Dear Sisters and Brothers in the Lord,
Welcome to this week’s Disciples Together on the Way Challenge. This week we continue with the theme of the virtues. In fact, I want to talk to you about the passions. As it often does, the Catechism of the Catholic Church sets out the issue very clearly. It states: “The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy” (CCC #2339). The Catechism adds, “Passions are morally good when they contribute to a good action, evil in the opposite case…. Emotions and feelings can be taken up into the virtues or perverted by the vices” (#1768).
So how do we govern our passions? The answer is the virtue of Moderation or, as it is sometimes known, Temperance. And that’s the topic of this week’s challenge.
Each one of us, as a disciple of Christ, is called to a life of holiness. And we know that such a life is not attainable unless we continually cultivate virtue in our daily life. The practice of virtue disposes us to conduct ourselves more frequently in a morally good manner. Thus, we can better resist what Saint Thomas Aquinas labeled as the three “implacable enemies of the soul”: The world, the flesh and the devil. Thus, we can readily pursue the path of holiness, happiness and peace that comes through greater intimacy with our Triune God.
By practicing the virtue of Moderation we strive to tame the desires of the flesh by limiting ourselves to certain physical pleasures, or pleasures of the senses. Now, pleasure is not all bad, for God has placed certain longings in our hearts for our good and the good of others. However, if we are led by the wrong yearnings or over-indulge our pleasures we will quickly stray from the path of holiness and in fact become slaves to such pleasures.
Again, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that Temperance is “the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the will’s mastery over instincts and keep desires within the limits of what is honorable.” (CCC 1809) As disciples of Christ we want to glorify God by living a holy, honorable life.
Therefore, by exercising Moderation in our daily lives we can, by the grace of God, keep our earthly desires in check in hopes of having a life guided by the Spirit.
So, my challenge for this week is for us to practice Moderation at our daily meals. Let us eat a bit less than we desire by taking smaller portions and don’t tell anyone why we are consuming less. The Lord sees the intentions of our heart.
I’ll be back with another challenge on the virtues next week. Until then, may God bless you with His grace throughout this coming week, in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Yours in Christ,
+ Earl Boyea
Bishop of Lansing