In Summa of the Christian Life, Fr. Jordan Aumann, O.P., presents a collection of excerpts—arranged according to the topics of the Summa Theologica—from Venerable Louis of Granada's greatest works, including his Book of Prayer and Meditation, Sinner's Guide, Memorial of the Christian Life, Introduction to the Creed, and Compendium and Explanation of Christian Doctrine, along with a short biography of this saintly preacher.
One of the most prominent and exceptional spiritual teachers of the sixteenth century, Venerable Louis stands as a master of the spiritual life throughout the whole Christian tradition. Born in extremely poor circumstances, his mother was widowed when he was five, and the pair subsisted on alms gathered from outside the gate of a Dominican priory. Eventually, Louis became a Dominican himself, and began a career of preaching that resulted, at length, in traveling throughout Spain and Portugal. He attained—despite the humble friar's best efforts—various posts in the Order of Preachers and served at courts of nobles and the queen regent of Portugal. He was offered bishoprics and the cardinalate, but declined all offers.
He suffered much in his life, accused by the Spanish Inquisition of heresy unjustly; he was later vindicated by the Council of Trent and the witness of subsequent saints. Indeed, he counts among his readers and recommenders such pillars of sanctity as St. Rose of Lima, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Louise de Marillac, and St. Francis de Sales, who recommended Venerable Louis's work be read as a "second Breviary." Venerable Louis's Sinner's Guide has been compared to The Imitation of Christ for its breadth, intensity, and usefulness for devotion and has been translated into Italian, French, German, Polish, Latin, and Greek. Some of his books have even made it into Turkish and Japanese. But Venerable Louis's primary mission, quite unusually for his time, was to write and preach for the laity. Indeed, a disapproving observer said Venerable Louis wrote for "wives of carpenters," maybe forgetting who the Blessed Virgin was. Let, then, the words of this venerable Spanish preacher illuminate your heart with the light of Christ, speaking, as it were, straight from the bosom of the Master.
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