Omnis virtus moralis debet esse prudens: all virtue is necessarily prudent.

Only someone who is silent is listening. And only the invisible is transparent. To be sure, a deeper silence than mere abstention from speech and utterance is required. There is also interior speech which must also become mute, so things might find their proper utterance.

Thus, one who is truly listening is not “deadening” himself into an unnatural and unintellectual dumbness. His silence is also by no means an empty and dead soundlessness. In this silence there is not only listening but also answering. What the true listener forbids himself is simply this: neither to obscure the radiance of his own eye that gazes on the sun nor to allow the soul’s ability to answer (wherein lies its closest cor-“respondence” to the Source of Being) to lapse into words.

Thus, the world reveals itself to the silent listener and only to him; the more silently he listens, the more purely he is able to perceive reality.

Since reason is nothing else than the power to understand reality, then all reasonable, sensible, sound, clear, and heart-stirring talk stems from listening silence. Thus all discourse requires a foundation in the motherly depth of silence. Otherwise speech is sourceless: it turns into chatter, noise, and deception.

We lose our speech not only when we are forced down below the threshold of our being but also when we are raised up above our capacities.

Joseph Pieper (+1997) was a husband, a father, and a theologian from Germany.