Eleventh Step of Humility

The eleventh step of humility is that a monk speaks gently and without laughter, seriously and with becoming modesty, briefly and reasonably, but without raising his voice.  Rule of St. Benedict

For Saint Benedict, an inner logic holds in the ascent toward attaining true humility.  All the steps are connected in the one ladder.  And so the eleventh step seems a natural extension of the tenth step.  Saint Benedict, in this passage, not only advocates avoiding laughter; he goes further and counsels the monk to speak gently, briefly, with few words, and always with sincere modesty.

Saint Benedict is not only concerned with the inner workings of the monk, but also with his external behavior, which often becomes a reflection of his inner state.  In the spiritual life, our interior and external conduct are intimately connected.  Saint Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, gives us an insight into humility’s eleventh step: “If you are guided by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit…  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.”

Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette
Blessings of the Daily, A Monastic Book of Days

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