You are on page 1of 16

Chapter VI:

ON THE
SPIRIT
OF
SILENCE
Taciturnitas
Neither taciturnity nor simply silence.
Disposition to:
Keep silence
Habit and love of silence
Spirit of silence
On the Necessity of Silence
Prior Peter Funk, OSB (Monastery of
the Holy Cross:
The disciplines of obedience, restraint of
speech, and humility are necessarynot
because God is threatened by us but
because we are forgetful of God. God
tends to speak in a still, small voice,
easily crowded out by noisiness and idle
talkativeness.
"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 (Psalms 38)

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.
Since there is a danger of sinning with the
tongue and retarding our supernatural
growth, we shall be attentive to all that
passes our lips and guard them severely,
we shall know how to be silent, even when
good words are concerned.

Columbia Steward, OSB: If it is


occasionally right to refrain from saying
good things because one values silence,
there is more reason to refrain from saying bad
things because sin will be punished.
Therefore, since the spirit of silence is so
important, permission to speak should
rarely be granted even to perfect
disciples, although their conversation be
good and holy and tending to edification
"In much speaking you will not escape
sin" (Prov. 10:19) and Death and life
are in the power of the tongue (Prov.
18:21)
St. Benedicts teaching on the manner of speech
places the language firmly in the context of the
pervasive value of humility.
Delatte and McCann: Borrowing from
St. James; good conversations are only
good if they are authorized, short and
rare.

Abbot Patrick Barry, OSB (Ampleforth


Abbey): He has the view that the two
verses are pleas of moderation and self-
control.
For speaking and teaching belong to the
mistress; the disciple's part is to be silent
and to listen.

And therefore, if anything has to be asked


of the Superior, let it be done with all
humility and subjection of reverence.
Delatte and McCann: Not to require the
disciple to lessen his intercourse with his
superiors; but he knows that questions and
obligations are often put in a spirit of vainglory.
Matthew 6:7-8 : And when you pray, do not
keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they
will be heard because of their many words. Do
not be like them, for your Father knows what
you need before you ask him.
But as for buffoonery or idle words, such
as move to laughter, we utterly condemn
them in every place, nor do we allow the
disciple to open his mouth in such
discourse.
We absolutely condemn in all places any
vulgarity and gossip and talk leading to
laughter, and we do not permit a disciple
to engage in words of that kind.

Abbey of Montecassino: It forbids


hurtful speech: We absolutely condemn in
all cases any triviality, vulgarity and
gossip.
Abbot Philip Lawrance, OSB
(Monsatery of Christ in the Desert):
On the power of words. Wherein, St.
Benedict is terribly strong in
condemning gossip in the monastery
as words kill and destroy. Not only
do they kill and destroy another
person, they attack the very heart of
community: charity for one another.
Interior Silence
When our Lord wished to declare the happiness
and simplicity of contemplation. He said to
Martha,
"Martha, Martha, thou art anxious and
troubled about many things."

Point: To ascertain what really matters in life-


to prepare for the Lord or to prepare to listen,
for the Lord made himself available to hear us.
Interior Silence
The serious distractions are those which
control all our activity and lead it away from
God

Distractions: vice, anger, hatred, etc.

Point: relate this to the life of a seminarian


and a law student
Interior Silence
The fundamental purpose of silence is to free the
soul, to give it strength and leisure to adhere to God.
Silence frees the soul, just as obedience gives the will
its proper mastery.

Example of activity: Period of Grand Silence or


silentium magnum

Today, the day of the Great Silence, is a day to


withhold judgment. We are not to condemn. Enough
of that has was done yesterday. Today is a day of
acceptance and expectation. A day of reflection and
wonder
Interior Silence
It sets us little by little in a serene region where we
are able to speak to God and hear his voice.

Dom Martin Aleman describes,


"For the monks silence is not just external. Silent
monastery, noiseless environment or the likes.
Silence for monks is silence of the heart. It is where
his heart never waver no matter what he experiences.
He is stable in himself and with God even if the
environment is too noisy he can still be at peace for
he is silent in his heart. No murmurings and no what
ifs but a heart that knows how to love only."