In Fr. Faber’s Spiritual Conferences, he mentions the importance of reading for building up the spiritual life.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could just take 5 minutes of our lessons to pick up the Lives of the Saints to concentrate our minds towards God? Primary School teachers are much better than this than High School Teachers in my experience.
How many minutes, hours, days, accumulated over an academic year, have we frittered away on talking about the weather or the big game at the weekend, when we might have stolen a moment at those times to lift up Butler’s Lives?
In the first place, the mere knowledge gained by reading spiritual books, even books which are very indirectly spiritual, is of incalculable importance…
We gain time by appropriating through books the experience of others.
We learn methods which shorten roads.
We multiply our motives of action, and we infuse new vigour into old motives by understanding them better.
It is instructive to observe, that, when God is pleased to raise ignorant and illiterate persons to a high state of perfection, He infuses into them supernatural science, making them very frequently even accomplished theologians and profound expositors of Scripture ; as if knowledge must lie in the spiritual soul either as a cause or an effect of holiness, or more probably as both.
It is the common rule, that an ill-instructed person can never attain any considerable heights in devotion.
He must have, for the most part, a knowledge of spiritual things, and even some knowledge of theology.
In the next place, we must take into account the direct assistance in our combat, which we derive from reading books about God, and the soul, and the virtues or the lives of the saints.
They stir up our affections to God as we read.
They elicit by a gentle compulsion continued acts of love, or hope, or faith, or desire, or contrition.
They are like inspirations to us.
Silent divine voices leap into our souls from off the page.
Spiritual reading is itself an essential exercise.
It is a special and peculiar form of prayer, the management of which is one of the important features of our spiritual day.
Historically speaking, the reading of the lives of the saints alone has been a most energetic power of holiness in the Church for long ages.
It will almost surprise us if we make an effort to remember how much we ourselves owe, in our little efforts after spirituality, to the study of the Lives of the Saints.