Prayers, please, Spencer, 5, cancer in neck, for Dr. Shagetts, who is
treating him, for his Mom, who also had cancer and is on chemo, for
the whole family, too. This is so hard on them. God's will is best.
All is mercy and grace. Thanks so much. JL
January 24, May 25, September 24
Chapter 6: On the Spirit of Silence
Let us do what the Prophet says:
"I said, 'I will guard my ways,
that I may not sin with my tongue.
I have set a guard to my mouth.'
I was mute and was humbled,
and kept silence even from good things" (Ps. 38:2-3).
Here the Prophet shows
that if the spirit of silence ought to lead us at times
to refrain even from good speech,
so much the more ought the punishment for sin
make us avoid evil words.
Therefore, since the spirit of silence is so important,
permission to speak should rarely be granted
even to perfect disciples,
even though it be for good, holy edifying conversation;
for it is written,
"In much speaking you will not escape sin" (Prov. 10:19),
and in another place,
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Prov. 18:21).
For speaking and teaching belong to the mistress;
the disciple's part is to be silent and to listen.
And for that reason
if anything has to be asked of the Superior,
it should be asked
with all the humility and submission inspired by reverence.
But as for coarse jests and idle words
or words that move to laughter,
these we condemn everywhere with a perpetual ban,
and for such conversation
we do not permit a disciple to open her mouth.
Ever wonder why speech is considered so dangerous? Because it can
build up the false self, the very false self that we are trying to
tear down with our other hand. I have, to my shame, reveled in a
flame war or two. I got JUST the right zinger and aimed it
mercilessly. Once an astute lister commented that I had shot the
olive branch of peace with a crossbow! Ouch! He was so right!
I don't know about everyone, but I can be terribly pleased with
myself over such things, things of which I should in fact be ashamed.
Our arms can easily reach to the shoulders of that false self,
patting it on the back and congratulating it for hours afterwards.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. The false self will grow and thrive badly enough
on our own. Why on earth would we wish to offer it any unwitting
Let me speak for myself, here. Probably 90% of what comes out of my
mouth other than prayer is unnecessary. A further per centage I am
afraid to even stab at is downright harmful to me. I don't imagine I
am terribly far from average in this respect. And talk about damage
from second-hand speech. There are LOTS of things I wish I had never,
ever heard. Wow, if only we would guard silence as zealously as smoke-
free zones. Wouldn't that be right in line with fearing that which
can destroy the soul more than that which kills the body alone? I
seem to recall some Guy having something to say along those lines.
We aren't Trappists in the world. We cannot control our spaces as if
they were monasteries, but we can and must control our own mouths.
Total silence would likely be read as uncaring rudeness, but what
about some alternative forms of silence? What if one resolved to
speak not at all, all day, except in words of kindness, mercy or
support, to never open one's mouth except to affirm.
Now there's a thought. Could I have a seat in the no-griping section,
please? Pursue that line of thinking, be creative. Fast for a week
from contention and see what happens. Try a day of not talking at all
about yourself. Try a whole day of asking others about themselves!
One way or another, increase the levels of good one can do with
speech and diminish those of harm.
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Prov. 18:21)"
Not just the tongue, folks, but the keyboard and any other writing
instrument, too! Serenity cannot coexist with meanness of thought,
word or deed. Doesn't happen. Serenity can be held only in a field of
Love and prayers,