The Sinner's Guide
Publication Date: March 28, 2016
Venerable Louis of Granada was the favorite author of St. Teresa of Avila, St. John on the Cross, St. Francis de Sales and many others.
Among the hundreds of eminent ascetical writers of Spain, Louis of Granada remains unsurpassed in the beauty and purity of his style, the solidity of his doctrine, and the popularity and influence of his writings. Besides ascetical theology, his published works treat of Scripture, dogma, ethics, biography, and history. He is best known, however, for his ascetical writings.
The appreciation of their worth extended throughout Europe, and later to America, and their popularity still remains but little impaired after the passage of four hundred years. Nearly all of these works were translated into the various European languages and several into Turkish and Japanese.
The best known of his ascetical writings, and the one that achieved the greatest measure of success, is "The Sinner's Guide". It is marked by a smooth, harmonious style of purest Spanish idiom which has merited for it the reputation of a classic, and by an unctuous eloquence that has made it a perennial source of religious inspiration. It has been most favorably compared with à Kempis's "Imitation of Christ".
St Rose of Lima's favorite book by Louis was The Book of Prayer and Meditation—a book that laments the miseries of life and manifests spiritual contempt for the world. Once, it was said, she banished the devil's temptations by reading this book, causing the devil to snatch the book from her and throw it onto a rubbish heap. Rose remained calm, certain that the Lord would return it to her, and she got it back.
Other famous Catholics who have read and loved the works of Louis of Granada include St. Vincent de Paul, St. Louis de Marillac, Cardinal Berulle, and Jaques-Benigne Bossuet, St Charles Borromeo, Louis of Leon, and the Jesuit and Barnabite Orders. St. Teresa of Avila read his books and commanded her nuns to do so.
St Francis de Sales highly commended to a bishop-elect to have the whole works of Louis of Granada, and to regard them as a second breviary. He advised him to read them carefully, beginning with The Sinner's Guide. He said, "But to read him with fruit you must not run through him hastily; he must be pondered, and have his full weight, and chapter after chapter must be mused upon and applied to the soul with much thought and prayer to God. You must read him with reverence and devotion, like a book containing the most useful inspirations man can receive from on high, and thereby reform all the powers of the soul."