The Rule of Saint Benedict chapter 6

Carisma 21

 

The 6th chapter, or the 6th Rule of St. Benedict speaks about the "love of silence". It's not entirely a vow of silence, as it might initially sound. Rather it speaks of the importance of restraint in one's words ("In many words you will not elude sin", line 4), purity of one's words when we speak ("it's necessary to avoid evil speech so that punishment for sin may be avoided", line 2), as well as obedience and listening to one's superiors ("If in fact speaking and teaching are the master's task; the disciple is to be silent and listen", line 6). It forbids hurtful speech: "We absolutely condemn in all cases any triviality, vulgarity and gossip", line 8. It is also talking about the value in silence, and in quiet reflection, not sharing everything you are thinking: "there are times when good words are to be left unsaid out of esteem for silence" (line 2). St. Benedict is telling us that words are powerful, whether they are good or bad words, and they should be respectfully and carefully used: "Death and Life are within the power of the tongue" (line 5).

Rule/Chapter 6 (8 lines total):
1. Let us follow what the Prophet expresses: "I said, I have resolved to keep watch over my ways that I may never sin with my tongue. I was silent and was humbled, and I refrained even from good words."
2. Now the Prophet shows that there are times when good words are to be left unsaid out of esteem for silence, all the more then it's necessary to avoid evil speech so that punishment for sin may be avoided.
3. Indeed, so important is silence that permission to speak should seldom be granted even to perfect disciples, no matter how good or holy or constructive their talk;
4. Because it is written: "In many words you will not elude sin";
5. And elsewhere, "Death and Life are within the power of the tongue."
6. If in fact speaking and teaching are the master's task; the disciple is to be silent and listen.
7. If therefore it's necessary to ask a superior something, one asks with complete humility and respectful submission.
8. We absolutely condemn in all cases any triviality, vulgarity and gossip and exciting talk leading to laughter; and we do not permit a disciple to engage in words of that kind.