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).
Perhaps it is worth repeating here that Latin distinguishes between types of laughter and that here Benedict uses “risus” which is where we get ridicule. Benedict is not forbidding laughter out of joy. “Risus” means mockery or ridicule. We can easily see how mockery and ridicule would not only disrupt life in a communal setting but what great harm is done by it. Just remember what it was like t play in the schoolyard and have the other kids make fun of one.
That “A wise man is known by the fewness of his words” perhaps echoes what we have been discussing about the talkative people who are not stable on this earth.