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

“Saint Benedict of Nursia” by Fra Angelico

The Eleventh Step to Humility

‘The eleventh step of humility is that the monks quietly and with a few words for “the wise man is known for his few words.’

A monk is the original strong, silent type.  Benedict echoes the words of the New Testament from the epistle of James, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.”

Speaking few words means we have more time to listen to the other person. The injunction to speak few words is the negative virtue which has a positive aspect: stop and gather all the facts.

The person who is slow to speak and has only a few words has taken the time to listen to everyone else, gather all the facts and then choose his words carefully.

A monk is immersed in silence and listening. As such each word becomes precious. Each word carries a multitude of meanings. Each word is a valuable tool.

Benedict wants us to treat language as if it really matters because language is the precious gift from God to human beings. Benedict treasures this gift and does not want it abused.

Finally, there is a kind of acceptance that comes with silence. As we learn to keep our mouths shut, we also learn to see the world more deeply and appreciate others for who they are.

Silence nurtures in the heart a simple humility that eventually grows into a deep beauty of soul and mind.

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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