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The Sinner’s Guide by Venerable Louis of Granada

April 8, 2014 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

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The Sinner's Guide (Week 1 of 16)

Today, five weeks into Lent, we continue the process of purifying our souls and turning our hearts and minds back to God, that we may better enjoy the springtime of Easter in the coming season.  I've no doubt The Sinner's Guide will prove an essential resource during this time.  Yes, we'll continue our exploration of The Sinner's Guide throughout the Easter season as well, but from what I understand, it will be well-worth it.

I had seen this book recommended in several places; but my desire to read it really hit home when I heard a young lady on Catholic radio speaking about how she managed to remain true to her Faith throughout her college years at a secular university, despite many temptations to lead a more carefree lifestyle.  She attributed her perseverance to the fact that her father had read The Sinner's Guide with her when she was sixteen years old, and she never forgot it.  (All I can say is “Hallelujah!” for Dads like that!!)

The content of this treasure should make for excellent discernment and discussion!  The following was taken from the back of the book:

Venerable Louis of Granada was the favorite spiritual writer of St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Fancis de Sales, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Vincent de Paul and St. Rose of Lima; and The Sinner's Guide (along with The Book of Prayer and Meditation) is one of his two most famous and most popular books.  In fact, the great St. Teresa of Avila credited The Sinner's Guide with having converted over a million souls in her own time!

“We are all destined to one or the other,” says Ven. Louis, “either to reign eternally with God in Heaven or to burn eternally with the devils in Hell.”  This inescapable fact is vividly brought to life on every page of this masterfully written book.  Utterly realistic with regard to the ultimate end of human life, Venerable Louis of Granada presents here the Four Last Things: Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell – even rehearsing with the reader the day of his death and the moment of his judgement.  His description of the despair in Hell will shake loose any desire, by even the most hardened sinner, to persevere in sin.  Man's classic excuses, such as planning to convert later and the difficulty of practicing virtue, are thoroughly demolished.  Moreover, Ven. Louis shows how the sinner's life, because of his gnawing conscience, is a continual torment to him even while still on this earth.  Whereas, the practice of virtue brings the wonderful promise of Heaven, plus the beautiful joy of a clear conscience, and the many other marvelous advantages of holiness – even here in this life!

The Sinner's Guide is a book of crystal clarity which cuts through the religious fog so prevalent today.  It strips away the glamour of sin, fortifying the soul for the resolute practice of the Christian virtues – those true riches which alone will accompany him beyond the grave.  For mastery of subject, for command of Scripture, and for total impact upon the mind and heart of the reader, there is no book which surpasses The Sinner's Guide.

At 395 pages, we'll be taking our time with this book.  I've scheduled 15 weeks, so the assignments shouldn't be too taxing.  Below is the prospective reading schedule:

Week 1   Ch. 1-3

Week 2  Ch. 4-6

Week 3   Ch. 7-9

Week 4  Ch. 10-12

Week 5  Ch. 13-16

Week 6  Ch. 17-19

Week 7  Ch. 20-23

Week 8   Ch. 24-25

Week 9   Ch. 26-27

Week 10  Ch. 28-29

Week 11    Ch. 30-33

Week 12   Ch. 34-38

Week 13   Ch. 39-40

Week 14   Ch. 41-44

Week 15   Ch. 45-48

Week 16  Conclusion

We look forward to exploring with you the issues that get to the very heart of our Faith!  Please be sure to share your thoughts in the Comment Box!

Happy Reading!!!


Reading Assignment:

Week One – Ch. 1-3


Discussion Questions:

1. Have you read The Sinner's Guide?  If so, please share your reaction, or anything we should keep in mind as we read.

2. If you haven't read the book, what do you think of the description above?  Any initial thoughts before we get started?
Read more: Previous Book Club Posts

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About Vicki Burbach

Vicki Burbach is a wife and homeschooling mother of six children ages four to sixteen years who relishes the calm inspiration of spiritual reading amidst the roller coaster of life. A passionate convert to the Faith, Vicki is an avid reader who started the book club so she could embark with like-minded bibliophiles on a spiritual journey through some of the greatest Catholic books ever written. She is author of the new book How to Read Your Way to Heaven - A Spiritual Reading Program for the Worst of Sinners, the Greatest of Saints, and Everyone in Between. You can also find her at

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  • Evelyn Wortmann

    Just found the Kindle edition for $.99 on Amazon!

    • LizEst

      Terrific! Thanks for sharing!

    • Jim Finerty

      Me too – really looking forward to this one

  • I was able to find a hard-copy (used) on Barnes & Noble for about $6. I read the notes last night about the author. Already I am inspired by his life. What struck me was the story of an atheist who carried around this book for 20 years. He said, “This book has a power over me that I cannot explain.”

  • Patti Knudsen

    I am anxious to read this book and take in the grace. Again, a book I wish I’d had earlier in my life. I, too, had a father who through his solid, moral life assisted me through those turbulent years in a secular university. I lost a beloved boyfriend over those moral standards. A real heartache. I pretty much saw life with a black and white lens then, (heaven and hell), but later fell into the grey area (somewhere between heaven and hell) where it seemed easier. I can’t say much for the years immediately following college. Yes,Louis is absolutely correct when he says “because of his gnawing conscience, is a continual torment to him even while still on this earth. Whereas, the practice of virtue brings the wonderful promise of
    Heaven, plus the beautiful joy of a clear conscience, and the many other
    marvelous advantages of holiness – even here in this life!” Ooohh…to have a perfectly clear conscience. Heaven on earth!

  • Mary_Ellen_Davis

    I am excited to start this book, “A Sinner’s Guide.” I go to Confession weekly and am intrigued by anything that may help me become more aware of sin in my life and, more importantly, help me overcome that sin. I’ve known this book was coming up for quite a while and have been seeing references to the author in books by saints I’ve been reading so my appetite for it has been whetted.

    I think I got my copy through Alibris. It is also available online at

    I’ve taken the time to apply dates to the reading schedule, in case anyone is interested, though Vicki may move some due to Memorial or Independence Days here in the US. Dates help me to stay on track.

    Week 1…..April 8-15…………..Ch. 1-3
    Week 2…..April 15-22…………Ch. 4-6
    Week 3…..April 22-29…………Ch. 7-9
    Week 4…..April 29-May 6…..Ch. 10-12
    Week 5…..May 6-13…………..Ch. 13-16
    Week 6…..May 13-20…………Ch. 17-19
    Week 7…..May 20-27…………Ch. 20-23
    Week 8…..May 27-June 3…..Ch. 24-25
    Week 9…..June 3-10………….Ch. 26-27
    Week 10…..June 10-17………Ch. 28-29
    Week 11…..June 17-24………Ch. 30-33
    Week 12…..June 24-July 1….Ch. 34-38
    Week 13…..July 1-8……………Ch. 39-40
    Week 14…..July 8-15………….Ch. 41-44
    Week 15…..July 15-22………..Ch. 45-48

    • Patti Knudsen

      Mary Ellen, I usually do this too, as it helps me stay on track….and am making a copy of yours. Thanks!

    • Steve Fraser

      Thanks so much for the EWTN link. I haven’t received the book yet but will be able to keep up with the reading schedule from your on-line link. Thanks so much!

  • FrCraig

    I’ve never read “The Sinners Guide” and have to admit that I don’t ever remembering hearing about Ven. Louis of Granada until now. I’m interested though; and even the title has a intrigue to it that invites exploration. Beginning now and reading even into the Easter Season and ending in Ordinary Time makes me think of the RCIA process: Catechumens who will continue in the Mystagogy period after Easter. They are propelled by the Joy of Easter to seek a deeper knowledge of, and a deeper relationship with, the Lord. We too, by reading past Easter and into Ordinary Time will experience a similar process of deepening. I look forward to it!

  • I must admit, I’m verrrry intimidated by this book. But hey, I’m invested in reading it now and you have a persuasive approach, Vicki… 🙂

  • Liz M

    I just bought the book and can’t im here waiting to start reading it!

  • Karin Searson

    I’ve had this book on my shelf for some time. I had started it several times, but have never stuck with it.(A lot of theology!) Perhaps reading it along with a group will help. Looking forward to beginning it again.

  • Maité Rodríguez

    I am new at this but the title got my attention. I have grown in my faith going to confession and would like to do the reading. Having the recommendation of Saints I thing is a good pitch to read it. With the help of God something will stick in me to continue the process of conversion. What more could I ask for? 🙂

  • Lynn Bares

    I have read it many years ago. I was impressed by it, but

    I think that rereading it now, in a book club setting, I am a few years older, will enjoy it all the more.

  • Ann-Marie

    It’s my first time to join this reading group, but I am excited. Just got the kindle edition and will start tonight!

  • Mary L Nelson

    I haven’t read this book before, or even heard of it. I know the graces and power of Confession and look forward to reading the book and seeing how the Holy Spirit works it into my life.

  • Steve Fraser

    I have never read this book so am looking forward to it. I just ordered it from Tan Books so I may have to play catch up since I probably won’t receive it until next week.

  • Richard Hinderliter

    I have not read this book before but looking very much forward to studying it. With Venerable Louis of Granada being the favorite spiritual writer of so many powerfully spiritual saints, I’m guessing this should be a “must read” for all desiring to grow spiritually. Getting started right now!

  • Tdwunder

    Just bought if for kindle. I look forward to reading it!

  • Jackie Vick

    I haven’t read the book (or even heard of it before) but it certainly has a prestigious fan club! If it’s as theologically dense as some have suggested, it will be a great help to go through it with a group.

  • Donna Leone

    Hi! I’m Donna. Like everyone else, I’m excited to begin this book. I started it about a year ago but put it aside because I usually have 2 or 3 books going at once… with a group to read with, I’m sure to finish it this time!

    • Donna – I’m so glad someone else has multiple books going at once. 🙂

    • Mary_Ellen_Davis

      Like you and cinhosa, I’ve got multiple books going, too: Fulfillment of All Desire (Martin), The Carmelite Way (Welch), Dark Night of the Soul (St. John of the Cross) with a companion commentary by Muto, and Prayer for Beginners (Kreeft), as well as a mystery/thriller to occasionally break up the heavy reading. Most of those I’m reading with various groups. Now I’m adding The Sinner’s Guide. Whew!

      • Donna Leone

        All great stuff!!

  • Laura Woford

    I am so excited about reading this book, because it will give me background and understanding that I didn’t know existed for two of my all time favorite saints: St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. I am anticipating growing in wisdom, love and mercy (especially towards my sinful self!). Let His light shine in through these words and this group to keep me on task. Thanks in advance to all!

  • Tom Sebastian

    I read the first three chapters. I can’t say that I am really impressed or that it has really lived up to my expectations but it does give me an idea of the unfathomable nature of God. Something I am not accustomed to thinking. It was really thought provoking in that respect and I agree thus far with much that was said.

  • What are everyone’s thoughts on the first three chapters?

    It’s been a while since I’ve read such dense text. This requires my full attention and I found that taking a more deliberate reading approach is helping my comprehension. For example, I read the first sentence in each paragraph of the chapter first to get the central points, followed by a full reading of the text.

    Like Tom S. all three chapters challenged my thinking to
    Ch. 1 – understand God’s perfection and contemplate His glory
    Ch. 2 – increase my gratitude for my life and blessings
    Ch. 3 – understand that God preserves me in ways I do not recognize

    My ego did not like the mirror that the author held up to me in pointing out my deficient thoughts. A couple of examples:

    “[the imperfect] are moved by self-interest and self-love having deep root in [our] hearts…” (pg.3)

    “So great is the selfishness of the world that there is nothing which men do not sacrifice to the gratification of the flesh, wholly forgetful of the poor, whom God has so specially recommended to their care.” (pg. 25)

    This has helped me understand what it means for me to truly be a novice in the spiritual life.

  • Steve Fraser

    Great post Jeff! I throughly enjoyed learning about Venerable Louis of Granada. I knew nothing about him prior to reading this. What an amazing man! The first three chapters were wonderful. They added yet another layer to my understanding of God and also served as a small slap in the face (wake up Steve!) as I feel I am too often guilty of taking God for granted . I suspect my face will be quite sore by the time I finish this book!

  • Terry Coy

    I read this book many years ago and it is so full of wisdom. I am looking forward to reading it again and hearing other people’s thoughts on this awesome book! The reading of this comes at a time in my family life where we really need to remember how God is in control of every aspect of our lives and how He blesses us in ways we don’t even realize.

  • Donna Leone

    I think the first 3 chapters do an excellent job of not only drawing our attention
    to how deserving our Lord is of all of our love and devotion, but how foolish we
    would be to fail to offer these to Him. How is it that we so easily forget this and stray? What are some of the best ways to keep our eyes fixed on Him? I hope
    this book will offer this needed guidance.

  • Tom Sebastian

    Just finished reading the portion for week 2. Pleased with my effort thus far and hope I maintain it.
    I am impressed with the way the author puts his argument across while making various points and feel I am far less intelligent than he is. I often have to reread portions again to fully appreciate it. All the while I am evaluating myself as a sinner, hoping and praying that this book will leave a lasting positive effect on me. At this point, having read the further motives for worshiping and loving God, I am looking for more material that will strengthen my soul in keeping in the ‘narrow straight path’. So I can say I definitely am a sinner in need of this book. Judging by what I have ‘tasted’ thus far, I have enjoyed it greatly and look forward to reading further. My expectations are very high. Aspects that talked of the beauty of the soul, improving its faculties by refraining from sin that diminishes such, and God healing the interior man really capture my interest especially since I am prone to falling for New Age teachings from time to time.

  • Debbie Ramos

    Started reading late (just into the first 3 chapters) but I hope to catch up to you all.

  • Debbie Ramos

    I finished reading the first three chapters and really like this book. But it is some ‘heavy’ stuff and I found myself really having to focus. Did anyone else have this problem? Could it be my version is the book? It’s from Tan Publishing. I like how Granada uses the quotes of other saints and nature itself to explain who and what God is and why He is deserving of our love and service.

    What stood out for me in these chapters is:

    Embrace God! Realize
    (as much as humanly possible) who He is–majesty, beauty, goodness, justice, mercy, wisdom, omnipotence, etc. Sometimes, I think how often we can imagine and accept what seems impossible in science fiction, etc., but find God so difficult to believe even in simple terms.

    God has the right to our service and honor. I’m struck by how we often have no problem bowing down to earthly kings/celebrities, etc., but forget God’s presence during Mass, for example. I suppose it’s because we cannot see him with our eyes.

    To contemplate the glory of God, man must close his eyes to earthly
    things which bear no proportion to this Supreme Being. I think we like to place limits on God but we need to realize we cannot – he is beyond limits and everything we think is impossible isn’t for God. I really liked
    the example of how the sun cannot be gazed upon because it is so bright.

    To attain happiness and perfection, God is our only recourse.

    There is just so much in these chapters to think about! I’m looking forward to reading the rest and reading your observations too. Thanks for letting me share mine with you.

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