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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.

"The greatest glory we can give to God is to do his will in everything."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"The supreme perfection of man in this life is to be so united to God that all his soul with all its faculties and powers are so gathered into the Lord God that he becomes one spirit with him, and remembers nothing except God, is aware of and recognises nothing but God, but with all his desires unified by the joy of love, he rests contentedly in the enjoyment of his Maker alone."
St Albert the Great

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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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