St-Gregory-the-DialogistIt ought to be insinuated to the over-silent that while they shun some vices unadvisedly, they are, without its being perceived, implicated in worse.

For often from bridling the tongue overmuch they suffer from more grievous loquacity in the heart; so that thoughts seethe the more in the mind from being straitened by the violent guard of indiscreet silence.

And for the most part they overflow all the more widely as they count themselves the more secure because of not being seen by fault-finders without.

Whence sometimes a man’s mind is exalted into pride, and he despises as weak those whom he hears speaking.

And, when he shuts the mouth of his body, he is not aware to what extent through his pride he lays himself open to vices.

For his tongue he represses, his mind he exalts; and, little considering his own wickedness, accuses all in his own mind by so much the more freely as he does it also the more secretly.

The over-silent are therefore to be admonished that they might study anxiously to know, not only what manner of men they ought to exhibit themselves outwardly, but also what manner of men they ought to show themselves inwardly.

They must learn to fear more a hidden judgment in respect of their thoughts than the reproof of their neighbours in respect of their speeches.

For it is written, My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my prudence, that thou mayest guard thy thoughts (Prov. 5:1).

For, indeed, nothing is more fugitive than the heart, which deserts us as often as it slips away through bad thoughts.

For hence the Psalmist says, My heart hath failed me (Ps. 39:13).

And, when he returns to himself, he says, Thy servant hath found his heart to pray to Thee (2 Sam. 7:27).

When, therefore, thought is kept under guard, the heart which was wont to fly away is found.

Moreover, the over-silent for the most part, when they suffer some injustices, come to have a keener sense of pain from not speaking of what they endure.

For, were the tongue to tell calmly the annoyances that have been caused, the pain would flow away from the consciousness.

For closed sores torment the more; since, when the corruption that is hot within is cast out, the pain is opened out for healing.

Gregory the Great (c.540-604): Pastoral Rule, 3,14.

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