Life in Christ
is the moral virtue that moderates the attrac-
tion 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. The temperate person directs the
sensitive appetites toward what is good and maintains a healthy
discretion: “Do not follow your inclination and strength, walking
according to the desires of your heart.”
Temperance is often
praised in the Old Testament: “Do not follow your base desires, but
restrain your appetites.”
In the New Testament it is called
“moderation” or “sobriety.” We ought “to live sober, upright, and
godly lives in this world.”
To live well is nothing other than to love God with all one’s
heart, with all one’s soul and with all one’s efforts; from this
it comes about that love is kept whole and uncorrupted
(through temperance). No misfortune can disturb it (and this
is fortitude). It obeys only [God] (and this is justice), and is
careful in discerning things, so as not to be surprised by
deceit or trickery (and this is prudence).
The virtues and grace
Human virtues acquired by education, by deliberate acts
and by a perseverance ever-renewed in repeated efforts are puri-
fied and elevated by divine grace. With God’s help, they forge
character and give facility in the practice of the good. The virtuous
man is happy to practice them.
It is not easy for man, wounded by sin, to maintain moral
balance. Christ’s gift of salvation offers us the grace necessary to
persevere in the pursuit of the virtues. Everyone should always ask
for this grace of light and strength, frequent the sacraments, coop-
erate with the Holy Spirit, and follow his calls to love what is good
and shun evil.
5:2; cf. 37:27-31.
75 St. Augustine,
De moribus eccl.
1, 25, 46: PL 32, 1330-1331.