Thursday, August 31, 2006


Temperance is one of the "cardinal" virtues along with prudence, justice, and fortitude. These virtues are "hinge" virtues around which all the others are grouped. Temperance is "all moderation in the use of earthly values." (1)

In patristic tradition, the cardinal virtues are treated as elements of every other true virtue. "No prudence is genuine unless just, courageous, and temperate; no temperance is perfect unless strong, just, and prudent; no courage is complete unless prudent, temperate, and just; and no justice is true unless prudent, strong, and temperate." (2)

"Temperance ensures the will's mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable. The temperate person directs the sensitive appetites toward what is good and maintains a healthy discretion: 'Do not follow your inclination and strength, walking according to the desires of your heart.' Temperance is often praised in the Old Testament: "Do not follow your base desires, but restrain your appetites." (3)

St. Augustine tells us "To live well is nothing other than to love God with all one's heart, with all one's soul and with all one's efforts; from this it comes about that love is kept whole and uncorrupted (throught temperance). No misfortune can distrub it (and this is fortitude). It obeys only God (and this is justice), and is careful in discerning things, so as not to be surprised by deceit or trickery (and this is prudence). (4)


"My son, while you are well, govern your appetite so that you allow it not what is bad for you; for not every food is good for everyone, nor is everything suited to every taste. Be not drawn after every enjoyment, neither become a glutton for choice of foods, For sickness comes with overeating, and gluttony brings on biliousness. Through lack of self-control many have died, but the abstemious man prolongs his life." Sirach 37:26-30

"The grace of God has appeared, offering salvation to all men. It trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires, and live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age as we await our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of the great God and of our Savior Christ Jesus." Titus 2:11-14


O, good Jesus, within Thy wounds hide me.


O gentle Jesus, who didst suffer agonizing thirst on the Cross to atone for the many sins that would be committed through the sense of taste, accept my sorrow for all my lack of mortification and my many sins in this regard. Thou didst bestow on us so many things which we did not deserve that it should be impossible even to think of offending Thee by misusing them in any way. And yet our ingratitude reaches even so far that we have been unwilling to share in the smallest way the many and great privations of Thy own life and death, and have rebelled against Thy commandments and Thy Church in gratifying excessively the appetites Thou hast given us. Let me atone for my own sins of the past by acquiring strong habits of mortification,and let me make reparation for the many sins of gluttony and drunkenness in the world by penance and self-denial. O Mary, Mother of Christ, obtain for me the grace to use rightly and reasonably all the good things bestowed on me by God.

(1) Catholic Catechism, by John Hardon, S.J., page 98
(2) Ibid., page 98
(3) Catechism of the Catholic Church, page 445, #1809
(4) Ibid., page 445, #1809