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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.

"A tree that is cultivated and guarded through the care of its owner produces its fruit at the expected time. "
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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"He who wishes to be perfectly obeyed, should give but few orders."
St Philip Neri

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"The one thing necessary which Jesus spoke of to Martha and Mary consists in hearing the word of God and living by it."
R. Garrigou-Lagrange, OP

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