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142. Vices Opposed to Temperance

1. Nature has associated pleasure with the operationsnecessary for life. Man is to make use of these pleasures in so faras they are required for his well-being. To reject pleasure to theextent of omitting what is necessary for preserving nature, whetherin the individual or in the race, would be the vice ofinsensibility. Insensibility is a vice opposed to temperance. Now,insensibility is not to be confused with abstinence, which isuseful and sometimes necessary even in the natural order. In thesupernatural order it is right and reasonable, and hence virtuous,freely to renounce all use of sex, and much of the pleasure of thetable, so that one may devote oneself more completely to the lifeof spiritual perfection.

2. Intemperance is the direct opposite to temperance.Aristotle calls it (Ethic. iii 12) a childishvice. The adjective is justified; intemperance, like an ill-trainedand unruly child, is unreasonable, headstrong, willful, wanting itsown way, knowing not where to stop, and growing stronger in itsdisgusting qualities the more it is indulged. Finally (and stilllike an unruly child), intemperance is corrected only by having itstendencies curbed and restrained.

3. Intemperance is a more grievous vice than cowardice,for there is in it more of a person's own choice. It is lessexcusable than cowardice, for of the two vices it is the morereadily cured.

4. Intemperance is the most disgraceful of vices, for itindulges pleasures that men and animals have in common; it tends tolevel a man to the state of a beast. And intemperance so dims thelight, and weakens the control of reason, that it makes a man slaveto his bodily cravings. Hence, intemperance is both inhuman andslavish; it shames and disgraces its victim in the eyes of hisfellowmen.

"God commands not impossibilities, but by commanding he suggests to you to do what you can, to ask for what is beyond your strength; and he helps you, that you may be able."
St Augustine

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"Whom do you seek, friend, if you seek not God? Seek him, find him, cleave to him; bind your will to his with bands of steel and you will live always at peace in this life and in the next."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"Before a man chooses his confessor, he ought to think well about it, and pray about it also; but when he has once chosen, he ought not to change, except for most urgent reasons, but put the utmost confidence in his director."
St Philip Neri

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