The Cardinal Virtues: Temperance by Martina Casey

In a four-part series, we are exploring the Cardinal Virtues. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (“CCC”) lists four; prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude. Last week, we covered justice  and the week before prudence . Today, we’ll look at temperance.

The CCC tells us that temperance “moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the will’s mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable” (CCC1809).

Temperance is a combination of moderation, discipline and self-control. Let’s take a look at four every-day ways we can implement temperance in our lives:


You may have heard the expression “live simply, so that others can simply live.” Next time you are about to purchase something, ask yourself if it’s a need or a want. There’s nothing inherently wrong in either as long as we remember what St. James tells us in James 1:17 “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…”

In the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 24:14-30 Jesus makes it clear what He expects of us. We are not to hoard the treasures entrusted to us; we are to make them yield profit.


Jesus shows the importance of fasting, when in Matthew 17:21, He explains that certain demons can only be overcome with a combination of prayer and fasting; “this kind [kind of demon] does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” While He’s talking about a demonic possession, this can very well be applied to the worldly possessions holding us back from a deeper spiritual life.

In the Acts of the Apostles we see the newly formed Church in continuous prayer and fasting. Even here at the Sisterhood a few of us stay away from meat on Fridays.

In his book “No Turning Back”, Fr. Donald H. Calloway talks about fasting on bread and water during his powerful conversion from agnostic drug-dealer, to Marian priest.

While there is no prescribed formula for fasting, my one suggestion is to do it under the guidance of a spiritual director, especially if your fasting is on the extreme end as was Fr. Calloway’s.


This doesn’t apply to recovering addicts only – it’s for all of us. In 1 Peter 5:8 we are told why: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

We can’t be alert when we aren’t sober. We are likely to yield to temptation when our state of mind is altered.


Gluttony, one of the seven deadly sins, is probably the most “underrated” of the sins. After all, who hasn’t overindulged every once in a while? Left unchecked, this sin can stealthily become an idol.

Hebrews 12:11 has the antidote to gluttony and everything else holding us from living life in temperance: discipline. The author of Hebrews tells us that “for the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant” but that “later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained in it”.

And so we pray; come Holy Spirit, help discipline us that we may yield fruit pleasing to God.

Let us know how you practice temperance in your own life in the comments section below and on our Facebook page here. We look forward to hearing from you!

May God Bless you!




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