Temperance

This artistic rendition of “Temperance” is a digital work created by Margaret Cartmell Cantrell in 2009. The imagery of water represents purity and constancy.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

1 Cor. 9:24-25

Temperance is a moral virtue and can be defined as “moderation in action, thought, or feeling; restraint.” The Catholic Encyclopedia describes temperance as “concerned with what is difficult for a man, not insofar as he is a rational being precisely, but rather insofar as he is an animal.” Thus, the virtue of temperance can be understood as practicing habits of self-discipline and self-control, resisting what St. Paul called the temptations of the flesh. Such habits cultivate rightly ordered desires that enable one to love God and neighbor more purely. However, self-control is never an end in itself. Using a common metaphor, Josef Pieper suggests that if we imagine our human will and desires as a river, then temperance would be the riverbank: “Without [temperance] the stream…could overflow its banks, lose its direction, and never reach the sea of fulfillment. Yet temperance is not the stream…it is the bank and rampart, and through its firmness the stream is endowed with an unhindered course, momentum, slope, and velocity.” At Live Oak we teach children to develop temperance through the language of cooperation, courteousness and obedience.

 

 

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