The Cardinal Virtue of Temperance helps a man enjoy licit pleasures in the world in a balanced way and overcome his passions and impulses which result in becoming enslaved by the vice of Intemperance. Human Temperance can be supernaturally infused by the Holy Spirit through the Gift of the Fear of the Lord. To grow in Temperance, a man needs to build several habits which allow him to gain the self-mastery to moderate his impulses and urges. 

The Virtue of Temperance

“Temperance is the moral virtue that 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. The temperate man directs the sensitive appetites toward what is good and maintains a healthy discretion…” (CCC 1809). The  man who builds the virtue of Temperance embraces moderation, sobriety, discretion and self-control, even periodic abstinence over the pleasures of the senses, prudently protecting himself from falling into sin due to excesses of consumption of various licit pleasures. The Temperate man experiences the peacefulness and joy of being truly free of raging and persistent passions over which he battles to gain mastery.

The Vice of Intemperance

In opposition to Temperance is the vice of Intemperance, an unmanly vice by which a man refuses to moderate his own impulses, losing control or not caring to stop in the consumption of pleasure, or to control his emotions and behaviors towards others. Intemperance spans many of the 7 Deadly Sins, including pride, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth, all of which result from a man’s failure to use his reason and will to keep his urges in check.  The Intemperate man experiences guilt and shame and the pain of being enslaved and powerlessness over unseemly pleasures, his impulses towards others, and his own lethargy and inaction.

The Gift of the Fear of the Lord

To help a man grow in Temperance, the Holy Spirit gives a receptive man the Gift of the Fear of the Lord which builds upon a man’s just fear of punishment for sin and elevates it so that a man has such awe and gratitude for God’s bountiful gifts that he fears to disappoint and become separated from God. A man’s holy fear of being separated from God causes him to have guilt, shame, and sorrow and to grow to hate his vice of Intemperance and gives him newfound strength to battle against his sinful impulses and vices. 

The parts of Temperance

Temperance has several parts, or sub-virtues, each of which are opposed by various vices: 

The Virtue of Humility

The Virtue 0f Meekness

The Virtue of Abstinence/Sobriety

The Virtue of Chastity

The Virtue of Diligence

The Virtue of Self-Control

The Virtue of Studiousness