"The tongue holds the key to life and death."
An essential aspect of the monastic life is the cultivation of silence and interiority in the life of the monk. An atmosphere of silence in the monastery allows for the development of a listening and reflective relationship with God. It also means that when a monk speaks he is more likely to have a serious reason for speaking. Although Benedictines do not take a vow of silence, which is a common misconception, they employ silence as a tool to discipline themselves to listen, not only to God, but also to the needs of others. Silence cultivates a mindfulness of the words which the monk uses when he does speak. This mindfulness is helpful to the individual in avoiding vulgar or hurtful speech, in particular murmuring and gossip. In short, the absence of unnecessary talking prevents destructive speech which could divide or divert the monastic community from its goal of being centered on Christ and living together as one mind and one voice in the praise and service of God.