This is the fifteenth in a series on St. Benedict for Beginners. – The Editors

“Saint Benedict of Nursia” by Fra Angelico

The Ninth Step to Humility

‘The ninth step of humility is that a monk should keep his tongue from talking; he should preserve silence.’

Monks are famous for their vows of silence, and there is much wisdom in the tradition. Benedict is not recommending silence for silence’s sake, but because there is so much occasion to sin in much talking.

We should be doing a constant speech assessment.

How much of our talk is positive? How much of our conversation builds up and moves forward?

Sadly, too much of our talk is idle, vulgar, impure or simply shallow and stupid. Much of our conversation is gossip, calumny, detraction and downright lies and half truths. Much of our talk is ignorant. We jump to conclusions without having the facts. We accuse others and spread poison with our tongues.

Silence is a soothing remedy.

If we cultivated silence we would not incriminate ourselves. We would avoid lies, suspicion, calumny, detraction and gossip. Through silence we would allow sweetness to grow within our hearts.

Most of all, when we cultivate silence we learn to listen to others. Our silence will help others and serve others because we are not imposing ourselves, our ideas and our words on them.

This is why Benedict links silence to humility – because through silence we serve.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker is the author of “Listen My Son” – a commentary on the Rule of St Benedict for families. Visit Fr. Dwight’s website to buy a copy here.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker is the parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenville, South Carolina. He is author of thirteen books on the Catholic faith. Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing is available in Catholic bookshops and through his website:

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