1. We are taught by words, and we are attracted by examples. Speech is a wonderful gift from God. By means of it we photograph our thoughts, as it were, and communicate them to others. We express our wishes and our commands; we give life and colour to the innermost feelings of the heart. We can employ the spoken word to do great good or to do great evil. We can teach and educate, or we can deceive and corrupt.
Speech is an extraordinary gift, and one day we shall have to render God a strict account of it. Learn from the Saints. They understood perfectly that they would have to account not only for evil or deceitful words, but that of every idle word men speak, they shall give account on the day of judgment (Mt. 12:36). For this reason their conversation was always impregnated with divine wisdom. By their instruction and advice they raised men's minds to an appreciation of heavenly truths and encouraged them to practice virtue. They did this not only by word, but also by example. Their own lives were a complete theoretical and practical model which led others to sanctity.
2. Sacred Scripture says of Jesus that he did and taught (Acts 1:1). We should reflect on these words. Very often we come across thinkers who teach but do nothing. Sometimes they even act contrary to their own precepts, and then their work is futile and harmful. Many unfortunate young men are the victims of false ideas and bad examples of their teachers. It was not so with Jesus, nor was it so with the Saints, His faithful followers. We can learn much from their writings, and still more from their example. For this reason we should read about their lives. People read so many books and reviews which teach them nothing, and many others which arouse their lower instincts and smother their high ideals. A good Christian should read The Lives of the Saints as well as those books which it is his duty to know. The highest and most useful school of learning for a sincere Christian is the reading of the Gospel and The Lives of the Saints.
3. If we read The Lives of the Saints, we cannot fail to be inspired by their example. We shall learn the burning love of God from the missionary zeal of St. Paul, who feels that he himself has ceased to live, but that Jesus Christ lives in him. We shall learn detachment from worldly things and the love of holy poverty from St. Francis of Assisi. We shall learn from St. Theresa and St. Philip Neri to love God alone, and from St. Francis de Sales peace of mind in the midst of misfortune. We shall learn to love purity more than life itself from St. Aloysius Gonzaga and St. Maria Goretti. We can learn so many good and beautiful things from the lives of those whom the Church has elevated to her Altars. Let us read these lives with humility and devotion. We shall be happier and better as a result of our reading.