Teachers and Books

Father Guibert states: “If you are really convinced that it is necessary to receive the Word of God from without, in order that your interior life may be sustained and grow, you will seek for it wherever God offers it to you, whether on human lips or in the pages of books.”

“It is most alive when it springs forth, warm and communicative, from the hearts of pious men who draw their feelings and thoughts from God. But there are only a few who so live upon the love of God that their entire individuality is a sermon. Yet they are to be found. If God grants you the singular grace of coming across such as these, you will recognize them by this sign, that their words will seem to you as some warm breath of springtime, which brings forth in you the buds of holy desires. Allow yourself, then, to be influenced by their beneficent action. If they preach, go to hear their instructions; if they are spiritual directors, take their advice. Draw near every source that emits rays of life. Often, alas, you will hear things said which are not at all above the ordinary; but listen to them nevertheless, because of the good seed that you may perhaps gather from them.”

“Those who have the gift of awakening souls are so few and far between, and usually so difficult to get at, that you will probably be reduced to listening to the voice of God chiefly in books. If books are colder, they have the advantage of being inseparable companions; they accompany us into the deepest solitudes; and they reach us, filled as they are with the spirit of the eminent men who have written them under the inspiration of God. Hold them as your dearest friends, and know that it is God Himself who speaks to you from their pages.”

“You will not spend a single day without reading something; however busy you may be, do not allow yourself to go without it any more than you would go without your meals or your prayers. Your soul needs this sustenance; it will not be able to pray unless the word of God concentrates and enlightens and fires it.”

Quotations from Jean Guibert, On the Exercises of Piety (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1911).

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