This is Part 2 of a series of 4 talk outlines on the cardinal virtues
|'Puzzle' by Olga Shevchenko*|
First impression and misconceptions about the virtue
- Usually it is associated with control, restrain, resistance.
- This is not incorrect.
- However, this is not the most important thing about this virtue.
- It is only an aspect, or we could even say, a consequence of the deeper meaning of the virtue.
- Worse is the virtue’s being associated with prohibition, ban, prevention, bawal(Tagalog), guinadili (Bisaya).
- This is one of the reasons why this virtue may seem unpopular to some people.
- People could even look at this virtue as unmanly.
- Temperance is the order and integration of the appetites to the person
- Temperance is the proper integration of the bodily appetites to the person.
- In Latin, temperance means having to dispose various parts into one unified and ordered whole.
- Thus temperance has something to do with order, with integration: of the appetites with respect to the person
- Man’s 2 strongest appetites come from his instinct for survival.
- Survival in the Individual level : Appetite for food and drink
- Survival in the Social level : Appetite for the sexual act
- De Marco, a philosopher says “The appetites, because they are associated with the desire for self-preservation are deeply rooted in the human nature, and consequently [because of original sin] can be very dangerous.”
- For this reason, these appetites have to be properly ordered, integrated to the person.
Reason and order in our Appetites
- What does it mean for the appetites to be properly ordered, integrated to the person?
- It means that they have their right place, and that is, that they have to be properly guided by reason, meaning, according to the purpose that they were intended for.
- And what are those?
- Food and drink
- for self-preservation, bodily sustenance, we may add as a bonus, social interaction with others.
- Sexual act
- Good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children.
- Plus : the proper conditions under which this is carried out according to God’s plan
- Between man and woman, within marriage, and open to life.
- When these appetites observe this proper order — the reason and purpose behind their existence, they become good actions.
- The appetites are not bad in themselves.
- To eat food is not evil, the sexual act is not evil, but to do them outside reason, outside their purpose, would be wrong
- Thus, temperance allows man to maintain his balance when the force of bodily appetites threatens to violate the order of reason.
- It allows him to have self-mastery self mastery over his appetites, ordering them according to reason.
Temperance is: manly, self-mastery, perfection. It prepares Man to make a commitment
- Thus, temperance is actually not childish, but is actually mature and manly.
- It is the temperate man who has dominion over his own self, and for this reason, he will be able to
- Give himself to the others (in marriage, in a vocation, in a commitment)
- Since he is able to govern himself, the temperate man can then he can begin to govern the others
Quote from Pieper on Beauty and Manliness in Temperance
"To the virtue of temperance as the preserving and defending realization of man's inner order, the gift of beauty is particularly co-ordinated. Not only is temperance beautiful in itself, it also renders men beautiful. Beauty, however, must here be understood in its original meaning: as the glow of the true and the good irradiating from every ordered state of being, and not in the patent significance of immediate sensual appeal. The beauty of temperance has a more spiritual, more austere, more virile aspect. It is of the essence of this beauty that it does not conflict with true virility, but rather has an affinity to it. Temperance, as the wellspring and premise of fortitude, is the virtue of mature manliness.
The infantile disorder of intemperance, on the other hand, not only destroys beauty, it also makes man cowardly; intemperance more than any other thing renders man unable and unwilling to 'take heart' against the wounding power of evil in the world."
Suggestions on how to practice temperance
Food and drink
- Eat what is served; take more of what you don’t like, less of what you like
- Be concerned about the others at table first; before you serve yourself
- Delay a glass of water, taking your favorite dish (cf. Marshmallow Experiment)
- When your choice will not go unnoticed, choose the worst for yourself
- Use of internet
- we can’t be naive; filter; pop-ups; certain sites
- movies : best to check out first
- music : some can be pornographic
- Guarding eyes
- street: billboards, magazine stands, people of opposite sex
- Dealings with the opposite sex – avoiding over familiarity, being in imprudent in situations and places
- Form you conscience. Seek advice in spiritual direction
- Frequent the sacraments, especially confession
- Devotion to our Lady
- For Christians, chastity (the virtue of temperance in everything that refers to sexuality) is taken a higher order: the order of love.
- Chastity, or holy purity, is the virtue that governs man's love for God and the others in everything that refers to his sexuality
- Thus, the essence of chastity is love, and not restraint and control
* Photo credit: 'Puzzle' by Olga Shevchenko at http://www.freeimages.com/photo/puzzle-4-1498303