Growing in Temperance

Temperance is associated with the beatitude, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10). In holding fast in the face of persecution, one shows the strength of self-sacrifice. Self-sacrifice and temperance are closely united.

Temperance combats the sin of gluttony. While gluttony is unrestrained in its consumption of food, drink, or other pleasures, temperance practices healthy moderation.

What is temperance?

Temperance is a virtue that moderates the attraction and desire for pleasure and “provides balance in the use of created goods” (CCC 1809). St. Thomas calls it a “disposition of the mind which binds the passions.”

Living with temperance

You’ve probably heard people say, “It’s all about moderation.” Well, it really is. More accurately, it’s all about temperance. Living with temperance frees us to partake in material goods in proportion with the way that is best for us and will bring us the most happiness in the end. Our culture today often promotes instant gratification, but temperance helps us achieve long-term happiness.

Three ideas to help you increase your temperance

  1. Moderate your food and drink. Practice not eating past the point of being full or drinking too much.
  2. Avoid excess. Practice doing without certain earthly goods that aren’t necessary. Maybe you can make a commitment not to buy too many extra clothes you don’t need or electronic gadgets you can live without.
  3. Reflect on the areas of your life that you have a difficult time practicing moderation in. Come up with a game plan to practice temperance with whatever that hang-up is. 

What do the experts say?

“Do not follow your base desires, but restrain your appetites.” –Sirach 18:30

“Temperance is a mean with regard to pleasures.” –Aristotle

“Do not follow your inclination and strength, walking according to the desires of your heart.” –Sirach 5:2

“For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world” –Titus 2:11-12

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” –Romans 13:14