Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

Of Silence

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Let us act in conformity with that saying of the Prophet: "I said I will guard my ways lest I sin with my tongue; I have put a bridle on my mouth; I was dumb and was humbled and kept silence from good things." Here the prophet shows that if we ought at times for the sake of silence to refrain even from good words, much more ought we to abstain from evil words on account of the punishment due to sin. (Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 6)

Do you listen or do you talk too much -- to obsession? We must all ask this. In our time, there's a plague of chatter. There's talk at home, on the radio, on TV, in the car, at work, on the cell. Talk, talk, and more talk; many are those who do more than their share of it. It is a good way to avoid thinking or praying.

We have to be cautious not to be one of those who speak incessantly because it can indicate inner disquiet that is spiritual.

Not all the time. Sometimes, we simply have much to tell. Or we are excited. Perhaps we're lonely.

But when talking too much is done on a constant basis -- when it's habitual, when one person won't let another get in a word edgewise -- it sends a message that the talkative one thinks he or she is the only one with something interesting to say.

Humility listens while ego chatters away.

Sometimes, it's out of nervousness. Just a bad habit. Nothing so evil there.

But when we always talk too much it is often about ourselves (which indicates pride) or about the negatives of others (the sin of gossip). When a conversation goes on too long, consider how much is repetition. We repeat and repeat, as if to escape. When we repeat, it's like spinning our tires -- and when it's something negative, it's like tossing mud.

Do we step back and analyze what we are talking about and how much of it is uplifting (as opposed to how much reflects poorly on others)?

When we're talking on and on, we're learning nothing. It is what you already know (unless you are asking questions). Peace of mind leaves through the mouth. From purity we stray. When we're talking we're usually not thinking of God.

James 3:6 warns that "the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell." Let those who have ears listen! The ear that is cocked is on a head full of wisdom.

Also, when we speak too much it translates to our thoughts. There is a mental "loudness" -- a din -- through which we can't hear the "still, small voice" of God.

The Lord has a soft manner and often we drown it out with our internal dialogue. Do you chatter on and on, even in prayer -- or wait with a peaceful, quiet heart? Are you sincere about wanting to hear from Him? When you pray, do you really look for His guidance? Do you allow God to answer your questions (or, unable to stop talking, do you form God's answer for Him; do you try to make Him say what you want to hear)?

If so, it's the devil who answers.

It is an important exercise in self reflection, and it may save you tremendous future trouble: Are you open to what the Lord has to say, or are you too impatient -- zipping on to other things (such as your own preconceptions) to receive what He wants to send, which can be astonishing guidance? Often, God surprises. Let Him.

There are so many mysteries in life!When we die, we'll be amazed at our missions. We'll be amazed at the effect of our words. We'll be astonished at the effect of our thoughts (internal dialogue). Ask God what your mission is. Ask how you should handle a problem. But don't prefigure what the Holy Spirit may say. When Jesus came, it was a silent night (not one filled with the clamor of talk).

It's why places of worship are places of silence.

When we listen, God listens. There is one grace after another. If we quietly humble ourselves, we have God's ear. We also have His voice. Mainly, He speaks to our intuitions.

Be open. Be full of prayer. Be patient. But watch your tongue (always). Wait in the quietness of love. Meditate. Reflect -- slowly, with patience. Chatter not and His answers (when they come, where they come, in His time) will be loud enough to "hear" and will always be astonishing.

Original Post: Michael Brown

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