Keeping Custody of One’s Words

Picture of girl walking and quote about silence being better than hurtful words.

“To keep custody of one’s mouth
against depraved speech,
not to love excessive speaking.”
(Rule of Benedict 4.51-52)

Unwary speech generates rifts in relationships or community, leading to discouragement and discontent. Harsh words may be stem from some other, unrelated situation. StBenedict often tells monks not to grumble or speak ill of each other.  Monastic leaders should “not be excitable” and able to restrain their speech even in trying events.

One who loves excessive speaking loves listening less, whether to God or others.  She risks being a gossip, critic, grumbler, or know-it-all.  StBenedict’s favorite cure-all is silence. Better to notice that one’s words are needed, and speak them, than to see that they were harmful and regret them.


Tooling Through Lent is a series of brief reflections on Chapter 4 of the Rule of Benedict, The Tools for Good Works.

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About Sister Edith

Benedictine sister of St. Scholastica Monastery, Duluth, Minnesota
This entry was posted in Benedictine, Lent, Monastic Way of Life, Rule of St Benedict and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Keeping Custody of One’s Words

  1. This is a difficult one to abide by.

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