This is a continuation of the the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God, the previous posts are available in the archives to the right. This is step 54.
(54) Not to speak useless words and such as provoke laughter.
Benedict has a great concern for the choice of our speech, reflecting Our Lord's injunction in the Gospel to "let you no mean no and your yes mean yes." Most of us suffer from an endless chatter that means little and lessens the effectiveness of our speech in general. There is a further clarification here and we are warned not to "provoke laughter."
Is Benedict condemning humor or is this a warning not to appear silly to others? I think it is the latter.
Someone who talks endlessly might make others laugh at him or her but they probably will not be taken seriously. The danger here is that speech exists to communicate the truth and when it is not used specifically for that we misuse this great gift.
Benedict warns us not to use "useless words." Words are powerful weapons and gentle comforters if they are used correctly. But when speech is misused it lessens its effective use at anytime.
Another way of stating this maxim might be, "choose your words carefully and sparingly."
The Gospel of John identifies Jesus as the "Word made Flesh." There is a connection here with all the words that come from our mouth too. We should ever be mindful of The Word when a word comes to our lips.