The abbot of a monastery called a novice into his office and instructed him to give the sermon at the next morning’s chapel.
The novice was struck with fear. The next morning, chapel came. He stood in the pulpit. The brothers were there. His hands were trembling. His knees were knocking. His voice was quivering. There was a long pause before he first spoke, and then he asked a question. “Do you know what I’m going to say?”
They had no idea, so all of their heads went back and forth almost in unison, as if it were choreographed. He said, “Neither do I. Let’s stand for the benediction.”
The next day was almost an exact repeat of the day before. All the brothers sat there before him. His hands shook. His knees knocked. His voice trembled. Long pause. “Do you know what I’m going to say?” he asked.
Well, after the previous day’s experience, they had a pretty good idea. So all of their heads nodded yes.
“Then there’s no need for me to tell you. Let’s stand for the benediction.”
The abbot was angry beyond description. He brought the young man into his office and said, “If you do that again, you are going to be in solitary confinement, eat bread and water for thirty days, and receive any other punishment I can think of. Tomorrow morning give the sermon; do it right.”
The third day, chapel attendance hit an all-time high. Everyone was there to see what he would say, and it was almost an exact repeat. He stood, trembling, voice quivering, and after a long silence asked, “Do you know what I’m going to say?”
After three days of this, about half of them had a pretty good idea and they nodded their heads yes.
The other half noticed the switch from day to day, and they weren’t sure what to expect, and so they shook their heads no.
The novice observed this and said, “Let those who know tell those who don’t. Let us stand for the benediction.”