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156. Incontinence

1. Incontinence is the vice opposed directly tocontinence. It consists either in the impetuosity or theweakness of a soul which impulsively, and without thecounsel of reason, surrenders to evil desires; or, after thecounsel of reason, is weak and reluctant to accept the judgment ofreason.

2. Incontinence is a sin, because it conflicts withreason, and because it plunges a person into what is shameful. Itis to be remarked, however, that the word incontinence isoften used with no implication of lust at all; it is used toexpress eagerness, enthusiasm, urgency in acting, even in what isblameless or in what is good. Hence, care is to be taken ininterpreting this word.

3. As continence has not the full perfection and scope oftemperance, so incontinence has not the full character, and is notso grave a sin, as intemperance.

4. Incontinence, as referring to evil desires, issometimes contrasted with wild and unbridled anger. Such anger isitself often called incontinence. Now, in itself, the incontinenceof lustful desire is much worse than the incontinence of anger; itis a greater deordination of reasonable life, and a thing of fargreater shame than anger is. In result, however, the casemay be different. Incontinence of anger may lead to greater evilsthan does the incontinence of lust. For the incontinence of lustharms the man guilty of it, whereas the incontinence of anger maybreak out into violence that does damage to others also.

"When the devil has failed in making a man fall, he puts forward all his energies to create distrust between the penitent and the confessor, and so by little and little he gains his end at last."
St Philip Neri

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"Let persons in the world sanctify themselves in their own houses, for neither the court, professions, or labour, are any hindrance to the service of God."
St Philip Neri

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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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