A July Faith Formation Series – Part IV – APOSTOLIC
July 29, 2016
June 30, 2020
Virtues Part Three: Temperance and Fortitude
July 14, 2017
A quick review: As a Catholic Church we recognize seven virtues belonging to two distinct categories:
Theological Virtues: Faith, Hope, Love
Moral or Cardinal Virtues: Prudence, Justice, Temperance, and Fortitude
Virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do good. (CCC 1833)
To be a virtuous person is to be aware always of the need to make right choices that are in line with the teaching of Jesus; it is to love God and to love your neighbor and to let that mantra echo in your heart as you make moral decisions. Interesting that the Catechism speaks of virtue as being habitual for habits are formed by doing something over and over again to a degree that it becomes a part of who a person is; a characteristic of their being. Today we will address two more cardinal virtues: Temperance and Fortitude. Temperance is an interesting word, one that is not heard often in our daily conversations, so let’s look at that for a moment. Temperance might be described as a kind of restraint or self-control and might include self- denial for right and good reasons. Take for example a married person who is exposed to many relationship opportunities in life, as we all are. However, a married person, being true to the vows they have made uses a type of restraint or self-discipline so that new relationships do not cross the line of more than friendship. Or what about any person who enjoys a drink socially, they learn to make right decision each time they drink; they employ self-control so as to drink in moderation. Another example might be an adult or a teen who limits themselves to a certain amount of time on computer or any electronic device so that they might be more present to their family. Practicing the virtue of temperance assists us in avoiding or not succumbing to a variety of addictions. “Do not let your passions be your guide, but keep your desires in check.” Sirach 18.30
Can you understand how this could be a moral decision and more importantly how not limiting oneself has the potential to break down relationships? We are gifted with selfcontrol, it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and in that we know that God is with us as we learn to practice the virtue of temperance.
And then there is fortitude; from where do you draw your strength?
“The Lord is my strength and my song.” Psalms 118.14 This line from Scripture and so many more speak of how we must depend fully on God for our strength to live right and just lives. To think that we can do it on our own would brand us as arrogant. To understand the need to develop a desire to rely on God for strength and guidance in all we do is to live the virtue of fortitude. Perhaps you remember the story of massacre of young lives at the Columbine High School a number of years ago; we heard the story of a young woman who professed her faith in Jesus before the perpetrator took her life. That is fortitude; to be convinced that God is your strength, that God is with you not only when all is good; perhaps more importantly when facing extreme difficulties in life, especially when our lives or the lives of others are at stake.
Our prayer, of course, is that we will not ever have to stand strong like the young Columbine student, but being aware of the virtue of fortitude and calling upon God when you are experiencing great difficulty in life or when you are standing strong for the rights of another for the purpose of upholding good is to live the virtue of fortitude. “In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16.33 What a gift to know that God is with us always!
Next week we will examine the Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope and Love.