769. As a rule, we understand that social life is founded in nature as well as all preferences. Why is absolute isolation wrong if an individual finds satisfaction in it and since all predilections are found in nature?
“This satisfaction is selfish. There are those who find satisfaction in getting drunk. Do you approve of them? God is not happy with lives that are doomed to not being useful to anyone.”
770. What should we think of those who live in complete seclusion to escape negative contact with the world?
“It is twice as selfish.”
a) But if they endure such seclusion as a form of atonement, through difficult self-deprivation, is it not praiseworthy?
“The best of all atonements is to do more good than evil. They avoid one wrongdoing but fall into another since they disregard the law of love and charity.”
771. What should we think of people who renounce the world to devote themselves to helping the poor?
“They bring about their own elevation by lowering themselves voluntarily. They have double merit for placing themselves above material pleasures, and doing good by fulfilling the law of labor.”
a) And what about those who retreat from society seeking tranquility for certain kinds of labor?
“Those who retreat from society for such a reason are not selfish. They do not isolate themselves from society, since their work is for the general good.”
772. What should we think of the vow of silence prescribed by certain religious groups since ancient times?
“You should ask yourselves whether speech is found in nature, and why God has created it. God condemns the abuse, but not the use, of the faculties that have been gifted to humankind. Silence is useful because you gather your thoughts when you practice it. Your spirit has more freedom and can enter into more intimate communication with us. However, a vow of silence is absurd. Those who view these voluntary deprivations as acts of virtue are prompted by a good intention, but they make a mistake in doing this because they do not truly understand God’s laws.”
The vow of silence, as the vow of isolation, deprives human beings of the social interactions that provide the opportunities of doing good and fulfilling the law of progress.