A little less talk, a little more thought

(Unsplash / Scott Umstattd)

I could hear the news broadcast outside my door this morning as I sat down to talk to you about the Rule of Benedict's ninth step of humility. For the first time in my life, I not only understood the depth and beauty of it but I could also hear the social effects of ignoring it as one side harangued the other and neither side listened as well as talked.

The ninth step of humility is one of those levels of personal spiritual development that we once taught to children. Now we understand that it's adults who need to concentrate on them most. Without this kind of spiritual development in adults, children will never again have a model of human decency to depend on. Worse, they may not even realize the value of spiritual reflection in a country that purports to be a democracy.

The ninth step of humility in the sixth-century Rule of Benedict reads that "we control our tongues and remain silent, not speaking unless asked a question, for scripture warns, 'In a flood of words you will not avoid sinning' (Proverbs 10:19), and 'A talkative person goes about aimlessly on earth' (Psalm 140:12)."

Now that's what you call "straight talk." There are no caveats here as in "keep silent unless you're angry at someone" or "unless you can get the microphone and keep it from everyone else." No, just this: Silence is the better part of communication.

Read the full column at National Catholic Reporter.