Evangelizing through the Catholic Arts

Practicing Temperance – Part I of III

Temperance 53014

Through the practice of the virtue of Temperance, we can move from a state of sin to a state of grace; from gluttony to fasting and abstinence; from drunkenness to sobriety; from lust to chastity. Whatever the obsession, we can move to a state of grace through the gift of the virtue of Temperance. Today we will discuss the move from gluttony to fasting and abstinence, with the other two topics covered in the next two reflections.

Let’s first define gluttony: It is an over-indulgent desire for eating and drinking, whether it is the quantity or quality of food. It becomes one of the seven deadly sins, or capital sins, when we opt for the food or drink over our true end, being with God in eternity. When we put the food and/or drink first and God second, we need to ask for the grace of Temperance. We need to practice Temperance.

When we practice Temperance, we take in only the quantity of food and drink necessary to live. We eat to live, not live to eat. “To be virtuous, in abstaining from food, a man should act with due regard for those among whom he lives, for his own person, and for the requirements of health.” 1 Here, Saint Thomas Aquinas is telling us to consider our families and the impact gluttony can have on them. Maintaining the balance of healthy eating for everyone in the household is the intermediary goal, with Heaven for all family members being the end goal. With Heaven as the end goal, Temperance will thrive and virtuous living will abound.

The journey from drunkenness to sobriety will be discussed in our next reflection on the virtue of Temperance. Don’t miss it!


1Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologicae, II-II Q.146 a.1. newadvent.org.

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