Prayers, please, for the health of Trisha, also for her offspring:
three college students doing well! Thanks, NRN JL
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).
OK, writing as one who is 40% deaf, let me try to throw some light on
what this step is NOT. Remember that Benedictines espouse balance and
that balance should avoid both falsity and extremes. Benedictines are
also human and, without the help of good formation, or maybe even
with the encouragement of bad formation, they can fall prey to
affectation as easily as anyone else.
I have always been hard of hearing, so I have long noted a tendency
by some to interpret "not noisy" as barely audible. I hardly think
that's the case. Even talking on the phone to other OSB houses I
sometimes pick this up: the whispered inflections that one commonly
only hears in funeral parlors. Needless to say, that can set a very
funereal tone, whether it meant to or not!! Just as we should not
roar or yell when it is uncalled for, neither should we tiptoe about
whispering when there is no need.
There's a further problem here. This whispering can be and often is
learned as a purely social grace, nothing more. In other words, it
can reflect a popular behavior that has nothing to do with holiness.
Just as it is easy to feign the symptoms of illness, it is easy to
feign those of holiness or humility, too, with little or no reference
at all to the condition of goodness that ought to be their root.
Affected behavior is not humility, because it is not true. No wonder
affectation can annoy others!
So, for the last of my soapbox today, we don't yell, but we don't
whisper, either, unless such adjusted speech is truly necessary.
(Who, after all, would whisper "Fire," or "Shark,"?) We seek the
Golden Mean of carefully weighed speech that others can hear. If you
want the worst possible example of OSB sotto voce, try listening to
one hopelessly addicted to such modulation do a reading at Mass.
This, of all things, points to its silliness. At the very time when
one truly OUGHT to be heard, a fake whisper robs the Liturgy of one
of its strongest aspects, the proclamation of the Word of God. Not
only the deaf lose out, everyone beyond a yard of so of the reader is
clueless. Not what St. Benedict had in mind, folks! He made that
clear when he insisted that only those who can edify the hearers
should read, but we sometimes forget that.
Love and prayers,
jeromeleo@... St. Mary's Monastery Petersham, MA