EWTN Virtues Seven Habits of Champions
Show #4: Temperance
by Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio
I. Catholic Church, Pleasure and Vice
A. Some think the Catholic Church is against pleasure, equating pleasure with evil. Some think that the Catholic approach to passion for pleasure is repression.
B. The Catholic Answer to Passion is Temperance, and Temperance is notabout repression. Not about elimination of pleasure. Using pleasure & passion for the good of the person
C. The creator coupled pleasure with acts that have to do with self-preservation and preservation of the human race,
D. Vice takes something designed for self-preservation and makes it destructive.
1. Ex: abortion, the result of sexual sin, destroys an innocent life
2. But the person engaging in the act is damaged too. People become slaves to passion and the pleasure associated with the sin becomes less & less.
3. Therefore people get into strange, and unnatural things to try to bring some of the thrill and excitement back. Lust, for example, makes sex become boring.
II. Temperance: what is it?
A. Often called Moderation or self-control. Sir 33: 29 “Do not act immoderately toward anybody.” 2 Tim 1:7 “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.”
B. Temperance takes sexuality and makes it serve the priorities of love and life
C. This leads to balance. Temperance is about strengthening not weakening.
D. Temperance means bringing all the parts of a person into one harmonious whole. Person is serene. Happy. Free.
E. Application of Temperance to different passion results in different “sub” virtues
1. Pleasure of Sex (Chastity)
a. eradication of all sexual desire is a pathology says St. Thomas.
b. For a single person, chastity causes the passion for union and fruitfulness to be channeled into the drive for union with God and spiritual fruitfulness. Ex Augustine. God transformed his passion, channeled it. Energy went into fruitful teaching. 4 million words!
2. Pleasure of Drink
a. Is God against alcohol? Jn 2 wedding feast of Cana shows that he is not. Mild exhilaration & relaxation that results is a good. Ps 104:15 Wine was given “to gladden the heart of man”
b. Yet drunkenness is condemned everywhere. Drunkenness causes a loss of freedom because reason is suspended.
3. Pleasure of Food: We have great feasts as Catholics. Sir 32. But we also have fasts.
4. Pleasure of Fun & Games:
a. recreation is good: All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.
b. Yet some make jokes all the time and can’t take anything seriously. This is the sin of levity
5. Pleasure of Exercise: can be healthy or can become compulsive.
6. Spiritual pleasures can be indulged in immoderately too.
a. A person can be super-spiritual. Spiritual gluttony.
b. Prayer can’t be preferred to duty. Can’t neglect duty to do devotional exercises. The Pharisees did just this. Mk 7:1-13
III. How Temperance Works
A. Reason (Prudence) and Justice become the measure of indulgence in pleasure
B. Moderation becomes a habit.
1. Your desires actually change and desires come under control. This leads to Freedom! You are not wrestling with unruly emotions all the time, relying on will-power alone!
2. Balance becomes second nature
3. Grace and the power of the HS make this happen!
C. Grace and the Holy Spirit
1. Can’t live the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance, fortitude, without grace. Ro 7: 24
2. Grace comes and frees us from compulsion and makes us free. Chastity is sexual freedom
3. Self-control (temperance) is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Gal5:23)
IV. Humility & Temperance
A. Desire for greatness, for honor and glory, is this bad?
B. No, it is Good. We are made in God’s image an likeness (Gen 1). We are each destined for greatness.
C. But without balance, this desire for excellence, greatness can cause us to exalt ourselves over God and others
D. Humility is the moderation of this natural desire for greatness, glory, honor.
E. Humility is not looking down on yourself. It’s about seeing yourself rightly. You’re not preoccupied with self, with getting others to recognize you. Because you are free. Humble person recognizes God’s greatness. Honor & respect what is of God in another. Submit myself to them in that area.
V. Why Humility is so critical
A. Can’t have one virtue without the others.
B. Prudence: requires humility. Because prudence requires an openness to reality, to the way things are rather than the way you’d like things to be. Pride leads to closed mindedness.
C. Justice can’t function without humility either. Pride makes you preoccupied with yourself. Can’t recognize other people’s rights and dignity.
VI. Some other areas where temperance is needed
A. How about Money: is it bad to desire if?
1. 1 Tim 6: 16 Love of money is the root of all evil. St. Augustine says you “love” money in this sense when you make it an end in itself.
2. To desire to make money in order to take care of your family is good, it drives people to work and achieve which they might not otherwise do.
B. Desire for knowledge can be immoderate
1. Gossip. Busybody. Itch for the latest scoop, to be “in the know”
2. True love of learning must involve the determination to change and bring your life into accordance with the truth that you learn
A. Temperance is marvelous. Glorious, powerful, strong.
B. Brings everything into balance, everything into focus.
To read an article by Marcellino D’Ambrosio on temperance, click here.