St. Francis de Sales, in his Tenth Meditation (1.18) found in his Introduction to the Devout Life, leads us to way of choosing the devout life. This reflection should be done in the morning (plan on 20–30 minutes). Some practical comments have been added to the text in italics.
How the Soul chooses the Devout Life.
- PLACE yourself in the Presence of God. Imagine that you are in a room with Christ.
- Humble yourself before Him, and ask His Aid. While you are in the room with Christ, think about your lowliness—He is the King of Heaven—and ask Him to help you in your prayer and in all the areas of life that you are in need.
- Once more imagine yourself in an open plain, alone with your guardian Angel, and represent to yourself on the left hand the Devil sitting on a high and mighty throne, surrounded by a vast troop of worldly men, who bow bareheaded before him, doing homage to him by the various sins they commit. Study the countenances of the miserable courtiers of that most abominable king:—some raging with fury, envy and passion, some murderous in their hatred;—others pale and haggard in their craving after wealth, or madly pursuing every vain and profitless pleasure;—others sunk and lost in vile, impure affections. See how all alike are hateful, restless, wild: see how they despise one another, and only pretend to an unreal self-seeking love. Such is the miserable reign of the abhorred Tyrant.
- On the other hand, behold Jesus Christ Crucified, calling these unhappy wretches to come to Him, and interceding for them with all the Love of His Precious Heart. Behold the company of devout souls and their guardian Angels, contemplate the beauty of this religious Kingdom. What lovelier than the troop of virgin souls, men and women, pure as lilies:—widows in their holy desolation and humility; husbands and wives living in all tender love and mutual cherishing. See how such pious souls know how to combine their exterior and interior duties;—to love the earthly spouse without diminishing their devotion to the Heavenly Bridegroom. Look around—one and all you will see them with loving, holy, gentle countenances listening to the Voice of their Lord, all seeking to enthrone Him more and more within their hearts.
They rejoice, but it is with a peaceful, loving, sober joy; they love, but their love is altogether holy and pure. Such among these devout ones as have sorrows to bear, are not disheartened thereby, and do not grieve overmuch, for their Saviour’s Eye is upon them to comfort them, and they all seek Him only.
- Surely you have altogether renounced Satan with his weary miserable troop, by the good resolutions you have made;—but nevertheless you have not yet wholly attained to the King Jesus, or altogether joined His blessed company of devout ones:—you have hovered betwixt the two. Think deeply about the two images, the one of the devil upon his worldly throne and the crowd of wretched souls, subdued by the sickness of sin, the other of the crucified Christ and his joyful saints in bliss and happiness. Now realize that you are in between both images. You are neither with the devil nor with the blessed and their Christ.
- The Blessed Virgin, S. Joseph, S. Louis, S. Monica, and hundreds of thousands more who were once like you, living in the world, call upon you and encourage you. In your mind see the Blessed Virgin, Saint Joseph, your patron saint, and all the saints and angels calling you to come and choose life and happiness and peace. Choose the Lamb who was slain!
- The Crucified King Himself calls you by your own name: “Come, O my beloved, come, and let Me crown thee!”. Imagine yourself looking upon the Crucified King, and he sees you, even among the crowds of saints and angels. He looks directly at you with loving eyes, eyes that know all your secrets, and he speaks quietly yet forcefully to your heart. Only you hear it, and he beckons you to come, come to Him.
- PRAY ALOUD: “O world, O vile company, never will I enlist beneath thy banner; for ever I have forsaken thy flatteries and deceptions. O proud king, monarch of evil, infernal spirit, I renounce thee and all thy hollow pomp, I detest thee and all thy works.”
- PRAY ALOUD: “And turning to Thee, O Sweet Jesus, King of blessedness and of eternal glory, I cleave to Thee with all the powers of my soul, I adore Thee with all my heart, I choose Thee now and ever for my King, and with inviolable fidelity I 51 would offer my irrevocable service, and submit myself to Thy holy laws and ordinances.”
- PRAY ALOUD: “O Blessed Virgin Mother of God, you shall be my example, I will follow you with all reverence and respect.”
- PRAY ALOUD: “O my good Angel, bring me to this heavenly company, leave me not until I have reached them, with whom I will sing for ever, in testimony of my choice, “Glory be to Jesus, my Lord!””