Like with Cloister, Dominican Silence is not like the other forms of silence that are often observed by religious communities. For example, it’s a long way off from Carthusian observance of silence, which allows monks to come together and speak once a month. Actually, visitors to our house often remark at how loud it is – especially the laughter – during recreational time. For us, there is plenty of time for laughter. But there is also time for Silence.
I’m sometimes surprised by how strongly the Constitutions affirm the role of Silence in Dominican life, “Silence is the guardian of all observance and contributes greatly to the interior quality of religious life, to peace, prayer, the study of truth and authenticity in preaching.” (LCO 46) Given how contemplative our preaching is supposed to be, this makes sense. Our lives as preachers need to be busy – there’s a lot of work to do! – but they also need to have time for contemplation. And that contemplation is most easily done without distraction in Silence.