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All writers on the spiritual life uniformly recommend, nay, command under penalty of total failure, the practice of silence. And yet, despite this there is perhaps no rule for spiritual advancement more inveighed against, by those who have not even mastered its rudiments, than that of silence. Even under the old Dispensation its value was known, taught, and practised. Holy Scripture warns us of the perils of the tongue, as "Death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Proverbs 18:21). Nor is this advice less insisted on in the New Testament; witness: "If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man" (St. James 3:2 sq.). The same doctrine is inculcated in innumerable other places of the inspired writings. The pagans themselves understood the dangers arising from unguarded speech. Pythagoras imposed a strict rule of silence on his disciples; the vestal virgins also were bound to severe silence for long years. Many similar examples could be quoted.
Silence may be viewed from a threefold standpoint:
Holy Bible, especially Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiasticus, and Catholic Epistle of St. James; Thomas à Kempis, Imitation of Christ; Holsteinius, Codex Regularum quas S. Patres Monachis et Virginibus prascripere (Paris, 1663), St. Benedict, Holy Rule, in particular chaps. vi and vii; Schott, Fundamentder Grundrisse der Vollokommenheit (Constance, 1680); Rodriguez, Christian Perfection (London, 1861).
APA citation. (1912). Silence. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13790a.htm
MLA citation. "Silence." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13790a.htm>.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by William J. Rosini.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.
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