Sunday, June 07, 2009

Rule of St Benedict Reading for June 7, 2009

February 6, June 7, October 7

Chapter 7: On Humility

The ninth degree of humility
is that a monk restrain his tongue and keep silence,
not speaking until he is questioned.
For the Scripture shows
that "in much speaking there is no escape from sin" (Prov. 10:19)
and that "the talkative man is not stable on the earth" (Ps. 139[140]:12).

Some thoughts:

Once again, I offer Br Terence Kardong's translation of these verses. I certainly wish his translation was on line because I think it really helps to read a different translation from time to time. The only place where I know it is available is in his Commentary on the RB.

The 9th step of humility comes when a monk hold back his tongue from speaking, and out of love for silence does not speak until someone asks him a question. Scripture shows that 'In much talk, one does not escape sin', and 'The chatterbox does not walk straight on the earth.

This translation certainly helps me and I hope it helps you. Here is another place where I consistently fail. I do not hold back my tongue from speaking. I do indeed love silence in my home, in my car and I do wish televisions were not playing in every doctor's office or pharmacy I have to visit. But when it comes to conversation with others, oh how I love to talk.

Communication is important and until the advent of the Internet and email, we had letters and conversation as ways of communication. I have read that in order to preserve silence in Benedictine communities, hand signals were used. One former monk of my acquaintance told me that in his community, the hand signals were so elaborate, one could have an hour long conversation. I asked in what way this preserved the spirit of silence and he admitted it did not. What this tells me, once again, is how basic is communication to our nature. We are hard wired for it as part of the image and likeness of God in which we are created.

How do we develop a love of silence that supersedes our love of communication? This is a place where I really need to challenge myself. Have any of the rest you wrestled with this?

And doncha just love Kardong's translation in the last verse? "The chatterbox does not walk straight on the earth." It's a vivid image of someone darting hither and yon to and fro to impart bits of information. By an unspoken comparison, silence is the straight path from ourselves to our dear Lord. Would you agree?



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