brought Saint Francis de Sales’ timeless advice into a format that is easily accessible for anyone who wishes to learn more about the devout life. Newsome is quick to point out that this book isn’t a summary or a new translation. Rather,

It is a helpful resource, built upon the framework of Saint Francis’s Introduction, for anyone seeking to grow in devotion to God through individual or small group-study. (3)  


Newsome follows the same structure of short reflections as the original Introduction. He offers practical ideas for how to digest and better put into practice the principles Saint Francis de Sales recommends for growing in the spiritual life. There are reflection questions at the end of each 1-3 page section as well as an applicable Scripture verse which corresponds with the topic discussed. These additions lend themselves very well to individual journaling, conversations with Jesus during Adoration, or for sharing in a group setting.   

All people are called to holiness. Saint Francis de Sales wrote his Introduction to be a roadmap for everyday ordinary people to learn to lead a devout life, a life of holiness. To lead a devout life, one must practice devotion. Newsome recommends reading his book a little at a time, just one section a day. In this manner, the reader is building a habit of daily time with the Lord and considering how they are living out this calling to holiness.  

Personally, I can attest to the strength of this wisdom. This is not a book to read in a weekend. It is one you can return to again and again, especially after slowly walking through it in its entirety. There will be times in your life when specific reflections will speak more strongly to you than others. The division of sections and topics makes this book easy to reference as you go through different seasons of the spiritual life.  

The structure, the pace, the reflections, the wisdom—this book provides a solid framework for anyone who wishes to cultivate habits of listening for God’s voice in their everyday life and making concrete choices which will help them live a holier, devout life. 

Ask for The Devout Life at your local Catholic bookseller, or order online from Amazon.com or the publisher, Sophia Institute Press.




Copyright 2023 Kate Taliaferro
Images: Canva