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Temperance: The other day on Breakpoint, Eric Marcus described a word I haven’t heard in years…temperance. If there is one word our society needs to revisit it is this idea of temperance. Since it is one of Catholicism’s four cardinal virtues (I should find out what the rest of them are.), I thought they would be best at describing it.
Temperance is defined as “the righteous habit which makes a man govern his natural appetite for pleasures.” (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14481a.htm)
Webster says it is “a habitual moderation in regard to the indulgence of the natural appetites and passions.” Moderation could rightly be used as a synonym. We talk about moderation when we excuse our piece of cake away. We will say things like, “I hardly ever have cake.” Though that might be true in the letter of the law, in the heart of the law you may want to look at the sugary coffee drink and muffin you had for breakfast. The small bag of cookies and chips that were at lunch, another sugary coffee drink to stay awake in the afternoon, in addition to the piece of cake for desert at dinner and eventually a before bed snack. Temperance is easy to talk about, but hard to walk out in our culture. There is some reason obesity is an ever growing problem in America (no pun intended). I’m not hear to micro manage your diet or life. It is hard enough to manage my own. Temperance assumes a person applies the control to one’s self. Too much food may be making our temples more sluggish, but it isn’t the only area we need temperance to guard. Entertainment, if not properly self regulated can eat away time faster then sweets can make us over weight. There are many forms of entertainment, TV is just one of them. Hobbies, sporting events and computer time can be successful time squanderers as well. Remember, just as in the case of food, it is about the collective total of entertainments, since we have a finite number hours (or calories) in a week. Lastly, Materialism can misallocate money resources, that God has given us, to serve others instead of ourselves. Our national consumer debt is definitely an indication of our inability to exercise self control in this area. Again, I’m not scrutinizing anyone’s life, I am just pointing out that God wants to be our comfort, but if we fill our lives with excessively rich food, entertainments and material items, there will be little room to lean on Him. Since we all need some amount of food, entertainments and things, we need God’s help to even know the amount He wants us to consume. With God’s help temperance will help us be more effective at hearing His voice, feeling His presence and enjoying His comfort. Ultimately, making us more potent followers of a living God.