We cannot quantify the importance of spiritual books. As the reading of bad books fills the mind with worldly and poisonous sentiments; so, on the other hand, the reading of spiritual books fill the soul with holy thoughts and good desires
The reading of spiritual books has not only contributed to the conversion of saints, but has also given them during their whole life great help to advance continually in perfection. The glorious St. Dominic used to embrace his spiritual books, and press them to his bosom, saying, "These books give me milk." How except by meditation and the use of pious books were the hermits able to spend so many years in the desert at a distance from all human society? The great servant of God, Thomas a Kempis, could not enjoy greater consolation than remaining in a corner of his cell with a spiritual book in his hand. Venerable Vincent Carafa used to say that he could not desire a greater happiness in this world than to live in a little grotto provided with a morsel of bread and a spiritual book. St. Philip Neri devoted all the vacant hours that he could procure to the reading of spiritual books, and particularly the lives of the saints.
How many saints have by reading a spiritual book been induced to forsake the world and give themselves to God! It is known to all that St. Augustine, when miserably chained by his passions and vices was, by reading one of the epistles of St. Paul, enlightened with divine light, went forth from his darkness and began to lead a life of holiness. Thus also St. Ignatius of Loyola, while a soldier, by reading a volume of the lives of the saints which he accidentally took up in order to get rid of the tediousness of the bed to which he was confined by sickness, was led to begin a life of sanctity and became the Father and Founder of the Society of Jesus—an Order which has done so much for the Church. Thus also by reading a pious book accidentally and almost against his will, St. John Colombino left the world became a saint, and the founder of another religious Order. St. Augustine relates that two courtiers of the Emperor Theodosius entered one day into a monastery of solitaries; one of them began to read the life of St. Anthony, which he found in one of the cells. So strong was the impression made upon him that he resolved to take leave of the world. He then addressed his companion with so much fervor that both of them remained in the monastery to serve God. We read in the Chronicles of the Discalced Carmelites that a lady in Vienna was prepared to go to a festivity, but because it was given up she fell into a violent passion. To divert her attention she began to read a spiritual book that was at hand, and conceived such contempt for the world that she abandoned the world and became a Teresian nun. The same happened to the Duchess of Montalto, in Sicily. She began also by accident to read the works of St. Teresa, and afterwards continued to read them with so much fervor, that she sought and obtained her husband’s consent to become a religious and entered among the Discalced Carmelites.
For the love of Chris and for the good of our souls, I urge every Christian family to equip their homes with spiritual books, especially the lives of the saints.
The Importance of Spiritual Reading