“Could there be anyone who does not realize just how perilous it is to give one’s loyalty to this passing and inconstant world—which, sooner or later, casts down all those whom it raises up, and eventually takes away all that it gives?”
For many people, the name of Cardinal Richelieu will immediately call to mind the ambitious and cynical villain of Alexander Dumas’s The Three Musketeers and its many cinematic adaptations. But the real Cardinal Armand Jean du Plessis, Duke of Richelieu (1585–1642), was a very different person than this fictional portrayal. A prelate of great sanctity, learning and wisdom, and an ardent devotee of the Mother of God, he lived in a profoundly turbulent era, when all of Europe (including France) was shaken by religious and political unrest. This man of God and servant of the people labored tirelessly to ensure the flourishing of the Catholic Church and the Kingdom of France, both of which he loved dearly.
Cardinal Richelieu, who was a close friend of Pope Urban VIII and a key proponent of the reforms of the Council of Trent, was also an extremely popular spiritual author in his day. His timeless but long-forgotten masterpiece the Treatise on Perfection, presented here in English for the first time, overflows with wise insights and helpful guidance for nourishing a fruitful and sustainable spiritual life, particularly for those who are trying to balance prayer and devotion with complex and demanding secular responsibilities (as he himself did so successfully.) Cardinal Richelieu believed that the humble and diligent fulfillment of one’s proper and legitimate duties in society is the single most important moral responsibility of the Christian, and also often the most effective form of prayer.
This work also outlines the nine tortures of hell according to Saint Augustine, the joys of heaven, distractions at prayer, twenty spiritual counsels, and much more. Here is a book that will stir your heart to love God above everything by cultivating piety, virtue, and moderation in whatever state of life you are called to. Here is a book that pulls wisdom from some of the greatest saints to help you become a saint.
- Cardinal Armand Jean du Plessis
- Fr. Robert Nixon