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Pope considers a virtue “as precious as it is rare”

Pope Francis during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's square at the Vatican on April 17, 2024

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 04/18/24

People with this virtue are those who understand how to enjoy a good wine, how to recognize what counts in life.

Pope Francis continued his catechesis cycle on virtues and vices at the general audience of April 18, 2024. He considered the fourth cardinal virtue, temperance.

He noted how the cardinal virtues were already much considered and taught by the Greeks.

For the Greeks, the practice of the virtues had happiness as its objective. […] Why does everyone seek happiness, even though so few achieve it? This is the question. To answer this question, Aristotle confronts the theme of the virtues, among which enkráteia, that is, temperance, takes a prominent place. The Greek term literally means “power over oneself.” So, temperance is a power over oneself. This virtue is thus the capacity for self-mastery, the art of not letting oneself be overcome by rebellious passions, of establishing order in what Manzoni calls “the jumble of the human heart.”

Here are further reflection that the Pope shared, after he noted what the Catechism says about this virtue (see here).

Therefore, temperance, as the Italian word says, is the virtue of the right measure. In every situation, one behaves wisely, because people who act always moved by impulse or exuberance are ultimately unreliable.

In a world where many people boast about saying what they think, the temperate person instead prefers to think about what he says.

Also with pleasures, the temperate person acts judiciously. […] for example, to appreciate a good wine, to taste it in small sips is better than swallowing it all in one go. We all understand this.

The temperate person knows how to weigh words and dose them well. He thinks about what he says. He does not allow a moment’s anger to ruin relationships and friendships that can then only be rebuilt with difficulty. Especially in family life, where inhibitions are lower, we all run the risk of not keeping tensions, irritations, and anger in check. There is a time to speak and a time to be silent, but both require the right measure.

The gift of the temperate person is therefore balance, a quality as precious as it is rare.

Brothers and sisters, it is not true that temperance makes one grey and joyless. On the contrary, it lets one enjoy the goods of life better: […] Happiness with temperance is the joy that flourishes in the heart of those who recognize and value what counts most in life.

Read the full catechesis here.

Tags:
Christian virtuesPhilosophyPope Francis
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