February 8, June 9, October 9
Chapter 7: On Humility
The eleventh degree of humility
is that when a monk speaks
he do so gently and without laughter,
humbly and seriously,
in few and sensible words,
and that he be not noisy in his speech.
It is written,
“A wise man is known by the fewness of his words”(Sextus,
Enchidirion, 134 or 145).
Ah, me. Not really wanting to think about how far short of this ideal that I fall. How about you, Gentle Reader?
I’ve sat here staring at these words for 10 minutes now, thinking about all the times I have put my foot in it. It will not edify you for me to list a number of examples, but I am convicted in my heart of attention-getting that makes me nervously excited and then I babble followed by unintentional giving of offense.
Laughter was something I wrote a good bit about yesterday so I won’t repeat myself.
Benedict doesn’t want us to waste our words. He wants us to stick to the point, don’t ramble, or go off topic. This makes a lot of sense to me. Haven’t we all been annoyed by people who don’t think before they speak and just say whatever goes through their minds? Can you imagine how disastrous that would be in a monastery? It is pretty disastrous out here in the world, also.
The reference to the Enchiridion is a work by St. Augustine of Hippo.