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

“Saint Benedict of Nursia” by Fra Angelico

The Tenth Step to Humility

‘The tenth step of humility is that he should not be ready and quick to laughter, for it is written, “The fool raises his voice in laughter.’

St. Benedict is not against laughter and joy. He is against the kind of laughter that is linked with foolishness and sin.

If you have ever known a truly joyful person you will know that their laughter rings with a truth and freedom not known in other forms of laughter.

Benedict is therefore against the foolish and immature laughter that is seeking shallow entertainment at all times. He knows how often that seeking after entertainment at all costs leads to frivolity, vulgarity and coarse humor. He also knows that most often that humor ends up being at the expense of others.

So Benedict is also aware of the danger that comes with foolish laughter that descends to sarcasm and mockery which then leads to cynicism and sneering at others and at God. These attitudes have nothing to do with true, simple and loving humility.

The humble man can certainly enjoy a good joke, and the stories of many saints show them to be the merriest and most joyful of people.

At heart Benedict is about the serious business of heaven and he wants his sons to learn how to be joyful – even if that means they put a curb on lower forms of laughter.

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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