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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.

"It is not God's will that we should abound in spiritual delights, but that in all things we should submit to his holy will."
Blessed Henry Suso

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"Try to turn your heart from the love of things visible and bring yourself to things invisible. For they who follow their own evil passions stain their consciences and lose the grace of God. "
Thomas á Kempis

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"Spiritual persons ought to be equally ready to experience sweetness and consolation in the things of God, or to suffer and keep their ground in drynesses of spirit and devotion, and for as long as God pleases, without their making any complaint about it."
St Philip Neri

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