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Feb 8

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  • russophile2002 <jeromeleo@earthlink.net>
    +PAX 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
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 8, 2003

      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,
      Jerome, OSB
      jeromeleo@... St. Mary's Monastery Petersham, MA
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