The Cardinal Virtues // Temperance

Jesus, You practiced temperance; You were the Model of self-restraint, Never over-indulging in the temporal. My body being the Temple of the Lord, I must treat it with ongoing respect. Self-abuse destroys the body; Be it alcohol, drugs, or excess food. Lord Jesus, bestow fortitude upon me For my soul to control my body, To practice the virtue of temperance. Jesus, You are the source of my vigor. Through You, all is possible! Amen

My child, test yourself while you live; see what is bad for you and do not give in to it. Sirach 37:27

The virtue of temperance is a mastery of the will over your own desires and pleasures in the created world. That doesn’t automatically mean that the desires or pleasures are bad in themselves, but to make sure that those desires and pleasures are ordered towards God, instead of taking His place or leading away from Him. In this sense, temperance can go so much deeper than just a detachment from material goods or earthly desires. 

Something I’m struggling with right now is temperance in relation to time - for the first time in my life, I feel more like a Martha than a Mary. I’m realizing that scheduling too much work and ministry can be just as bad as laziness and scheduling too much pleasure. My desires are still not in check - I’m “doing” so much for God but rarely sitting at His feet. Temperance means finding the right balance. 

Finding this balance with anything takes time and a lot of self-awareness. Temperance isn’t one size fits all - as Sirach says, it’s learning the wisdom to know what is good and what is bad for your soul, and then not giving in to the bad. Aside from obvious moral good and evil, different people can handle different things - for instance, extroverts vs. introverts. If I schedule too much in my week, I get physically sick and grouchy and my soul is starved because of it. Someone else’s soul may instead thrive off of being constantly in the presence of other people. In relation to food, I am gluten intolerant, so for me to have temperance means I have to limit my (huge) desire to even eat one bite of a bagel, instead of the average person’s limit. 

Temperance ultimately comes down to an appreciation for created goods through the eyes of God - allowing them to be as He created them to be, without ever allowing them to become masters of our hearts. 

What is one area of your life where you could use more temperance? Is it spending less time on your phone or Facebook, not buying those super cute shoes, or making sure to pencil in some rest? 

Ask God to help you see where you need more balance in your heart.

To Jesus through Mary-Emily Naylor