Temperance today

Posted by watchmen
March 13, 2020
Posted in OPINION

More than ever, we need to be keenly aware today of the need for the virtue of temperance. Why? We cannot deny that we are constantly bombarded with many material things, all offering all kinds of advantages and conveniences, that if we are not careful can remove us from our proper path to God, to heaven, to the world of the spiritual and the supernatural.
It’s as simple as that. We now have to deliberately exercise restraint and moderation in the use of material things, otherwise we will be swallowed up by the dynamics of worldly forces that would plunge us to the big, wide and smooth road to self-indulgence, and ultimately to our perdition.
More than practising restraint and moderation, we need to have a clear, firm and functioning idea of what the purpose of all these material amenities we are enjoying in the world today, is. Our proper focus should not be lost.
All these material developments and progress we have today are meant to give glory to God and to contribute to the common good. They are meant to develop in us the real essence and the fullness of our humanity, which is love — love for God and love for neighbour, and not self-love.
That is why it becomes increasingly imperative that we be properly grounded on our faith and our life of piety, consisting of the usual things — time for prayer and meditation, offering of sacrifices, recourse to the sacraments, availing of a continuing plan of formation, development of virtues, forming our consciences, waging an abiding ascetical struggle, etc.
These are things that we today should become more experts in as we immerse ourselves in the material and temporal developments of our world here. These are things that keep and reinforce our true dignity as persons and children of God. They also are what would recover that dignity if we happen to lose it, which is what often happens.
Christ has told it to us very clearly. “If anyone would come after me,” he said, “let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mt 16, 24) There is always a need for self-denial and sacrifice for us because of the disorder between our body and soul, between our reason and faith, due to our sins.
Our catechism describes the virtue of temperance in this way: “Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the will’s mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honourable.
“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. In the New Testament, it is called ‘moderation’ or ‘sobriety.’” (CCC 1809)
We need to translate these lofty words about temperance into concrete guidelines adapted to our unique personal circumstances. How should we live temperance when using the internet, the modern gadgets? How should we live temperance when indulging in our business and getting involved in politics?
We have to have specific ways of living temperance in our thoughts, desires, imagination, memory, and in our speech and deeds. Temperance also in food, drinks and sex and recreation. Yes, in all aspects of our life, including our spiritual life that can also have its excesses and abuses.
To be sure, this is not punishment. Rather it is to uphold and enhance our dignity. We need to educate ourselves more effectively about this need for temperance. The youth these days should be given special attention, because they are often unprepared to properly handle the new developments and allurements of the world today./WDJ

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