Skip to Content

From the Pastor 05/14/17

Congratulations to the newly appointed members of the Pastoral Council: Mark Holland, Catherine Geiser, Jill Woods, and Michael Mason. I wish to thank the seven people who stepped forward to be considered for the Council. A few weeks ago the Council also elected Dwight Stephenson as their Chairperson, and Emma Friemoth as the Vice Chairperson for next year’s Council. I wish to thank our outgoing members for the years of service they have given to the parish on Council: Mark Becker, Brian Crogan and Nicole Lloyd. Also a big thank you to Jeremy Corsmo for serving as Chairperson and Diana Adler for serving as Vice Chairperson during this year. May God continue to bless our Pastoral Council as they work with me for the good of our Parish Community.

This is the fourth week of my four part series on the Four Cardinal Virtues. The theology presented is of course from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas. This week is the second installment with the Virtue of Temperance.

The Virtue of Temperance
The virtue of temperance governs our appetites for pleasure. By nature we desire the pleasure that is suitable to us. Since man by definition is rational, the pleasures that are in accord with reason are suitable to man. Temperance does not restrain us from the pleasures that are reasonable, but from those that are contrary to our reason. Temperance does not act against our natural human inclinations, but works with them. Temperance is opposed to the inclinations of nature when they are like a beast that is not ruled by reason.

First and foremost, temperance governs the pleasures of the senses, and especially the sense of touch. These are the greatest and most forceful pleasures, because our sense of touch is closest to our existence, and it is also involved in reproduction, and so is concerned with the existence of offspring. The other senses are not as forceful. For example, the glutton is not motivated by the taste of food, but by the feeling of a full stomach.

The virtue of temperance also requires us to prepare ourselves. There is a place for asceticism in daily life. I’ve already mentioned how soft-living can undermine fortitude. Temperance requires us to train ourselves and prepare ourselves even when we are not faced with an immediate temptation. For this reason, Thomas Aquinas teaches that fasting is not merely a religious custom, but it is part of the natural law.

All men are required to develop the virtue of temperance and govern their desire for pleasure by reason, and so all must take the necessary steps to prepare themselves. The purpose of fasting and other ascetical practices is not to destroy our natural inclinations, but to become master of them. He even writes that if a man would be committing a sin if he fasted to the point where he actually lost his sexual desire.

A lack of temperance undermines prudence, and if prudence is destroyed, all the virtues are undermined. Temperance itself needs to be nurtured, and this is part of the role of culture. If we are surrounded by images of self-indulgence and appeals to our senses, our reason is undermined. The mass media deliberately exploit our desires, but there is a saying: no injury is done if the other party was willing. We can select what we want to watch, and when we watch television or use the Internet, we can choose to reflect upon what we see or to surrender our judgment. A culture of temperance will be reflected in the way we speak and act as well.

While temperance primarily concerns tactile pleasures, it also concerns our emotions. Part of temperance is to control our anger. Part of temperance is to govern our sexual desire, and temperance in that department is generally called chastity. Chastity is not synonymous with celibacy, but it means governing our sexual desire in accordance with our state in life.

Temperance also concerns our desire for knowledge. An uncontrolled desire is curiosity, exemplified as Ulysses who took ten years to return home because he was always seeking new adventures and experiences. The right measure is called studiosity or studiousness, which is the disciplined search for the truth. It is also possible for our natural desire for the truth to be dulled because of a life of comfort and pleasure, and then we may suffer from a dullness of the intellect for which we are morally responsible.

A blessed Easter Week to all,

Rev. André-Joseph LaCasse, O.P., Pastor