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 honorable. 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.” We ought “to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world.”
To live well is nothing other than to love God with all one’s heart, with all one’s soul, and with all one’s efforts; from this it comes about that love is kept whole and uncorrupted (through temperance). No misfortune can disturb it (and this is fortitude). It obeys only God (and this is justice), and is careful in discerning things, so as not to be surprised by deceit or trickery (and this is prudence).
This is the virtue I’m praying for right now. When I get off the wagon, it’s so easy for me to keep traveling down that road and be attracted to too much sugar or one more glass of wine, and not living my best life. My senses are stimulated wanting more, yet where will I turn? Do I succumb to my fleshly desires or do I use this struggle to lean on God to strengthen me in the battle? It’s a choice I have and not always an easy one.
As I live a sober life which purifies my heart, I see the subtleties where the Spirit lives. I live in the tension of living life yet not being consumed by its fire.
Lord, thank you for the virtue of temperance that keeps me connected to You.