Tenth Step of Humility

The tenth step of humility is that he is not given to ready laughter, for it is written: “Only a fool raises his voice in laughter.” Rule of St. Benedict

This is not an easy part of the rule to interpret.  As a matter of fact, one commentator one the rule says, “Since it is a short expose, the commentary should likewise be short.”  This being said I can’t help but try to read some meaning into it, especially since I know that Saint Benedict is frugal and never wasteful in his use of words.

The first thing that comes to mind is that Saint Benedict, human as he was and always striving for moderation in all things, is not totally opposed to laughter, only to certain types of laughter that are not becoming to a spiritual person.  Take, for example, a sarcastic type of laughter that implies a certain arrogance and putting down of a neighbor.  Or the frivolous laughter that makes mockery of everything, and which again is not only a sign of intemperance but also of pride.  And certainly, it seems perfectly natural that a loud laughter would be considered totally unbecoming to a quiet, recollected spirit.  Moreover, it is usually the sign of a dissipated, scattered mind.

If the spiritual person is discouraged by Saint Benedict from exercising this sort of laughter, he says nothing whatsoever about forbidding a beautiful smile on the monk, which may reflect the peace and the joy of his union with God.  A peaceful and radiant smile can do so much to reflect the presence of God in oneself.  I think of Jesus’ apparition to his disciples after the Resurrection.  I am sure he smiled beautifully when he greeted them.  And, in many apparitions of Our Lady, such as the one at Lourdes, Bernadette often referred to her beautiful and tender smile.

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

1 Comment

  1. many people,especially women tend to laugh when they speak because it is more out of nervousness then humor.
    Many woman were taught they should not raise their voices in anger or say something rude,unlike men,A strong verbal woman would be considered the "b" word,so laughter softens the words they use,but the point was still there.

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