Building Catholic Character in Students: Be Temperate

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The Catholic Book of Character and Success: Chapter Notes

Chapter Eleven: Be Temperate.

  • Temperance means the habit of self-control and moderation in yielding to bodily appetites.
  • The temperate person uses the good things of the body reasonably.
  • Temperance is essential to happiness and a virtuous character.
  • The better you examine yourself the more you will see the faculties demanding gratification.
  • Mental curiosity can be excessive as can self-esteem.
  • You are inclined to grasp for money unreasonably.
  • These are all impulses that need to be brought under control and fought off when they go beyond what is reasonable and proper.
  • There are some impulses that are good when controlled but damaging when unrestrained.
  • The first impulse is the yearning for self-esteem. This is good when tempered with reason and can motivate a person to make effort. But when unrestrained it is a terrible source of pride, making a man a terrible burden to others and a wretched creature.
  • The next impulse if the desire for property. It is good for a man to work hard and make money to meet his just needs and obligations. However unrestrained craving for wealth is imprudent and makes a misery of man, often leading him crime.
  • The third impulse to be controlled is that of pleasure. Pleasure in itself is good and can help a man in his daily endeavours, but those who yield to sensuous cravings for their own sake take the slave’s path of misery and wretchedness.
  • The next impulse is that of anger. Anger can be useful and can raise our strength when needed to resist or attack evil. But unchecked unreasonable anger, makes a person dangerous to society and an object of ridicule.
  • The fifth impulse is the craving for food and drink as they are necessary for our existence. The virtuous man must always be on guard to be reasonable in their consumption, especially of alcohol, lest they damage their health and undermine their character.
  • The impulse to equal or excel others is a natural and healthy impulse that is good when used in reason, for it can help us to succeed and work hard. But left unchecked, this impulse leads to envy, jealousy and bad feelings.
  • The final impulse to be regulated is that of rest. Rest is necessary and is good. It allows us to recreate socially and renew our strength to continue in our good works. However excessive rest leads to laziness and the man becomes a sluggard and shirker.
  • Every character has a tendency to be weakest in one of these impulses, which acts as a taproot to feed the other impulses. Examine your conscience to ascertain which impulse is strongest in you.
  • Work hard to fight your greatest impulse so that it does not lead you to shame and regret. When you master it you will master the others and you will acquire the virtue of temperance.
  • Their is no way to acquire temperance without continual practice.
  • Deliberately practice self-control, self-denial and self-discipline by acting against these impulses in your nature that you identify as problematic.
  • Do not delay. Begin now. Practice temperance and lay the foundations for a happy life and a strong character.

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