On Restraint in Speech
24/September/2007 Filed in: Chapter Talks
Benedict's sixth chapter, which we begin reading today, is more than just a bald summary of the uses and abuses of speech. It is a reminder of the necessity of silence in our lives. We need physical silence just as we need sleep: to process what is going on around us, to recoup our energy, to confront those aspects of ourselves we spend a lot of time trying to avoid. We also need moral silence, abstention even from good things, to allow the life of the Spirit to grow in us. But we can find all sorts of ruses to dodge that kind of silence, pretending that we are quiet simply because we are not actually speaking and ignoring the fact that we spend an inordinate amount of time reading the newspaper/writing emails/or whatever our form of interior noisiness takes. We can also abuse silence by assuring ourselves that we are "observing the rule of silence" when charity demands that we speak "the good word which is above the best gift". Silence as laziness, evasion and cowardice is not at all what Benedict meant.