Monday, May 30, 2011

Temperance



Fr. Hardon on Temperance.
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The word temperance is derived from the Latin temperantia, which was used by Cicero to translate Plato's sophrosune, which meant restraint of the appetites and passions in accordance with right reason. As seen before, temperance is one of the four cardinal virtues, that moralists consider the most fundamental because it is the one on which the other three depend.
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In the New Testament, the Greek noun sophrosune, is variously translated as "soberness" or "sobriety" when it occurs in the Acts of the Apostles and St. Paul. (1) The adjective sophron, translated indiscriminately as "sober... temperate...discreet," is listed among the attributes proper to people of mature age and to leaders in society.

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For Christians, temperance in its physical aspects is related to the need for self-control of the body, regarded as a temple of the Holy Spirit. The teaching of the ancient Fathers of the Church, notably Origen, Ambrose, and Augustine, was synthesized in the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas, whose treatment of the moral virtues remains the classic theological work on the subject. He places temperance into context as the virtue that controls our unruly desires, including the appetite for food and drink.

As fortitude controls rashness and fear in the face of the major pains which threaten to unbalance human nature, so temperance controls desire for major pleasures. And because pleasure follows from connatural activity, so therefore are pleasures the more vehement when they attend our most natural activities. They are those which serve the individual through food and drink, and the species through intercourse of male and female, and it is with them that temperance is properly engaged. They come from the sense of touch; hence we conclude that temperance, in its most precise sense, is concerned with tactile pleasures.

In its broader aspect, therefore, temperance spans the control of all pleasures, but by common usage the word is applied to restraint in the taking of food, and mainly of drink. A familiar synonym is sobriety, in the reference to a person being "sober" when he is not under the influence of intoxicants.
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Moral theology teaches there are two ways of practicing temperance in the use of alcohol, either by moderation or by total abstinence. Both are approved by centuries of Christian practice, much as the practice of chastity is sanctioned by Christian morality, either by total abstinence, as with those who vow themselves to a life of celibacy, or by moderation, among the millions who marry and confine the enjoyment of sex pleasure to the married state. - Fr. Hardon Archives

15 comments:

  1. Such an articulate, intelligent, well-read, and HOLY man. I really hope he's canonized one day. God knows how many American Catholics can cite Fr. Hardon as a major influence on their (re)conversion. For me, there's Fr. Groeschel, another brilliant and holy man (humble too, so good thing he doesn't read blogs and see me say that).

    We should take bets on how long it takes Maria to comment on the Father Hardon post :). He was truly one of the last great Jesuits.

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  2. I agree Mercury - He amazes me - I was looking for something he said about why he never drank alcohol and how he felt it was better if priests abstained - but I couldn't find it. He also felt a priest's life was a martyrdom.

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  3. Off topic--

    But it just isn't Memorial Day without snow.. :)

    almost 4 inches at my place...

    The snowmobile avatar shall remain :)

    Sara

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  4. Mercury: A little late, huh? I just hope I live to see him Sainted before I go...

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  5. Terry: You commnet about Fr. Hardon not drinking alcholol, which I did not know, made me think of his commentary on the Cost of Loving God:

    "Between these two, surrender and suffering, or as I prefer, sacrifice and the cross, lies the whole price range of divine love. Go where you will, seek where you will, consult whom you will. Pray, read, speculate and meditate as much as you will, you will always come back to this fact of the spiritual life and there are no exceptions. The love of God is paid for as Christ paid for the love of His Father with the hard currency of willing sacrifice and the holy cross.

    When I was younger, and I thought, smarter, I didn't talk quite this way. But experience is a good, though costly, teacher...

    Sacrifice is not quite the same as the cross, although they have much in common. When I endure the cross I am ready to accept whatever unpleasant things God in His love wants me to endure and God can be uncanny in what crosses He can send us. Sometimes we think it takes a divine imagination to conjure up the varieties, large and small, different sizes and shapes, of the cross. On the other hand, when I sacrifice I'm rather giving up pleasant things that I already enjoy.

    The variety of these pleasant things that God's love may ask me to give up is all but infinite and they will differ with different people. Much will depend on what we as individuals already have. Some have one thing, others have another. What one person has is dear to him. What another person has will be dear to her. Some people have one thing, say, money. Others have something else, say leisure, or privacy or independence **(I make sure I have none of these things)**

    Someone told me that Fr. Hardon was really an ascetic. I suspect he deprived himself of alcohol for the reason he deprived himself of everything else--as a sacrifice. He knew the spiritual power of sacrifice, for himself and others...

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  6. Maria, I think he was an ascetic as well.

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  7. Terry - you're drinking the Classicist Approach to Moral Theology kool-aid again...
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    lol!!

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  8. I personally struggle with what is exactly a sacrifice...

    Alot probably has to do with serving in austere environments while in the military, and also enjoying primitive camping.

    Tell me to give up something, for Lent or whatever, and I see it as a personal challenge rather than a sacrifice. For example this past Lent my goal was to give up meat for entire Lent...messed up twice, once my fault, another because I was invited to dinner at a friend's house. I proved to myself I could do it, but it wasn't a sacrifice or even a major hardship. And I didn't really miss the meat, just had to tweak a few meals some.

    Ask me to give up anything and it becomes "Adapt, Improvise, Overcome." Really hard for me to get anything spiritual out of sacrifice.

    It is much more of a challenge for me to ADD activities, such as extra rosary, more spiritual reading, Adoration time, more Daily Mass etc...this is where I really struggle. And where I see the spiritual gains.

    Sara

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  9. http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2011/05/servant-of-god-fr-john-hardon-s-j-great.html

    That's a link to The website if Dave Armstrong, the apologist. He knew Fr. Hardon very personally - he was received into the Church by him, had his marriage sacramentalized by him, and two of his children baptized by him. How cool is that?

    It's not totally relevant, but I did think of this post and all of y'all in the comment box here (especially Maria and Terry), and thought y'all would find it interesting.

    Dave Armstrong, being a former Evangelical, is one of the best apologists around for that sort of thing - the whole "Cath'licks made up all them thangs" attacks and the answers that we should know. He also knows the Bible better than most of us do. Huh, Nehemiah, isn't that a grape soda? :)

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  10. Mecury: I have seen his website and read about him. Great story. Mercury, I still know next to nothing about my faith. It is embarrsing really. There is just so much to learn. It is why I rely on Fr.Hardon so much.

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  11. I love Fr Hardon. He and Fr Lawrence Lovasik are saints in heaven, I have no doubt.

    Temperence in alcohol--that's a piece of cake for me. It's CAKE that's not a piece of cake. The thing with trying to be temperate with food is that you HAVE to eat. Therein is the rub. Sticking to a diet for several months, I can do. Sustaining the weightloss, however, never was able to do it. I am an utter failure in this regard (among others!). I wish I could obtain that special grace of temperence in food that so many of the Saints had. But how?

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  12. Fr. Hardon's writings on marriage have been very helpful on some of my particular scrupulous concerns.

    His writings on the Faith in general have been helpful in every way. Did you know there are some trads who call him a liberal? HA!

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  13. Mercury--I am so glad he has helped you. There are people who think he was a liberal? lol. Not a conservative Catholic, not a liberal Catholic, a Roman Catholic--as that yarn goes. That is how I think of him. With all he has written he'll be Sainted in my next life!

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  14. Fr. Hardon's canonization guy was in town last week, I saw him at Mass one morning.

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  15. His "Canonization guy". Haha, I like that.

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