In The Beautiful Mystery, Inspector Gamache is called to an isolated monastery to find who murdered one of the monks. The monks have taken a vow of silence, though occasionally they are allowed to speak and they sing beautifully. Few people know the monastery exists, or even that their order–the Gilbertines–still exists.
Given the isolation, the murderer is obviously one of their twenty-four members. Given the vow of silence, Gamache finds the monks reluctant to answer questions or aid the investigation.
Over dinner, the old abbot rises and addresses the monks:
“Our order has been tested over the centuries. And this is another test. Do we really believe in God? Do we believe all the things we say and sing? Or has it become a faith of convenience? Has it, in splendid isolation, grown weak? When challenged we simply do whatever is easiest. Do we sin by silence? If we have real faith then we must have the courage to speak up. We must not protect the killer.”
–Louise Penny, The Beautiful Mystery, page 97
I’m not investigating a mystery, nor am I a monk. But I find this passage challenging and as applicable to myself as much as the isolated Gilbertines.
Do I believe all the things I say I do?
Do I do whatever is easiest?
Do I sin by silence?