The Soul’s Choice of a Devout Life


1. Place thyself in the presence of God.

2. Prostrate thyself before Him, and seek His aid.


1. Once more imagine yourself in a wide plain alone with your good angel; and on the left hand behold the devil sitting on a high and lofty throne, surrounded by infernal spirits, and by a troop of worldly men who with uncovered heads acknowledge him and do homage to him, some by one sin, some by another. Examine the countenances of these unfortunate courtiers of an abominable king: some raging with hatred, passion, and envy; some murdering their neighbors; some pale, thoughtful, and absorbed in the accumulation of wealth; others engrossed in vanity and empty, useless pleasures; others corrupt and lost in their vile passions; see how all live alike without rest, without order, without grace. See how they despise one another, and how their friendship is but counterfeit. In short you see a miserable gathering, tyrannized over by an accursed king, a sight meet to move your pity.

2. On the right hand behold the crucified Saviour, who with fervent love prays for these wretches, that they may escape from their tyrant, and come to Him. Behold how He is surrounded by holy men and women and their good angels. Contemplate the beauty of the kingdom of holiness. How lovely this band of virgins, both men and women, purer than the lily; this company of widows full of holy mortification and humility; this body of husbands and wives who live in such harmony and mutual love, the fruit of charity. Consider how they unite the care of their external duties with that of their hearts, conjugal love with love of the Heavenly Spouse. Look all round; everywhere you will behold a gentle, holy, loving aspect, whilst they hearken to their Lord, and seek to retain Him within their very inmost hearts. They rejoice, but with a holy, charitable, well-regulated joy; they love one another, but with a holy, pure love. Some amongst them have sorrows, but they do not fret under them and are not discouraged, for they seek their consolation from their Saviour, and forever look up to Him.

3. You have already forsaken Satan and his pitiable company by the good desires which God has given you; nevertheless, you have not as yet attained to Jesus our King, or joined His blessed and happy company of holy men; therefore, you are still standing between the two.

4. The Blessed Virgin with St. Joseph, St. Louis, St. Monica, and thousands of those who once were living in the world, invite and encourage you.

5. The crucified King calls you by name: Come, O my beloved, come that I may crown thee.


1. O world, sad company, never will I join thy standard. I have forever forsaken thy treacheries and vanities! Proud king, infernal spirit, I renounce thee with all thy pomps, I abhor thee with all thy works.

2. And turning to Thee, O Blessed Jesus, King of eternal glory and happiness, I embrace Thee with my whole soul, I adore Thee with my whole heart. I adopt Thee as my King now and forever, and by my inviolable fidelity, I give myself up to Thee forever, I submit forever to Thy holy laws and precepts.

3. O holy Virgin, dearest Lady, thou shalt be my guide and teacher; I offer to thee my special reverence and love. O Guardian Angel, conduct me to this blessed assembly; leave me not until I attain to that happy company with whom I would say now and ever in confirmation of my choice: Jesus, be Thou my Lord forever!

This article is taken from a chapter in An Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales, which is available from TAN Books.



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