Jacques Maritain Center : Elements of Moral Theology


§ 1. Temperance.

Is temperance a virtue?

Human virtue is that which inclines us to what is according to reason. Now temperance means a rational government of certain desires and pleasures; it is plainly, therefore, a virtue.

(1) It might be objected, indeed, that no virtue is opposed to natural inclination, because there is in man a natural aptitude for virtue, while temperance holds one back from natural pleasures.

But nature inclines to that which is suitable for each creature; and man, accordingly, desires that gratification which is suitable to his nature. But man as man is rational, and consequently the pleasures which are suited to his nature are those which are according to reason. Temperance does not withhold him from these, and so it does not oppose the inclination of human nature, but rather harmonizes with it. What it does oppose is the inclination of bestial nature which is not subject to reason.

(2) Again, it has been said that all the virtues are connected with one another; but some seem to be temperate who lack other virtues; they may be miserly, or cowardly, etc.

But the perfect virtue of temperance cannot exist without prudence, the common ground of all the moral virtues, which every vicious man lacks. Those, then, who have not the other virtues, but are slaves to their opposite vices, have not the virtue of temperance, even if they lead temperate lives out of natural disposition or acquired habit. Such imperfect virtue lacks that rational ground which constitutes the perfect virtue.

(3) To every virtue corresponds some spiritual gift; what gift corresponds to temperance, if it be a virtue? I answer, godly fear, by which one is restrained from sinful carnal pleasures. "My flesh trembleth for fear of Thee" (Ps. cxix. 120).

Is temperance a special virtue?

The word may be used for that general moderation which right reason imposes on all human operations and passions, which is common to all moral virtues, drawing away from all those things which allure appetite contrary to reason. But in a more limited sense we now employ the word for a special virtue which has its special object; viz., those desires and pleasures which most allure man from the right path, the rule of reason, and the Divine law. The beauty of virtue is especially attributed to temperance for two reasons; first, because it consists in a well-governed and suitable proportion of things which is the very idea of beauty; but also because those things which temperance restrains in man are the lowest part of his nature, the bestial part. By these a man is most debased, and temperance is comely and honourable in repelling that baseness.

Temperance is concerned with sensuous concupiscences, their attendant pleasures, and the sorrow for the absence of these.

We have already seen that moral virtues defend reason against repugnant passions. But the motion of the passions is two-fold; one, in seeking sensible and corporeal goods; the other, in avoiding sensible and corporeal evils. The first is chiefly repugnant to reason through immoderation; for sensible and corporeal goods in themselves are not repugnant to reason, but rather serve it as instruments which reason uses to attain its proper end; but they are repugnant when sense-appetite aims at them in an irrational manner. Here, then, is the office of moral virtues; sc., to govern those passions which seek after the good. This is the field of temperance, including the sorrows which arise from the aboence of those pleasures.

But if we consider the desires and pleasures of the senses, we find a wide difference among them. Some belong to the means for preserving the life of the individual or that of the race. These concern the senses of touch and taste. The desires and the pleasures of these senses are the most vehement, and temperance is the virtue which governs them. Sight, hearing, even smell, belong to a higher sphere, and serve nobler purposes. In the brute, indeed, these higher senses are the mere auxiliaries of the touch and taste. And so far temperance in man may, consequently, direct them. But their proper pleasures are not connected with the preservation of human life, and do not fall under the control of temperance in its restricted sense.

Spiritual pleasures, also, are in their own nature greater than corporeal pleasures; but not being perceived by sense, they do not so vehemently affect sense-appetite, and do not, as spiritual pleasures, need to be restrained in the same way. Restraint is required only when they hinder another higher and more obligatory pleasure.

The rule of temperance is based on the necessities of this present life.

Moral virtue is good in its following the order of reason. But this order of reason chiefly consists in its ordering for the end; and the end itself is the rule for the means. Now all the pleasures of touch and taste have for their end some necessity of life. And, therefore, temperance takes this necessity as the rule of the measures which it uses, employing those pleasures as the needs of life require.

(1) But it may be objected that if corporeal necessity were the rule of temperance, whoever should gratify himself with any pleasure beyond the absolute necessity of nature, which is contented with very little, would exceed the rule, and sin.

But necessity must be understood in its wider signification. That is absolutely necessary without which a thing cannot in any way exist; as food is necessary for an animal. But that also is necessary without which a thing cannot suitably exist. And temperance has in view this kind of necessity as well as the first. "The temperate man feels moderate and proper desire for all those pleasant things which conduce to health or a sound habit of body" (Nic. Eth. iii. 11).

But of those things which are not necessary in this second way some are impediments to health or good condition, and these the temperate uses in no manner, for that would be a sin against temperance. But there are others which are not such impediments, and these he uses moderately according to time and place, and conformity to those with whom he associates.

(2) But it might be objected again that if bodily needs were the rule of temperance, whoever should employ any pleasure on account of bodily need, say, for the sake of health, would be free from sin, for no one attaining to the rule is sinning; but that this is manifestly untrue. But it has been said that temperance views necessity according to what is convenient for life. Now this depends not only on what is fitting for the body, but also on fitness according to station and means of living and other outward things, and still more it depends on what is honourably fitting. "The temperate man feels the same desire for those other pleasures which do not hinder health, etc., which are not contrary to the hononrable nor beyond his means" (Nic. Eth., loc. cit.).

Why is temperance called a cardinal virtue?

The moderation which is requisite in every virtue is especially laudable in the pleasures of touch and taste, both because such pleasures are more natural to us and therefore more difficult to restrain, and because their objects are more necessary in this present life. This fact entitles temperance to a place among the principal virtues. But in the scale of virtues it does not rank as high as justice or fortitude, because it is primarily self-regarding, and virtues are higher which have a higher object than our individual self.

Insensibility, or false asceticism (insensibilitas).

Everything which is contrary to natural order is vicious. But nature has attached pleasure to those operations which are necessary for human life (or its well-being). Therefore natural order requires that man use those pleasures so far as is necessary for human conservation, whether of the individual or of the species. If any one, therefore, should so shun pleasure as to avoid those things which are necessary for nature's preservation, he would sin by his repugnance to the natural order.

And yet from such pleasures it is sometimes laudable or even necessary to abstain in order to attain some end. Thus, for the sake of bodily health some abstain from some pleasures of eating and drinking, or from venereal pleasures; and, again, on account of some work undertaken, as athletes and soldiers. In like manner, penitents for their souls' health use as a kind of diet abstinence from pleasures; and men who wish to have time for contemplation and for Divine things must withdraw from carnal desires. None of these are involved in the vice of insensibility or false asceticism, because they follow right reason.

So Daniel in the heathen court abstained from pleasures of sense, not abhorring them on their own account as evil in themselves, but for a laudable end.

Because man cannot use his reason without employing his sensuous faculties, which require a bodily organ, man must support his body in order to use his reason. But the body is sustained through pleasurable operations; and, therefore, the good of reason cannot exist in man if he abstain from all pleasures. This necessity is more or less according as the act of reason more or less requires the corporeal virtue. Therefore men who have undertaken spiritual contemplation and the labour of transmitting spiritual good to other men may laudably abstain from many pleasures from which those whose office is different laudably do not abstain.


Why does Aristotle (Nic. Eth. iii. 12) call it a "childish" vice? He does not mean that children are peculiarly subject to intemperance, but he uses figurative language. Intemperance is the sin of excessive concupiscence, which is like a child in three respects (1) Like a child, concupiscence seeks what is base. Beautiful and goodly is what is ordained according to reason; but, like the child, concupiscence does not listen to reason. (2) If the child he left to his own will, he grows self-willed; so concupiscence if satisfied increases in strength. "While lust is served, habit is formed; and while habit is not resisted, necessity is produced " (S. Aug., Confess. viii. 5). (3) The child's amendment is brought about by coercion. "Withhold not correction from the child. . . . Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell" (Prov. xxiii. 13). So by resisting concupiscence we bring it down to due limits.

It may be said that children have only natural concupiscences, in which (if Aristotle is correct, iii. 11) comparatively "few err, and only in excess." But "natural" here means what nature requires for its preservation, in the desire of which there is no sin except in excess. But other things in which sin more abounds are incitements of concupiscence which men have devised, as delicately prepared foods and the ornaments of the female sex.

Intemperance is a graver sin than cowardice.

For the latter is impelled by the necessity of preserving life, while the former is concerned with pleasures not so necessary, and most largely with those which are invented and not strictly natural.

And, again, grave fears and sorrows stupefy the mind, which pleasure does not. Also, what is done through fear is not absolutely voluntary, having an exterior impulse; while what is done for the sake of pleasure is simply voluntary. The individual pleasurable thing is chosen by the intemperate, although he would not choose intemperance in general.

And, again, it is easier to employ remedies against intemperance than against cowardice; for the pleasures with which the former is concerned are life-long, and the temperate man can exert himself in the practice of his virtue at all seasons, which is not true of the other.

The sin of intemperance is most disgraceful (exprobabile).

Reproach is opposed to honour and glory. Honour is due to excellence and reproach to intemperance, because it is most repugnant to the dignity of man, tending to bring him down to the level of the brutes who share the same pleasures.

And, again, it is repugnant to that glory and beauty of the rational man which comes from his reason, and which intemperate pleasures obscure and defile.

(1) There are graver sins than intemperance, but carnal vices are of greater infamy because of their baseness.

(2) Sins of intemperance are the most common, since they are concerned with the most universal desires and uses of human life. And so men may be less ashamed of them (e.g., than of cowardice); but though custom may diminish the baseness and the infamy in the opinion of men, it does not change the nature of these vices.

(3) There are vices even more worthy of reproach than intemperance, which are most unnatural, and therefore most disgraceful.

How is temperance to be divided?

(1) There are two conditions which must concur in order that the act of virtue he completely exercised; these conditions are (a) the sense of shame (verecundia), through which one shuns the baseness which is contrary to temperance; and (b) the sense of the honourable, the becoming, throagh which one loves the beauty of temperance (partes integrales).

(2) The species of temperance are (a) abstinence respecting food, and (b) sobriety respecting drink. Respecting the pleasure of procreation there is (c) chastity; and as regards attendant pleasures, such as kisses, touches, and embraces, there is (d) modesty.

(3) There are secondary virtues which observe a similar limit with temperance in subordinate matter, where the limitation is not so difficult (partes potentiales). Like temperance, they put a bridle on appetite, first in the inward motions of the soul, next in the outward movements and actions of the body, and, lastly, in outward things.

As regards the first, the will is apt to be excited by the impulse of passion, and (e) continence, self-restraint (continentia), restrains this impulse; and though one suffer those immoderate concupiscences, still the will is not overcome by them.

Again, another inward motion is that of hope and rashness, which is governed or restrained by (f) humility. And the third motion is that of anger tending to vengeance, which is governed by (g) mildness or clemency (mansuetudo).

As regards the second, (h) a modest and decent demeanour governs and restrains the corporeal movements and actions, discerning what is to be done and what is to be left undone, how it is to be done, and how intercourse with others is to be conducted.

And as regards the third, (i) a judicious economy (parcitas) checks superfluities, and (k) simplicity of living (simplicitas) avoids too great delicacy of epicureanism and fastidiousness.

§ 2. The sense of shame (verecundia).

It is a fear of what is base, the object of reproach. But he who is perfect according to virtuous habit does not view any such thing as possible and difficult to avoid; neither does he actually do any base thing from which he may dread reproach. Hence, properly speaking, the sense of shame is not a virtue. But it is a laudable passion, and the term virtue is popularly extended to everything which is good and laudable in human acts or passions.

The habits of virtue are "accompanied by deliberate preference" (Nic. Eth. ii. 6); but the sense of shame is not a habit, but a passion or emotion; and its action is not from choice but from emotional impulse. It is not rational; it is, perhaps, seen in some of the higher brutes.

It has more to do with temperance than with any other cardinal virtue, not as a passion, for it is a species of fear, but as its inciting cause is what is base (which temperance restrains).

But if the sense of shame implies a laudable act, do not many such acts form a virtuous habit? Yes; or an acquired virtue through which shameful acts are avoided, but not a habit of feeling shame. From that habit of acquired virtue one is in such condition that he would be more ashamed if there were cause for shame (which there is not).

The object of shame is blame or reproach.

We have seen that shame is the fear of what is base. But there is a two-fold turpitude; one, of vice, the deformity of a voluntary act. This is not the direct object of shame, for fear is of an evil difficult to avoid, and what is voluntary does not come under this description.

But there is another turpitude, as it were, a penal turpitude, consisting in the blame of others, as glory consists in their honouring us. This blame is viewed as evil difficult to avoid, and therefore shame or the fear of turpitude primarily regards blame or reproach. And as blame is properly due to vice, consequently and indirectly shame applies to vicious turpitude.

Hence, "men are less ashamed of defects which do not come from their own fault."

But shame may have two effects; either one may cease to do vicious acts on account of the fear of blame, or in the vicious things which he does he may avoid public notice.

(1) But sometimes those who are doing nothing base suffer disgrace. "For Thy sake have I suffered reproof; shame hath covered my face" (Ps. lxix. 7). I answer that shame properly regards disgrace according as it is due to fault, to voluntary defect. But the reproaches which are laid upon one on account of virtue are despised by the virtuous man. So the apostles "rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the Name" (Acts v. 41).

But from imperfection of virtue it may happen that one is ashamed of reproaches which he receives on account of virtue; whereas, growing in virtue, he learns to contemn outward goods and evils. So the Lord said to the righteous, "Fear ye not the reproach of man, neither be ye dismayed at their revilings" (Isa. li. 7; 2 Tim. i. 8).

(2) But men are ashamed also of what is no sin. I answer that as honour, although it is not truly due to anything except virtue, yet is bestowed on any superiority, so, also, reproach, although it is properly due to fault only, yet, in men's opinion, is applied to any defect. And, therefore, men are ashamed of poverty, or low birth, or servitude, etc.

(3) But sometimes men are ashamed of doing virtuous acts (S. Luke ix. 26). No; not considered in themselves, but per accidens, owing to men's opinion of them, 01 to the wish to avoid appearance of presumption or hypocrisy. fr~

(4) But if shame were properly of base acts, a man should be more ashamed of the baser acts, which is not the case. Men may be ashamed of light offences and glory in the gravest (Ps. lii. 1). But sometimes it happens that graver sins are the less shameful, either because there is less turpitude in them, as spiritual sins are more grave and less shameful than carnal sins; or because there is more temporal good connected with them. So a man is more ashamed of cowardice than of rashness, and more ashamed of theft than of robbery (in Italy, perhaps; hardly in the United States, where defalcations may be condoned so readily), on account of some appearance of power in them.

Can shame be found even in virtuous men?

That any evil be not feared may happen from two causes, either because it is not esteemed as evil, or because one does not think it possible that it should reach himself, or that it is difficult to avoid. So shame may be absent from any one for two reasons; he may not regard his vices as things to blush at, and, in this way, men hardened in sin have no shame -- they rather glory in their sins. But, again, one may not apprehend turpitude as possible for himself, or as not easy to avoid; and in this way the aged and the virtuous are not shamefaced. But yet they are so disposed that if there should be in them anything disgraceful they would be ashamed of it.

Shame, then, is specially found in those who occupy a sort of middle position, who have some love of good, but are not secure against vice.

(1) But are not virtuous men ashamed of the appearance, at least, of evils which are not truly in them? The virtuous man avoids the appearance of evil, for to do so is part of God's law (1 Thess. v. 22).

(2) But shame is the fear of disgrace, and virtuous men may be dishonoured by being falsely defamed, or unworthily reproached; therefore they may feel shame at such things. Yes; the emotion of shame may, like that of any other passion, anticipate reason; but that gets its supremacy, and the virtuous man contemns infamies and reproaches which he does not deserve, having the "testimony of a good conscience."

§ 3. Abstinence, fasting.

Is abstinence a virtue?

The word taken simply may mean deprivation of food, and so it expresses neither virtue nor a virtuous act, but something morally indifferent. But, again, it may mean such a voluntary deprivation regulated by reason for good ends; e.g., conformity to those with whom one lives, or the demands of health.

(1) "The kingdom of God," indeed, "is not meat and drink" (Rom. xiv. 17). "Meat will not commend us to God; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse; nor if we eat, are we the better" (1 Cor. viii. 8).

But either of these, if it rationally spring from faith and God's love, does pertain to the kingdom of God.

(2) But is not this rather a matter of dietetic science than of moral virtue? Yes; if you think simply of the bodily health. But if you consider the inward affections in relation to a rational good, the governing of the appetite for food pertains to the virtue of abstinence; and S. Augustine well says (Qu~st. Evang. ii. 11), "Virtue is not concerned with what one eats, or how much he eats, provided that he does so in conformity with those with whom he associates, and the demands of his own health. But virtue is concerned with the readiness and serenity of mind with which he goes without those things, whenever it is fitting or needful to do so."

(3) But it is said that impatience and pride are fostered by abstinence; can one virtue injure another? No; those vicious acts come from irrational abstinence. Right reason makes one abstain as he ought; sc., with cheerfulness of spirit and for good reason, sc., for God's glory, not for one's own.

Abstinence is a special virtue, because the special pleasures of the table naturally tend to withdraw man from rational good, both because those pleasures are great and because they are connected with the most pressing needs of life.

Is fasting an act of virtue?

An act is virtuous which is ordained through reason to some honourable good. Such the act of fasting may be. (1) It is done to repress fleshly concupiscences (2 Cor. vi. 5); (2) it is done that the mind may be more freely elevated to contemplate the most exalted things (Dan. x. 3); (3) it is done as a "satisfaction" for sins, as the Lord commands, saying (Joel ii. 12), "Turn ye unto Me with all your heart, and with fasting," etc. "Fasting purifies the soul, uplifts the mind, subjects the flesh to the spirit, makes the heart contrite and humble, disperses the clouds of concupiscence, extinguishes the fires of lusts, kindles the true light of chastity" (S. Aug., Serm. De Orat. et Jejun., 230 De Temp.).

(1) If fasting is a virtuous act, why is it not always acceptable with God? (Isa. lviii. 3). Because an act which in its kind is virtuous may become vicious from some of its attendant circumstances. So it is found in Isaiah's prophecy just referred to "Behold, in the day of your fast ye find your own pleasure, . . . ye fast for strife and contention," etc.

(2) This is not a question of quantity of food, as such, but of right reason. And reason judges that, for special cause, one may take less food than he ordinarily does; e.g., to avoid sickness, to accomplish more expeditiously some undertaking, and much rather to avoid spiritual evils and to attain spiritual goods.

But right reason does not subtract so much food that nature cannot be preserved. "It makes no difference whether you destroy yourself in a long or in a short time, because he offers a sacrifice from robbery who immoderately afflicts his body by too great lack of food or sleep" (S. Jerome). In like manner, right reason does not subtract so much food that a man is rendered incapable of doing the work set before him in life. S. Jerome, therefore, says again, "A rational man loses worthiness (dignitas) who prefers fasting to charity, or vigils to the integrity of his senses."

If, then, we use the word "abstinence" for the virtue under discussion, fasting is the act of that virtue. "Fasting from sin" is a figure of speech, meaning the abstaining from all injurious things, among which sins are included.

Is fasting commanded? Is it an obligation?

As the state has power to lay down statutes determinative of the law of nature in what concerns the common earthly utility, so the Church has power to lay down laws which pertain to the common benefit of the faithful in spiritual goods.

Now, fasting is useful to restrain and remove sin, and to raise the mind to spiritual things. And each one is bound by natural reason to use fasting so far as it is needful to him for these purposes. Fasting, in general, then, falls under the precepts of the law of nature. But the determination of the time and mode of fasting according to what is convenient and useful for Christian people falls under the precepts of positive law laid down by the Church.

(1) But if fasting is obligatory according to law, must it not everywhere and always be equally observed by all? Understand that fasting, in itself, is not desirable but it is medicinal or penal; it is rendered eligible by its being useful to some other end. Therefore, absolutely considered, it is not obligatory, but it is so for each one who needs such a remedy. Men in general do need it -- "In many things we all stumble (S. Jas. iii. 2); and "the flesh lusteth against the spirit" (Gal. v. 17) -- and, therefore, it was fitting that the Church decree some fasts to be observed by all, not as commanding that which is superfluous, but as determining n a special way what is necessary in general.

(2) But whoever transgresses against a commandment is guilty of mortal sin; if, then, fasting be commanded, do not all who break a fast incur the loss of salvation? Thus a great snare seems to be set for human feet. I answer that precepts set forth as general statutes do not bind all in the same manner, but as the end requires which the law-giver had in mind. If any one, in breaking the statute, contemn his authority, or hinder the end which that law-giver has in view, he sins mortally. But if from some reasonable cause he does not observe the statute, especially when the law-giver, if he were present, would not enforce it, such transgression is not mortal sin. Not all who do not keep the fasts of the Church sin mortally. Such persons may even, in good faith, think that they have sufficient cause for not observing the fast when such is not the case. Then there is no mortal sin, no intention of breaking the law of the Church.

(3) Church laws respecting fasting are not contrary to Christian liberty but rather in its favour by impeding the servitude of sin (Gal. v. 13).

Are all, then, bound to keep the fasts of the Church?

General laws are propounded according to the needs of the people as a whole. But if any special case arise which is repugnant to the observance of the law, the legislator does not intend to lay obligation in that case.

Discretion, however, is to be used. For if the case be perfectly evident, a man may lawfully at once set aside the observance of the statute in his case, especially if supported by custom, or if it be not possible to have ready recourse to authority in the question.

But if the case be doubtful he ought to refer it to a superior who has power of dispensation. This general principle applies to fasts instituted by the Church, to which all are obliged unless some special impediment exist.

(1) But the precepts of the Church are of obligation like those of God; for the Gospel says, "He that heareth you heareth Me" (S. Luke x. 16), and all are bound to keep the commands of God; therefore, all are bound to observe the fasts instituted by the Church. I reply that the commandments of God are those of natural law which, in themselves, are necessary to salvation. But positive Church laws are of things not per se necessary to salvation, but only as ordained by the Church. And, therefore, there can be impediments -- weakness, necessity, greater good incompatible with fasting -- on account of which some persons are excused from fasting.

(2) What shall we say of children? In them, most of all (we may add, in the aged, also), there is evidently good reason for not fasting. Their feebleness makes them need to take food more frequently than older persons, though little at a time. Besides, they are growing, and need more food on that account. As long, then, as they are growing, they are not bound to observe the Church fasts. Still, it is convenient that even at that age they be exercised in self-denial suited to their tender years, which can be done without injury to health, if not rather beneficially.

(3) What shall we say of labourers and travellers? Are not spiritual things, such as the spiritual benefit of fasting, to be preferred to the temporal profits of bodily labour? Are not necessary things, like the statutes of the Church, to be preferred to unnecessary things, like travelling for pleasure, for profit, or even for spiritual ends? I answer that here we must make a distinction. If the travel or labour can be conveniently deferred or decreased without detriment to bodily health and what is required for the preservation of the bodily and spiritual life, the fasts of the Church are not to be omitted. But if there be need of making the journey immediately, and of taking food accordingly, or if exhausting bodily labour be imperative, whether for corporeal support or for something essential to spiritual life (e.g., long journeys with many sermons and addresses), and with these the fasts of the Church cannot be observed, a man is not bound to fast, because it does not seem to have been the intention of the Church in appointing them that through this other pious and more necessary things should be hindered. It seems, however, that in such cases recourse should be had to the dispensation of authority, unless where custom has already settled the matter. For the silence of those in authority seems to give consent.

(Note that the author, familiar with a mild climate, takes no account of such an inclement winter as that of the Northern United States and Canada. In a Lent when the thermometer is below the zero of Fahrenheit, and may vary thirty or forty degrees in an hour, the rules which would suit Italy would be evidently out of place according to that "right reason" which is called "common sense." Abstinence from flesh on the coast of Labrador might require a large supply of canned vegetables! -- J. J. E.)

Days and seasons of fasting.

The author only notices Lent, the ember-days, and the vigils of certain feasts. The American Church omits all vigils, but, like some parts of the Latin Church, adds the rogation days, and, like the whole Latin Church, all Fridays in the year, unless Christmas should fall on one of them, which one is an exception. The fast of Lent, says S. Thomas Aquinas, besides its general purpose of purifying the soul from sin and lifting it up to God in devotion, has special relation to preparing the faithful for a devout Easter. The ember-days are based on the Lord's own example (S. Luke vi.), and are primarily for those who confer and those who receive Holy Orders, but secondarily for the people in whose behalf Holy Orders are conferred.

Our rubric, indeed, names only two fasts, sc., Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, but calls all the others mentioned "days of fasting," and indicates one of the objects of fasting; sc., "abstinence suited to extraordinary acts and exercises of devotion." Abstinence seems to be used, not as S. Thomas Aquinas employs it, for the virtue of which fasting is a manifestation, but as a modified form of fasting itself. Its connection with penitence is implied, not clearly expressed.

But certainly it should not be overlooked that the American Church claims her right to make positive laws having Divine sanction and binding conscience, an authority as explicitly asserted as by any civil government or any other part of the Catholic Church. "The Church requires such a measure of abstinence," etc.

Our author gives three articles to the rules of fasting as they existed in the Western Church of his age; sc., one meal only each day, at about three P.M., with abstinence from flesh, eggs, milk, and its products. Wine and spirituous drinks are not included in the prohibition ("potus non solvit jejunium"), on the ground that the stimulus is transitory, while the solid food prohibited, in addition to its nutritive qualities, is more stimulating to animal desires than other food is.

It is evident that these rules of fasting are widely different from those of the early Church, and are not those of the Latin Church to-day. And I name the Latin Church, because the Anglican Church lays down no positive law beyond the general statement that she requires such a measure of abstinence as is more especially suited to extraordinary acts and exercises of devotion.

First, then, as regards the time for ending the fast. The hour for the breakfast, "déjeuner," being in the author's age near noon, as is still common in Latin countries, with some coffee or chocolate and a light solid addition, "not exceeding four ounces on days of fasting," and the hour for breaking the fast on days of fasting being about three P.M., the special fast would be about three hours in duration. This, with our habits, would bring the principal meal of the day on or a little before noon.

Such was the rule of the Western Church in the middle ages; one meal only in twenty-four hours. S. Thomas Aquinas knows nothing of an allowed "collation," or half meal, in the evening, unless it exchange with the other, and become a light breakfast at noon, with a full dinner in the evening.

Little need be added concerning the kind of food on days of abstinence. The object of Church fasts being in part to repress carnal concupiscences, whenever the Church has laid down express rules, those articles of food have been partially or altogether interdicted which are most pleasant and most stimulating. There is more superfluous nutriment in a dinner of flesh meat than in an equal quantity of fish; other things being equal, the former is more agreeable, although very delicate dishes may in this regard evade the intention of the law while its letter is observed.

On the same grounds, it is a more rigid abstinence to refrain from eggs, milk, and its products. If such stricter abstinence be observed at all, it belongs to Lent as a time of more rigid fasting.

So far we may follow in our author's steps. Of stimulating condiments and superfluous luxuries on the table he says nothing.

Finally, in the absence of explicit law, it is evident that episcopal or pastoral counsel is the only guide in addition to a Christian man's sober judgment.

§ 4. Gluttony, sobriety, ebriety.

Is gluttony (gula) a sin?

It is the inordinate appetite of eating and drinking. Now, that appetite is inordinate which departs from that rational order in which the good of moral virtue consists. Anything is sin which is contrary to virtue; therefore gluttony is a sin.

(1) The Lord said (S. Matt. xv. 11), "Not that which entereth into the mouth defileth a man;" i.e., food according to its own substance and nature has no spiritual influence. But inordinate concupiscence of food and drink does spiritually defile a man.

(2) But no one sins in what he cannot avoid; and "who is there who does not take some food beyond the limits of necessity?" (S. Aug., Confess. x. 31). But understand that the vice of gluttony does not consist in the quantity of food which is taken, but in a concupiscence not regulated by reason. And, therefore, if any one exceed in quantity of food or drink, not through concupiscence but through mistaken judgment, that is not due to gluttony but to ignorance. Gluttony is found when the pleasures of the table lead one consciously to exceed his proper limit.

(3) But the first motion of sin partakes of the nature of sin, while there is no sin at all in hunger and thirst. Yes; but man has two kinds of appetites; one which belong to his "vegetative" soul, in which there cannot be virtue or vice, because they are not subject to reason. Such appetites are hunger and thirst.

But there are other appetites which belong to the sensuous nature, and the first beginnings of inordination in these "have the nature of sin." (See the 9th Anglican "Article of Religion.")

Is gluttony a mortal sin?

The order of reason in regulating concupiscence admits of a two-fold view. Either it regulates the means to the end when they are not duly proportioned to that end, or it looks to the end itself when concupiscence turns a man away from his due end.

If, then, the inordinate desire in the form of gluttony turn one away from the ultimate end, gluttony is a mortal sin (S. Luke xxi. 34; IRom. xiii. 13; Gal. v. 21). This happens when a man is so addicted to the pleasures of the table as his end (" his god is his belly ") that he despises God, being ready to act against God's commandments in order to obtain his gratifications.

But if the inordinate concupiscence only concern the means to an end -- namely, that one too much desires the pleasures of the table, but still would do nothing against God's law on this account -- it is venial sin.{2}

(1) Not all mortal sins are directly against the Decalogue, but only those which contain injustice.

(2) Gluttony, in turning one away from the ultimate end of man, is contrary to charity. This makes it mortal sin.

Is gluttony the greatest of sins?

(Be careful to note that the word in popular use is limited to one very gross manifestation of this sin. In Moral Theology we look, also, at the more refined sins of society, all "revelling and drunkenness," all epicurean sensuality. See the next article.) The gravity of a sin depends upon three considerations first, and principally, the subject matter (materia) of the sin. From this point of view sins respecting Divine things are the greatest sins. And the vice of gluttony is not the greatest, for it concerns things which belong to bodily sustenance. But next is to be considered the one who sins; and in this regard the sin of gluttony is rather lessened than aggravated, both on account of the necessity of taking food, and on account of the difficulty of distinguishing and controlling what is fitting in such matters. Thirdly, we are to consider the resulting effects. And in this respect gluttony is a very grave sin, inasmuch as it is the parent of various mortal sins -- e.g., lust, proud boastings, contentions, quarrels, etc.

(1) The penalties of this sin are many and great, either on account of its cause, as in the expulsion from Paradise, or by reason of the sins which follow from it.

(2) A man injures himself by this sin; but this is accidental so far as he is concerned. He does not intend to injure himself, but to gratify his appetite; and yet the sin is aggravated by the injurious consequences, which could be foreseen.

Diverse circumstances distinguish diverse species of this sin. Inordinate concupiscence may be marked by the kind of food, an epicurean search for dainties, or over nicety in their preparation, or excess in their quantity; or, again, in the very act of taking food, the unseasonable time, or the eagerness, which does not proceed from hunger, but from this sin.

Gluttony is a capital sin.

Let it be remembered that from a capital vice other vices spring having it for their final cause, inasmuch as it is an end greatly sought for, and hence from desire of it men are excited to sin in manifold ways. Now, an end is greatly desired which promises some sort of felicity, as pleasure does. And as the pleasures of touch and taste are the chief sensual pleasures, the vice of gluttony takes its place (with lust) among the capital sins. Food, indeed, is naturally sought for as means to an end -- sc., the preservation of human life -- and a large part of human labour is devoted to this necessary end. But the sin of gluttony is directed to the pleasures of food rather than to food in itself.

But a capital sin, which has an end in the highest degree sought for, does not necessarily take the highest place in the catalogue of sins. Its children are five -- foolish gladness, scurrility, filthiness, gabbling words, dulness of mind.


In a general sense the word is applied to various matters (as in Tit. ii. 12), but, used more strictly, it applies to the well-governed use of drinks whose excess can intoxicate. And it is a special virtue, because it removes a special impediment to reason.

Is the use of wine altogether unlawful?

The apostle implies a negative in what he says to Timothy (1 Tim. v. 23), "Be no longer a drinker of water, but use a little wine," etc. No food or drink is in itself unlawful, according to the Lord's words (S. Matt. xv. 11), "Not that which entereth into the mouth defileth a man." Still, per accidens, drinking wine can become unlawful; sometimes from the condition of the drinker, if wine easily injure him, or he have made a vow not to touch it; sometimes from the manner of using it, when it is taken immoderately; and sometimes with reference to other men (especially in many parts of the United States), if they are scandalized by its use (Rom. xiv. 21).

When the apostle says (Tit. ii. 6), "Young men likewise exhort to be sober-minded," he intimates that the young have special need of this virtue for the restraining of concupiscences. But when he commands the aged men to be temperate (Tit. ii. 2), and says (1 Tim. iii. 3) that a bishop must be temperate and sober-minded, he intimates that they have special need of a clear head and of restraining what impedes the use of reason.

Ebriety. -- Is drunkenness a sin?

It may mean the penal defect brought about through excess in intoxicating drinks which take away the use of reason; or "ebriety" may mean the act by which any one puts himself in such a condition, which may happen in more than one way. From inexperience of the strength of the drink, ebriety may happen without any fault on the part of him who uses it, especially if there have heen no negligence on his part. Thus Noah may have become intoxicated through inexperience in the strength of wine.

But, again, inebriation may be a species of gluttony, arising from inordinate concupiscence as well as the use of the wine. This is a sin, for there are two species of gluttony, revelling and drunkenness.

The resulting defect is involuntary, for no one wishes to be drunk; but the immoderate use of intoxicating drink, in which consists the sin, is voluntary.

What shall we say of him who offers wine to another? He may be ignorant of the condition of his neighbour, unaware of any evil result; certainly he does no wrong act. But if he does know this, both are sinning, the one in offering as the other in taking what produces the evil result.

Is ebriety a mortal sin?

If one he ignorant of the strength of the drink, and that what he takes is immoderate, there is no sin at all. Or he may notice that the quantity is great, immoderate, but not suppose that its strength will affect him; then ebriety may he venial sin. Or, again, both circumstances may be observed -- sc., the immoderation and the strength -- and yet one may choose rather to be intoxicated than to abstain from drinking. Such a one is properly an inebriate, because mortal sins get their character from the intention. Such inebriation is mortal sin, because a man willingly and knowingly deprives himself of the use of reason by which he may do good works and decline from sin. It is mortal sin to commit one's self consciously to the peril of sinning mortally.

(Qu.: May one submit to his physician, who designs to produce this result as beneficial in dangerous sickness?)

Is ebriety the gravest of sins?

The greater the good which is taken away by any evil, the greater is that evil. But it is manifest that Divine good is greater than human good. Therefore sins which are directly against God, are graver than intoxication, which is directly opposed to the good of human reason.

(1) S. Chrysostom says that nothing is such a friend to the devil as ebriety and lasciviousness; but this is true not because they are graver than other sins, but because they are most common, men being prone to them through concupiscences which originate in their nature.

(2) But a thing is called sin because it excludes the good of reason, which is what ebriety does in the highest degree. But the evil is greater in what is contrary to reason than in what temporarily takes away its use. For the use of reason which inebriation takes away may be either good or bad; but the good of virtues which is taken away by what is contrary to reason is always good.

Does intoxication excuse from sin?

Distinguish once more between the resulting evil and the preceding act. So far as the resulting defect which hinders the use of reason is concerned, ebriety excuses from sin, because through ignorance it causes the involuntary.

And, again, we must make a distinction as regards the preceding act. For if the inebriation followed from it without sin (say, altogether inadvertently, involuntarily, as may have been the case with Lot), then the resulting sin is entirely exculpated.

But if the preceding act (the taking intoxicating drink) was culpable, then the resulting sin is not wholly excusable, because it is rendered voluntary by the preceding voluntary act, and inasmuch as the sin is the consequence of heing engaged in an illicit act.

But the resulting sin is diminished in guilt, as the voluntary is diminished.

(1) But the inebriate may be twice punished; i.e., heavily punished once for the crime of drunkenness, and again for the injury done when he is drunk. And the public utility which requires the repression of injuries may justly be very strict in this matter.

(2) We are not making one sin an excuse for another; but the loss of reason and self-control, the resulting defect, is viewed as partial excuse.

(3) Concupiscence is no excuse for sin, because it does not totally hinder the use of reason, as intoxication does; and yet passion may diminish sin, because sins of infirmity are less than sins of malice.

§ 5. Chastity, modesty, virginity.

Is chastity a virtue?

Since chastity signifies the government of the concupiscence of venereal pleasures according to the dictates of right reason, it is manifestly a special virtue, having its special subject. So it is opposed to the vice of lust. It governs the body, indeed, but its immediate subject is the inward motions of special concupiscences. The body may be violated by violence, but if the soul remain inviolate, the violence of another's lust cannot take away even the sanctity of the body (S. Aug., De Civ. Dei, i. 18).

The bodily purity of an unbeliever is not truly the perfect virtue of chastity, for it is not referred to its due end and virtues are distinguished from vices, not by their acts but by their ends. " One is not truly virtuous unless he be righteous; and he is not truly righteous unless he live by faith" (S. Aug., Contra Julian. v. 3).

But the word chastity, like its correlative, "fornication," has in Scripture use a wider and metaphorical signification. For in the union of the soul with certain things there are pleasures which may be admitted or resisted or restrained. (See 2 Cor. xi. 2, and Jer. iii. 1.)

We have considered temperance as applicable to all pleasurable desires of the senses of touch and taste. Abstinence was one species of temperance, referring to the pleasures of the table, the actions by which the individual is preserved. Now we have another species of temperance, relating to the actions by which the human race is preserved.

Modesty applies not only to the acts which chastity governs, but to any signs of them, as immodest looks, kisses, embraces. Modesty, then, is not a distinct virtue, but a certain circumstance of the virtue of chastity. (Every chaste person is also modest.) Shame has reference to every base act, but most of all to those which have most turpitude as least under reason's control. Thus shame and reproach reach their climax in the sphere of modesty.

Virginal chastity is not so much bodily purity as the fixed purpose of the soul to abstain perpetually from venereal pleasures. The "material" part is the sensible pleasures which are renounced; the "formal" part is the purpose of the mind (which purpose is the essence of any moral act).

If, then, those pleasures are experienced contrary to the consent of the mind and its fixed purpose, through violence, or in sleep, or from infirmity of nature, the essence of virginity is not lost, because such pollution does not happen through lewdness, which virginity excludes.

Is virginity illicit?

In human acts, that is vicious which is against right reason. But this demands that one use the means for any end in such measure as agrees with that end. Now, man's good is three-fold; first, outward things, like riches; next, corporeal goods; and, lastly, spiritual goods, among which those of the contemplative life are superior to those of the active life (Nic. Eth. x. 7), as the Lord said (S. Luke x. 43), "Mary hath chosen the good part."

Of these goods the outward are ordained for the service of the body; and those of the body for the soul; and those of the active life for the contemplative life.

Right reason, then, uses each of these in its proper place. Hence if any one abstain from possessing anything which it would be otherwise a good to possess in order that he may provide for his bodily health or attend to the contemplation of the truth, this is not vicious, but is according to right reason.

In like manner, if any one abstain from corporeal pleasures in order that he may more freely contemplate the truth, he follows right reason. But for this purpose holy virginity abstains from all venereal pleasures, in order that it may give itself with less distraction to Divine contemplation; for the apostle says (1 Cor. vii. 34), "She that is unmarried is careful for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit; but she that is married is careful for the things of the world, how she may please her husband."

No sin can lawfully be counselled, But virginity is counselled (1 Cor. vii. 25). Therefore it is not illicit.

(1) But is not everything which is contrary to nature's laws illicit? And is not the law of nature promulgated in Gen. i. 28, viz., "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth"? And, therefore, as he would sin who should abstain from all food to his own injury, does not he sin who violates this command, against the good of the race?

I answer that an obligation may be due in either of two ways; either it must be fulfilled by each one, and can be omitted by none without sin; or it may be due from the people as a whole, and then each one of that multitude is not bound to such fulfilment. For many things are necessary for the people as a whole which no one of them is sufficient for, but which are in part accomplished by one, in part by another. The precept of the law of nature concerning eating must necessarily be obeyed by every one. But the precept concerning the continuation of the human race regards the multitude, which needs not only this, but also spiritual advancement. Therefore the continuance of the race is sufficiently provided for by the great mass of the community who are married; but the glory and beauty and salvation of the race may be promoted by those who, abstaining from marriage, have more leisure for the contemplation of Divine things. Thus in an army some guard the camp, some carry standards, some use the rifle, some look after the wounded -- all these things are due for the whole and from the whole, but they cannot be fulfilled by one.

(2) But is not this going to extremes -- sc., instead of moderating pleasures, abstaining from them altogether? It would be so if it were done contrary to right reason, as by one abhorring pleasures in themselves, an unnatural savage. But we are not considering such an abstinence.

Is virginity a virtue?

Its essence is the purpose spoken of above, and that purpose is rendered laudable by the end; sc., the having leisure for Divine things. Virginity, therefore, is a virtue, and a special one having its own material part. It is related to chastity as magnificence is to liberality; the one more general, the other of rarer obligation, but of special excellence.

We have seen (see page 73) that he who has one virtue has all, which seems to present a difficulty; sc., that none but virgins can enter the kingdom of heaven. This, of course, is only apparent difficulty, for the connection of virtues does not depend upon their outward ("material") part but on their inward essence ("formal part"); they are united in charity or prudence. A virtuous man may have opportunity for the exercise of one virtue who has not for another, as the poor can practise temperance but not magnificence. So the virtuous man may be prepared in mind for the virginal state if it were permitted to him, even as one in prosperity is prepared to bear adversities with equanimity; and without this preparation of mind no one can be a virtuous man.

Penitence does not undo the consequences of sin. If the magnificent man have wasted his goods, penitence will not restore them. So he who has violated his purpose of virginity by yielding to fleshly pleasures can never be as though he had not sinned; but penitence may restore the broken purpose, the essence of the virtue.

If virginity mean a pious and rational purpose of remaining unwedded -- a virtuous purpose -- it is evident that it cannot be lost without sin.

Is virginity a higher state than conjugal continence?

The apostle (1 Cor. vii. 33, seq.) makes virginity a matter of counsel as being a greater good; and this with reason, both because divine good is higher than human good, and the good of the soul is preferable to corporeal good, and because the good of the contemplative life is preferable to that of the active life.

Now, religions virginity is ordained for the good of the soul in a contemplative life, "caring for the things of the Lord;" while marriage is ordained, first, for earthly good, the increase of the human race, and, next, for the active life, because the wedded pair must necessarily he "careful for the things of the world."

Although virginity is in itself better than conjugal continence, yet the wedded may be better than the virgin, both in the prepared mind, and in other superior saintliness.

Is virginity the highest of virtues?

It is so in its kind; i.e., as respects chastity, it is superior to that of widows or of the married. But absolutely it is not so. For the end always excels the means to that end; and the more efficaciously a thing is ordained for the end, the better it is. But the end which alone renders virginity laudable is freedom for Divine things. Hence, the theological virtues and the virtue of religion, whose acts are about Divine things, are preferable to virginity. The virgins "follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth," because they most closely in that regard imitate Christ, but other virtues make them come nearer to God by spiritual saintliness.

§ 6. Lust (luxuria).

Lust is inordinate desire of venereal pleasures. In a more general sense it is extended to excess in other sensuous pleasures.

These pleasures are not necessarily sinful.

Sin in human acts, as has been often said, is what is contrary to the order of reason. This order of reason ordains each thing suitably to its end. Therefore there is no sin if the end be good, and if the means be used as reason dictates, in fitting manner and order. But as it is a good that the corporeal nature of the individual be preserved, so it is a superior good that the human species be preserved. And, therefore, as the use of food is free from sin if it be employed in due manner and order, so, also, the marriage bed in due manner and order for the ends of its institution.

But among the works of the flesh are enumerated (Gal. v. 19) the sins of lust. The more necessary a thing is, the more the order of reason must be preserved in it; and, consequently, the more vicious it is if the order of reason be set aside. But lust exceeds the order and manner of reason in venereal pleasures; therefore, it is a sin.

Man is not the absolute lord of his own body. "Ye are not your own, for ye were bought with a price; glorify God, therefore, in your body" (1 Cor. vi. 20). He that inordinately, through lust, abuses his body, does injury to God, who is the Lord of our body.

Lust is a capital sin.

For it has an end greatly sought after, through desire of which man proceeds to perpetrate many sins, which all spring from that fountain of vice. The end of lust is venereal pleasure in sense-appetite, most sought after, both on account of its vehemence, and on account of its being a "connatural" concupiscence.

Its children are blindness of mind, want of consideration, rashness, inconstancy, selfishness, hatred of God, love of the world, dread and despair of the future state (Eph. iv. 19), disorders of both reason and will.{3}

Sins of lust may be sins against nature when the producing of offspring is prevented; or the due bringing up of children is hindered, as in fornication; or the honour due to another is violated, as in incest; or injury is done to another's right, as in adultery, seduction, or rape. Here are six species of these sins of uncleanness and lasciviousness.

Is simple fornication a mortal sin?

The Word of God directly answers that question. "They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal. v. 21). Every sin which is committed directly against the life of man is mortal. But fornication is an inordinate act which tends to the injury of that life which would naturally proceed from such sexual intercourse of the unmarried with the unmarried. For the due rearing of the human child not only the mother's care is required, but even more that of the father, by whom the child is to be supported and protected. We may find the law of nature even in beasts, where father and mother are both needed for the offspring, and promiscuous concubinage is not found. Still more is promiscuous concubinage contrary to the nature of man. His nature requires that he remain wth one female, not for a brief period, but for a long time, or even for his whole life. The man needs to be certain of his own progeny, because of his responsibility for that progeny. This determination to one settled female is matrimony, a part of the law of nature.

Because sexual intercourse is ordained for the common good of society, and common goods fall under the determination of law, consequently matrimony is rightly and necessarily determined by human law.

Fornication is none the less mortal sin if any one sufficiently provide for the bringing up of an illegitimate child; because that which falls under the cognizance of law is judged by what ordinarily happens, and not according to that which may happen in some exceptional case.

(1) It may be asked why, if this is mortal sin, it is placed, in Acts xv. 20, with such things as eating blood and things strangled, which certainly is not mortal sin. But the object of the decree was to reconcile Jewish and Gentile Christians. And while the Gentiles were warned against the sin of lust, which was commonly held to be no sin, they were also bidden to respect the scruples of their Jewish brethren concerning what is not in itself illicit.

(2) It is not merely inordinate concupiscence which makes this sin to be mortal, for a single act of this nature is inordinate; it may have the result of injury to progeny, and be tke cause of separation from the love of God.

This sin being against the good of a future child, is graver than sins like theft, which are against outward goods.

But it is less than sins like unbelief, which are directly against God, and sin like homicide, against the life of a human being already born.

(1) It comes, indeed, from the most immoderate of desires, but what aggravates sin consists in the inclination of the will. Passion in sense-appetite diminishes sin, because the greater the passion from whose impulse the sin is committed the lighter is the sin. "Through lust of the flesh the human race is more subjected to the devil than through any other" (Isidore).

(2) "He that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body" (1 Cor. vi. 18); but this does not make it the gravest of sins; for reason in man is of more consequence than his body, and if any other sin is still more repugnant to reason, it is a graver sin.

(3) But the sin of fornication is against the good of the human race, and against Christ. "Shall I take away the members of Christ, and make them the members of a harlot?" (1 Cor. vi. 15). But homicide is still more repugnant to the good of the race, and Divine good is greater than the good of the human race. Therefore, sins which are against God are greater. Fornication is not sin directly against God, but like all other mortal sins it is so in its result. But as the members of our body are the members of Christ, so, also, our spirit is one with Him (1 Cor. vi. 17). Hence, also, spiritual sins like heresy are more against Christ than fornication.

May there be mortal sin in touches and kisses?

Some things may be mortal sin in themselves, "in their own species." In this way kisses, embraces, touches are not mortal sin, for they may be made without inordinate desire, either according to the customs of the people, or on account of some necessity or reasonable cause.

But, again, some things may be mortal sin from their cause; as he who gives alms in order to seduce some one into heresy mortally sins because of his corrupt intention. But it has been already seen (see page 89) that not only consent to the act of mortal sin, but consent to the pleasure of it, is itself mortal sin. And, therefore, since fornication and, still more, other species of lust are mortal sins, consent even to the sinful pleasure is also sin of the same kind. Therefore lustful embraces and kisses fall under the same condemnation. In themselves they do not hinder the good of human offspring, but they spring from the root of this evil.

Is nocturnal pollution mortal sin?

Not in itself, for every sin depends upon the judgment of reason. The first motions of sensuality are sinful only as they can be repressed by reason. If the judgment of reason is removed from them, sin also is removed. {4}

The sleeper is visited by images over which he has no control, and, therefore, what he does in sleep, without any choice of his, is not his fault.

But this is not the end of the matter, for we must consider the cause of the pollution. It may be purely corporeal, the body relieving itself of superfluities, and, through the brain, acting upon the imagination, so that the dream is the result of the bodily action.

But all this may be due to some culpable cause, as excess in eating or drinking (stimulating drinks), and then the cause makes the pollution also culpable. But if there were no culpable cause, then the pollution is not sinful in itself nor in its cause.

But, again, previous waking thoughts may produce the same result, whether these thoughts have heen in the way of duty, or whether they sprang from voluntary thought of carnal vices with desire of such gratifications. Here, again, the gravity of the cause makes the sleeping act also gravely culpable. Whereas, if the thought were in the course of scientific study, or accompanied by detestation of the sin, then the pollution is not sinful in itself nor in its cause.

Again, there may be an external cause, if evil spirits have power to excite the imagination or the brain. And this, indeed, may be with preceding sin -- sc., neglect of due preparation to resist the illusions of evil spirits. This is the spirit of the Compline hymn: "Drive far from us our ghostly foe, That no pollution we may know."

Our conclusion, then, is that nocturnal pollution is never sin, but it is sometimes the result of previous sin.

Observe that the action of reason is not entirely suspended in sleep. In the dream the soul observes and apprehends, but no longer, in free choice or moral judgment, exerts dominion over the images presented to it.

What the author further says on this question of the various forms of lust may be greatly abridged. If simple fornication be deadly sin, much more those other forms of lust which add new deformity to it. In seduction, and still more in rape, there is the injury done to another and to a family, which demands satisfaction according to the laws of God and man (Ex. xxii. 16; Deut. xxii. 28).

In adultery, beside these, there is the further injury to a husband's or a wife's right, and to the claims of offspring.

A still graver violation of nature's law is incest; for (1) by that law we are bound to honour those nearest to us by ties of blood (Lev. xviii. 7); (2) by that law a natural check is put upon the familiar intercourse of members of the same family, which is guarded against unbridled lust; and (3) familiar intercourse with a husband's or a wife's nearest kin is rendered possible, which would be prevented if there were no such law rendering future marriage impossible.

At the same time observe that this impediment of sexual intercourse among those who are nearly related by consanguinity or affinity is partly founded on natural reason, as between parents and children; and is partly, also, founded on custom and Divine and human law, which have varied respecting what is decent and indecent. And remember that what is ordained for the common good, as sexual intercourse is, falls under the direction of human law.{5}

Sacrilege of persons again adds a new deformity to those already mentioned -- sc., when a person has taken a vow of perpetual virginity, and that vow to God is broken.

Finally, there remain those unnamable sins, unnatural deeds of darkness (Rom. i.), against right reason, against nature, and the ends for which sexual intercourse has been instituted by God, some of which are the prevalent curse of Protestant communities to-day. In violating nature, which is God's order and law, injury is done to God Himself.

§ 7. Continence, incontinence.

Is continence (self-restraint. egkrateia) a virtue?

The word is used by some to express abstinence from venereal pleasure. So understood, the chief and perfect continence is virginity, which has been already shown to be a virtue, under certain conditions. Vidual continence comes next to it, and is to be estimated by the same principles.

But others (see Aristotle, Nic. Eth., lib. vii.), understand by continence the resisting of vehement depraved concupiscences. So understood, continence has somewhat of the nature of virtue, inasmuch as reason is steadfast against passions so as not to be misled by them; but still it does not (as temperance does) reach the perfect idea of moral virtue, according to which even sense-appetite is so subdued to reason that vehement passions contrary to reason do not arise in it. But using the word virtue loosely for any principle of laudable actions, we may call continence a virtue.

It may be said that self-restraint can be used badly, which is not true of virtue. But man is truly man according to reason. And a man, properly speaking, uses self-restraint when he keeps himself to the dictates of right reason. He only is truly continent, not he who follows perverted reason. But depraved desires are opposed to right reason, as good desires are opposed to perverted reason. And, therefore, properly and truly, he is continent who abstains from evil concupiscences, adhering to right reason. But he who abstains from good desires, persisting in perverted reason, is not to be called self-restrained, but rather obstinate in evil.

Continence{6} and incontinence properly apply to the desires of the pleasures of touch and taste.

Continence implies a certain bridling of one's self so as not to be led by passions. Therefore it properly applies to those passions which impel one to pursue something wherein it is laudable that reason hold one back; but it does not apply to those passions which imply a drawing back, as fear and the like. In these the firmly following what reason dictates is laudable.

But passions impel the more vehemently after something the more they follow natural inclinations, such as are the inclinations for what is necessary to preserve the individual and to preserve the human race. These, then, are the proper objects of continence and incontinence. Yet it will be noticed that the terms are used in wider scope of all vehement desires, as of honours, riches, and the like.

Continence has for its subject the human will.

Every virtue makes its subject different from the disposition which it has while subjected to the opposite vice.

But the concupiscible nature is in the same condition in the continent and in the incontinent, in both breaking forth into violent and depraved desires. Both of these also have the same right reason, and, when free from passion, purpose not to follow illicit desires. The primary difference between them is in their choice. The continent, although he suffer violent desires, chooses not to follow them, since his moral judgment protests against them; but the incontinent chooses to follow them despite the protest in his soul. Therefore continence is in the will, whose action is choice.

The object of continence is sensuous desires, but as resisting them; and this requires another power of the soul to make this resistance.

Is continence better than temperance?

Continence as equivalent to virginity has been already discussed. But now we mean the resistance of moral reason to depraved and violent concupiscences. And in this sense of the word temperance is much greater than continence. For the good of virtue is laudable in being according to reason. And this good is much more vigorous in the temperate man, in whom sense-appetite is subdued by reason, than in the continent man, in whom it vehemently resists reason through its depraved desires.

(1) But does not the continent man make the greater struggle and therefore gain a title to higher reward? I answer that the greatness or the feebleness of concupiscence arises from two causes. Sometimes it comes from natural physical constitution, some being naturally more prone to concupiscence than others are. And, again, some have greater opportunities and external temptations. And in such a case the greatness of the concupiscence resisted increases the merit of resistance.

But sometimes, as in the temperate man, the feebleness of the desire results from a spiritual cause, as the warmth of charity or the strength of reason. And then the feebleness of the desire by reason of its cause increases merit.

(2) One might be inclined to say that temperance belongs to a lower sphere, because it is the virtue of sense-desires, not of the will. But observe that the good of reason which makes virtue laudable is shown to be greater in reaching not only to the will, but to the sensuous passions, so that the whole man is formed anew.

Incontinence is a state of the soul, and not merely a matter of physical temperament.

The body merely gives occasion for incontinence. For sense-appetite is the operation of an organized body in which, owing to the condition of that body, violent passions may arise. But passions, however violent, are not the sufficient cause of incontinence, but only the occasion for it, because while reason is in operation man can always resist those passions. If they should grow so powerful as to take away the use of reason, as in "emotional insanity," neither continence nor incontinence would be possible, because the moral judgment which the continent preserves, and the incontinent abandons, would no longer exist. The cause of incontinence, therefore, is in the soul, which does not resist the passions. And this may be either because it gives way to passions before reason has deliberated, which may be called "precipitancy," or because the man weakly does not abide by his determinations, through "infirmity of purpose."

(1) We notice that the bodily condition gives occasion to incontinence, for the soul has certain powers which use bodily organs and are conditioned by the state of those organs; and the operation of these powers of the soul with their organs contribute to those mental actions which do not use corporeal instruments; i.e., to the action of the reason and will. For the reason receives its materials from sensibility, and the will is impelled by the passions of sense-appetite.

So it happens that women in general, although there are marked exceptions, are weaker in purpose because of their bodily constitution (acting from impulse rather than from fixed moral judgment. We might call the virtuous woman temperate rather than continent.) They are usually led by their feelings rather than by solid moral judgment.

(2) Again, there are some men who are naturally "quick-tempered," whose passions anticipate judgment; or who are "choleric," in whom the vehemence of their passions produces the same result; and, on the other hand, there are men of the feminine temperament, infirm of purpose; but no one of these things is sufficient cause of incontinence. The concupiscence of the flesh overcomes the spirit (Gal. v. 17), not of necessity, but through the negligence of the spirit itself, which does not will a firm resistance.

Is incontinence a sin?

It is recorded as one of the special sins of "the last days" in 2 Tim. iii. 3. And it is a sin for two reasons, because it is a departure from what right moral judgment dictates, and because it is a plunging into shameful pleasures.

This is said of incontinence in its proper and simple meaning. But one may be said to be incontinent with respect to some particular thing, as when he transcends the limits of reason in his desire of riches, honours, and the like, which in themselves are good things. The sin herein consists in not observing due limits.

Figuratively speaking, one might be called incontinent who was "carried away" by good desires, which wou]d be in accordance with reason. This would pertain to the perfection of virtue.

(1) But no one can by his own strength avoid incontinence; for the Lord says, "Without Me ye can do nothing" (S. John xv. 5). But man's need of Divine aid for continence does not prevent incontinence from being sin.

(2) But in him who is incontinent reason's moral judgment is overcome. (He makes good resolutions, but does not keep them.) Yes; but there is no necessity in this yielding; that would take away tbe idea of sin. It arises from the negligence of the man, who does not firmly apply himself to resist passion. (Hence he may feel remorse and shame.)

Is the incontinent more sinful than the intemperate?

Since sin lies chiefly in the will, where there is greater inclination of will to sin, there is graver sin. But the intemperate man's will is inclined to sin from deliberate preference, which proceeds from a habit which he has acquired by custom; whereas in the incontinent the will is inclined to sin by some passion. And because passion quickly comes to an end, but habit is "a quality hard to change," the incontinent feels regret when his passion ends; but the intemperate takes measure in his past sin, because habit has made it "connatural" to him. "They rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of evil" (Prov. ii. 14; Nic. Eth. vii. 7).

(1) There is an apparent objection to this, viz., that one seems to sin more gravely who acts against his conscience (S. Luke xii. 47), and the incontinent man knows how evil are the things which he desires, but nevertheless passion leads him to act against his conscience; whereas the intemperate man judges that the things which he desires are good, and so does not seem to oppose his own conscience.

This objection raises once more the question of ignorance excusing or not excusing sin. Ignorance in the reason sometimes precedes the inclination of appetite and canses it. Then the greater the ignorance, the more the sin is diminished, and it may be totally excused, since such ignorance makes the action involuntary so far as sin is concerned.

But, again, ignorance may follow the inclination of appetite, and the greater such ignorance the graver is the sin, because the sinful appetite is greater. But the ignorance of both the incontinent and the intemperate comes from appetite being inclined to something; in the one case through passion, in the other through habit.

But this causes greater ignorance in the latter than in the former. This is true, first, as respects duration; for in the incontinent the ignorance lasts only while the passion lasts, like the attacks of fever and ague. But the ignorance of the intemperate endures on account of the permanence of his habit, like a pulmonary consumption.

But, again, the ignorance of the incontinent regards some particular thing which he estimates as at that time to be chosen. But the intemperate is ignorant in respect of the end itself, judging it to be good that he follow his unbridled desires. (His moral principle is destroyed; the voice of conscience is silenced.)

(2) For this reason his cure is more hopeless. The "light within him is darkness," and his fixed habit resists admonition and correction. His cure, if it come at all, will be in the same way with that of the incontinent; viz., by Divine aid, and admonition and correction.

(3) But is not lustful passion greater in the incontinent, and does not this aggravate the sin? Yes, and no. The lust of the will which does aggravate sin is greater in the intemperate. But the lust of sensuous appetite may be greater in the incontinent, for he sins only from violent passions; while the intemperate sins from lighter concupiscence, and sometimes even anticipates it. "Every one would think a man worse if he did anything disgraceful when he felt no desire, or only a slight one, than if he felt very strong desires; and if he struck another without being angry, than if he had been angry; for what would he have done if he had been under the influence of passion?" (Nic. Eth. vii. 7).

Is incontinent anger worse than incontinent concupiscence?

The latter is baser because it has greater inordination. For (1) the passion of anger has something rational connected with it, inasmuch as the angry aims to avenge himself for injury done to him, which, in a certain way, reason dictates. The defect lies in not aiming at the due manner of vengeance. But concupiscence is totally sensual and in no respect rational. (2) The motion of anger follows the physical constitution in the quick-tempered more closely than in the lustful through concupiscence. This seems to make the excessively angry more pardonable. (3) Anger acts "above board," while concupiscence is sly and treacherous. (4) Concupiscence acts with pleasure, but anger has been preceded and compelled by sorrow.

But, on the other hand, we may consider the injury done to our neighbour, and so anger is generally graver in this respect.

§ 8. Meekness and clemency; anger; cruelty.

Is clemency the same as meekness (mansuetudo)?

Moral virtue is concerned with passions and actions. But inward passions are the source of outward actions or they are impediments to action. And, therefore, the virtues which moderate the passions concur with the virtues which moderate actions, although they differ in species, in producing the same effects. Thus, justice restrains a man from stealing, to which one may be inclined by the inward passion of love for money, which inordinate love is moderated by liberality; so liberality concurs with justice in the result, the abstaining from theft. So, in the matter now before us, by the passion of anger one is provoked to demand heavier punishment. But clemency diminishes this punishment, which mild course of action might be hindered by excessive anger. And so meekness, by restraining anger, concurs in the same effect with clemency. But the difference is that while clemency moderates outward punishments, meekness diminishes the passion of anger. The latter regards the appetite for vengeance, the former the penalties which vengeance demands.

To clemency is opposed cruelty; to meekness, rage, wrathful passion (iracundia).

Are both these virtues?

Since virtue alone subjects appetite to reason, and both meekness and clemency do this, it is evident that they are both virtues.

(1) Observe that inflexible severity in inflicting punishment, and clemency concerning punishment, are not opposites; each has its place according to right reason. There are occasions for the one, and, again, for the other.

(2) Clemency is related to severity as equity to legal justice; it considers special circumstances on account of which it diminishes penalties.

Meekness and clemency are virtues annexed to temperance.

The common ground of the three virtues is restraint of passions; the difference is in the object of restraint. The object of temperance, as we have seen, is the vehement desire of the pleasures of touch and taste; the object of the virtues which we are now considering is anger and its effects.

Equity has reference to the intention of the legislator going beyond the letter of his law; but clemency moderates passion, so that a man does not use all his power in inflicting penalties. So far as right reason allows, it shuns all that which can give sorrow to another.

The virtues which simply ordain man for good, as faith, hope, and charity, and also prudence and justice, are higher virtues than meekness and clemency, which withdraw man from evil. (Well worthy to be noted against affected sentimentality.)

But yet, among virtues which resist depraved affections these may have a certain superiority. For anger, which meekness moderates, may exceedingly hinder a man from judging of the truth, and, therefore, meekness helps to makes a man master of himself. But temperance is the cardinal virtue, because fleshly concupiscences are baser, and more constantly beset a man.

Clemency also approaches to charity, the chief among virtues, which seeks all good for one's neighbour, and hinders his evil. (Such is the example of Christ's meekness "Learn of Me, for I am meek." See, also, 1 Pet. ii. 23.) Meekness prepares a man for the knowledge of God by removing the impediment of anger and making one master of himself. Also, it hinders one from contradicting the words of truth.

Concurring in the same effect with charity, these virtues make a man acceptable with God and with men.

Piety and mercy, also, may have similar effects, each from different motive; piety, from reverence to superiors; mercy, from regarding others' evils as pertaining to one's self; meekness, from removing anger; clemency, from mild judgment of other's faults.

Anger. -- Is it lawful to be angry?

Anger is a passion of sense-appetite. Now, in the passions of the soul, evil is found in two ways First, the passion is evil on account of its object, as passion. Thus, envy in itself is evil, because it is sadness at another's good, which in itself is repugnant to reason. Badness is implied in the very word (Nic. Eth. ii. 6).

But this is not true of anger, which is the desire of vengeance on evil, which may be sought for rightfully (righteous zeal for good) or wrongfully (Eph. iv. 26).

Secondly, evil may be found in any passion from its excess or deficiency. So evil may be found in anger, when it its more or less than right reason dictates; otherwise it is laudable.

(1) But does not anger disturb the soul's tranquillity, disregard reason, and blind the mental vision? I answer that it may, indeed, precede reason, and drag it away from rectitude, and so be evil. But, also, it may follow reason, sensibility being excited against vices according to rational order, and this "zeal" is good. "Take care lest anger, accepted as the instrument of virtue, become mistress of the mind; but keep it as a servant, prepared to obey reason, and never departing from following its rightful lord" (S. Greg., Moral. v. 30).

"Zeal may, indeed, cloud the eye of reason, but wrath blinds it." Yet it is not contrary to the idea of virtue that reason's deliberations be intermitted in the execution of what has been rationally decided. Thus, one working at any art would be impeded in the time for action if he should be deliberating when he ought to be acting.

(2) But is it lawful to seek vengeance? Is not this reserved for God? "Vengeance is Mine, and recompense" (Deut. xxxii. 35). It is certainly illicit to seek vengeance for the sake of the evil of him who is to be punished; but to seek vengeance for the correction of vices and the preservation of justice is laudable. And the emotions as moved by reason can aim at this. When vengeance is taken according to the order of justice, it is from God, whose minister is any authority which rightfully punishes (Rom. xiii.).

(3) But it may be said that what removes us from the Divine likeness is evil, and anger does so. But we can and we ought to be like God in the desire of good; only in the manner of seeking it we cannot altogether resemble Him. For in God are not human passions, which we, however, can make the servants of our moral reason.

Is anger a sin?

S. Paul says (Eph. iv. 31), "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, . . . be put away from you." The passions are good so far as they are regulated by reason; but if they exclude its order, they are evil.

But in the order of reason must be considered, first, what is sought for by way of vengeance. Zeal, righteous vengeance, seeks what moral reason demands (S. John ii. 17). This is laudable anger. But one may seek vengeance contrary to the order of reason, as when he desires that another be punished who does not deserve to be punished, or beyond what he has deserved, or when he seeks an unlawful punishment, or for some other end than what is right, which is the preservation of justice and the correction of faults. This is unrighteous anger, the bitterness of wrath.

But, again, must be considered the mode of the anger; for if it be immoderate, whether in outward manifestation or in inward passion, it will not be without sin, even though one seek for righteous vengeance.

(1) Passion, absolutely considered, has neither merit nor demerit, neither praise nor blame. But when regulated by reason it is meritorious and laudable; when not so regulated it has demerit, and is blameworthy.

(2) But it may be said that no one sins in what he cannot avoid, which is true of anger. "Every one who acts from anger, acts under a feeling of pain" (Nic. Eth. vii. 6), and such pain is contrary to the will.

I answer that man is lord of his own acts through rational choice; and, therefore, the emotions which anticipate the judgment of reason are not so in the power of a man that he can prevent their arising in his soul, although reason can impede each one, individually, as it arises. And thus the emotion of anger is not so in a man's power that he can hinder its presence within. But it is so far under control that its inordination is sinful. And the pain of which Aristotle speaks is not pain from anger, but from the injury done; and this pain moves the soul to seek for vengeance.

(3) It is true that anger is natural emotion, and so far is according to reason; but, also, it is naturally subject to reason; and if it oppose the order of reason, it is unnatural.

Is all anger mortal sin?

If one seek unjust vengeance, anger is mortal sin, as contrary to charity and justice. But this passion may be venial sin on account of the imperfection of the act. Thus, the emotion may precede the judgment of reason, or one may "vent his spite" in some trifling way, as when he gives a troublesome boy a trifling though angry pull by the hair. Or, again, the manner of the auger, although the emotion is justifiable, may be wrong in its excess, which may be venial; or it may be mortal sin, if one from the vehemence of his anger depart from charity towards God and his neighbour (Col. iii. 8).{7}

When the Lord said (S. Matt. v. 22), "Every one who is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment," He had been speaking of the Old Law respecting murder; and He shows its spiritual meaning -- sc., that the inward disposition which seeks another's injury with deliberate consent of reason is mortal sin.

Is anger the gravest of sins?

If we consider what the angry man seeks for, his passion seems to be the least of sins of its kind; for he seeks the evil of penalty, as righteous vengeance -- i.e., as a good. In the first respect the sin of anger is like that of envy and hatred. But hatred seeks evil for a neighbour absolutely as evil, and envy does so through vainglory. So it is plain that hatred is graver than envy, and envy than anger.

But, as seeking what appears to be good, anger agrees with the sin of concupiscence. And in this respect the sin of anger in itself appears to be less than that of concupiscence, because better is the good of justice which the angry seeks for than the pleasurable or useful good which the lustful seeks for.

When we consider, however, the inordination of the sin, anger has a certain superiority on account of the vehemence and swiftness of the passion. "Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous" (Prov. xxvii. 4).

Distinctions in anger, as a sin, may repay a moment's consideration. (See Nic. Eth. iv. 5). The irascible are too quickly angry, and from any trifling cause. "Bitterness of spirit" is shown by persistent dwelling upon the injury done; by "letting the sun go down upon one's wrath." The revengeful seek for satisfaction with obstinate desire.

But the Lord (S. Matt. v.) pointed out, not the species of anger, but its grades in the progress of sin. First, the thought of the heart; then the outward manifestations of it, saying to a brother "Raca;" and finally the completed act of sin in doing injury under the notion of revenge, saying, "Thou fool," which is meant for injurious words, the lightest form of injury. And if the first of these is mortal sin in the case of which the Lord is speaking, how much more the others, which are worse. Anger is a capital sin, both because its object is regarded as just, honourable, and desirable, which makes the sin become the parent of many others, and because of the violence of auger, which hurries the soul into inordinate acts of various kinds.

The six daughters of anger are indignation and tumult in the mind, uncontrolled clamour, blasphemy and contumely in words, strifes and all other injurious actions.

Is defect of anger a sin?

One may seek to inflict just penalty, not out of passion, but from sober judgment of what is right and best. Herein defect is undoubtedly sin. But of necessity the motion of sense-appetite in man follows the simple motion of the will. This is one of nature's laws. Therefore, if anger be totally absent from the feelings, there must be absence or feebleness of the action of the will. Consequently deficiency in anger is vicious, as the defect of will also is.

(1) He who is never angry when he ought to be angry may imitate God in his absence of passion, but he is unlike the righteous Judge of all the earth.

(2) The passion of anger is useful, like all the other motions of sense-appetite. It makes a man more prompt to execute what reason dictates. God makes nothing in vain; and if this were not so, the emotions would have no good function to fulfil.

(3) Reason's judgment does not remain entire if there be no anger in the soul; for that judgment causes not only the simple motion of the will, but the following emotion of the sensitive soul. And the absence of anger is a sign of the absence of rational moral judgment. Cruelty is the opposite of clemency, inflicting severer punishments than reason requires. But it should be distinguished from that unnatural vice called ferocity, barbarity, inhumanity, which takes delight in others' pain simply as pain. Such vice is not human; it can only be called bestiality, if it does not rather place man below the level of the brute.

§ 9. Humility.

Is humility a virtue?

The Lord answered that question when He said, " Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly of heart." Let us consider what place humility holds among the virtues. Difficult good has something which attracts desire -- sc., the idea of the good; and it has something which repels -- sc., the difficulty of obtaining it. The first excites hope, the other tends to despair. There must be, then, on the one side a moral virtue, moderating and restraining hope within its due limits; on the other, a moral virtue strengthening and impelling against despair. The first hinders the soul from unduly aiming at the highest things, and this is humility; the second impels the soul to aim at great things according to right reason, and this is "magnanimity."

Abasement may come from an external cause "He that exalteth himself shall be abased." And this is penal. But it may also proceed from an inward cause, and so it is sometimes virtuous, as when one contemplates his defects and puts himself in the lowest place, like Abraham, who said (Gen. xviii. 27), "Behold now I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, who am but dust and ashes." But such self-abasement may also be evil, as when a man, not understanding his dignity as a man, considers himself nothing more than a developed brute, and makes himself like his progenitors. Aristotle, with all his admirable analysis of virtues, seems to have no place for humility. The explanation may be that he was considering man as a "social animal," not as the child of God by creation and Providence. But humility, as a special virtue, has in view especially man's subjection to God, for whose sake he is humble towards others also. (Aristotle is, I think, the most unspiritual of the world's great thinkers. His morality leaves out conscience towards God.)

Does humility direct the intellect or the desires?

It makes one check himself from seeking what is above his powers. And for this he must know what his deficiencies are. The knowledge of one's weakness belongs to humilitv as a rule directing the desires. (See Rev. iii. 17, 18.)

(1) But are we not told to "desire earnestly the greater gifts"? And if that is consistent with humility, what can the virtue be but a humble mental judgment of one's self? To aim at great things with confidence in one's own powers is indeed contrary to humility, but to aim at the highest attainable good through Divine assistance is not so on the contrary, "he that (so) humbleth himself shall be exalted."

(2) Magnanimity strengthens the mind against despair in order that one may not be rendered unworthy of obtaining the good which belongs to him. But the ground of humility in repressing presumption is reverence towards God, which prevents a man from attributing more to himself than belongs to him according to the place where God has put him. And this is the reason why humility especially implies man's subjection to God, the virtue of "the poor in spirit," which is perfected by the spiritual gift of godly fear (S. Aug., De Serm. Dom. in Monte, i. 4).

Does humility make a man subject himself to every one?

The Divine rule is (Phil. ii. 3), "In lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself." In man may be considered what he has by special gift of God, or what he is as man. But all deficiency is his own, and from God is whatever pertains to salvation and perfection. And when a man considers what he is in himself, the humble reverence by which he subjects himself to God makes him subject himself to his neighbour in what that neighbour has from God.

But humility does not require that any one subject God's gifts in himself to what in another appears to be from God. For those who receive God's gifts may know that they have them (1 Cor. ii. 12). And therefore, without prejudice to humility, they can prefer the gifts which they themselves have received to what appears to have been conferred on others (Eph. iii. 4, 5).

In like manner, humility does not require that one subject what he is as man to what another is in the same way, otherwise it would be necessary that each one should deem himself greater sinner than any other; whereas the apostle, without prejudice to his humility, says, "We being Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles."

But one can and ought to think some hidden good to be in his neighbour which he himself does not possess, or some evil (even unknown) to be in himself which is not in the other; and so each "counts other better than himself."

(1) But it was said that humility chiefly consists in being subject to God; why, then, also to man? Because we ought to revere God not only in Himself but in whatever is specially His, though not, indeed, with the same kind of reverence; e.g., sacrificial worship. "Be subject to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake" (1 Pet. ii. 13).

(2) But would it not be false pretence for those in the highest station to subject themselves to inferiors? If we prefer in our neighbour that which is of God to that which is our own in us, we cannot incur falsity.

(3) But if we in humility subject ourselves to another, may not this be doing harm to him through his growing proud or despising us? No; for humility, like the other virtues, is chiefly in the soul. And, therefore, man can subject himself to his neighbour in inward affections without giving occasion for detriment. But in the outward expression of humility, as in the acts of the other virtues, due moderation is to be exercised, lest harm be done. But if one do what he ought to do, and another from this take occasion of sinning, this is not imputed to him who acts humbly, because he does not give scandal (active), although the other is scandalized (passive, pharisaic scandal).

Humility is a virtue annexed to moderation or temperance. Temperance has been defined as the curbing or repressing the attack of any passion (see page 425). Therefore all virtues which act in this manner are parts ("potential") of temperance, or virtues annexed to it. But as meekness represses the emotion of anger, so humility represses presumption, the emotion of hope aiming at too great things.

Humility is that moderation of spirit spoken of by S. Peter (1 Ep. iii. 4) -- "the incorruptible apparel of a meek and quiet spirit."

The theological virtues are the causes of this virtue, because they have God for their object; but this truth is not inconsistent with our proposition. (Moderation or temperance may be Divine virtue in the same way.)

Is humility the chief among virtues?

The Holy Scriptures give that chief place to charity. "Above all these things put on charity" (Col. iii. 14). For the good of virtue depends upon the order of reason, and this principally regards the end. Therefore the theological virtues, which have for their object the ultimate end, are the chief.

But in the next place the order of reason considers the means as ordained for that end. And this ordination consists essentially in reason itself as ordaining (the intellectual virtues); but, by participation, in the desires as ordered by reason, which justice, especially legal justice (not only for private relations between man and man, but for society), universally accomplishes.

But humility makes man subject to this rational ordination for all things in general, as each virtue does in its own special matter.

(1) In the parable of the Pharisee and the publican (S. Luke xviii.) humility is not placed above general justice, but above justice to which pride is joined, for theis there is no true virtue; while, on the other hand, humility secures the remission of sins. "This man went down to his house justified rather than the other" (v. 14).

(2) In one way humility is the foundation of the spiritual edifice. For while true virtues are the gift of God, impediments must be removed. So humility holds the first place in expelling pride which God resists, and making man submissive to God, and opening his heart to the influx of Divine grace. For "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble" (S. Jas. iv. 6).

But in another way that is directly the first among virtues by which we draw nigh to God; and that is faith (Heb. xi. 6). Faith, then, is the foundation of the spiritual edifice in a nobler way than humility.

(3) Humility has its own special promise -- "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted" (S. Luke xiv. 11) just as he that despises earthly riches is promised heavenly treasure (S. Matt. vi. 19), and they that renounce earthly joys are promised heavenly consolations (S. Matt. v. 5).

(4) You may observe that Christ proposed to us the example of his own humility. " Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart" (S. Matt. xi. 29). He commended humility to us because it removes the chief impediment to our salvation, to our aiming at heavenly and spiritual things. So humility is the preparation of soul for free access to spiritual and Divine goods. But those goods are better than the preparation for them.

S. Benedict's twelve sieps of humility.

This virtue consists essentially in desire restrained from inordinately and presumptuously seeking what is above its natural power.

But humility has its rule in cognition; sc., that one does not think of himself "more highly than he ought to think," and the principle and root of both is reverence towards God.

But from the inward humility which is the gift of grace proceed outward signs of it, in words and deeds and gestures, by which are manifested what is hidden within the soul. And he that aims at humility first restrains its outward signs, in order that he may extirpate the buried root. This latter order is that followed by S. Benedict. In explaining it, we will follow the reverse order. (12) The root is, fearing God and being mindful of all which He commands. Considering our desires, which must not inordinately aim at our own superiority, we reach the next step, (11) not following one's own will; and (10) submitting one's self obediently to a superior; and (9) patiently submitting in hard and disagreeable matters. Three more steps pertain to a man's recognition of his own deficiencies (8) Confession of faults and sins; (7) confessing and believing one's self unworthy of greater things and unfit for them (6) preferring others to self in this respect. Then we come to outward signs of humility: (5) Not pretending to be different from others, aping singularity, out of pride deviating from what is usual; (4) learning to keep timely silence without hasty speech; (3) using few, rational, quiet words. Finally, in gestures humility is marked by (2) a subdued demeanour and (1) a quiet repressing of extravagant and idle laughter, etc.

Observe that the discipline of the deadly sin of pride follows the reverse order from that here given.

Do not object that the sixth and seventh steps may be based on a low and false estimation of your own merits and fitness for a higher place than you now have. For you can consider in yourself your secret faults, and the hidden gifts of God in others. And you can most truly confess your own unfitness for greater things, referring all your sufficiency to God, as S. Paul did (2 Cor. iii. 5).

§ 10. Pride.

Is pride a sin?

It is inordinate desire of one's own superiority, whereas right reason demands that the will of each one be directed to what is proportioned to himself. What is against reason is sin; therefore this is sin. "It is a perverted imitation of the Most High, hating equality with equals under Him, and wishing to impose its own lordship over them in His place" (S. Aug., De Civ. Dei, xix. 13).

And it is a special sin (S. Mark vii. 22), having its own proper object, which is one's own superiority. But it has also a certain generality, because all other sins can originate in pride, being ordained for its cud, and having hindrances removed from their way, because pride makes man despise the Divine law. I do not say that all sins always originate from pride; for although a man can transgress every precept of the law in that contempt of it which comes from pride, he may also break God's law through ignorance or Infirmity.

Although pride is a special sin, it may corrupt every kind of virtue by abusing it, taking occasion for pride from the virtue itself. For its object may be found in the most diverse matters.

Pride is found in the sense-appetite, the "irascible desires" (cannot brutes be rivals of one another for superiority?), and also in the will. For the difficult good which pride aims at is found in both sensuous things and in spiritual things. In the one case, the pride is in sense-appetite; in the other, in the rational appetite; i.e., in the will. Devils have pride of will. "The beginning of pride is apostasy from God" (Ecclus. x. 14).

(1) What, then, do we mean by "pride of intellect"? The knowledge of truth is two-fold; one is purely speculative, which pride directly impedes by withdrawing its cause. For the proud man does not subject his intellect to God in order that he may learn the truth from Him. Neither does he condescend to learn from men. The truth is hidden from "the wise and prudent" -- that is, from the proud who are wise and prudent in their own eyes -- and revealed "unto babes," i.e., to the humble (S. Matt. xi. 25).

But there is another knowledge of truth which is joined with love of it. And such knowledge of truth is directly hindered by pride, because the proud, pleased with their own excellence, disdain the excellence of truth. "With the lowly is wisdom" (Prov. xi. 2).

(2) The cause of pride may be found in the intellect of the proud man. He neglects that rule of right reason, not "to think of himself more highly than he ought to think." And this comes from his inordinate desire of his own superiority, for what one vehemently desires he readily believes to be true, and hence his desire is turned to things too high for him. His considering also the defects of others has contributed to his high opinion of himself. But all this connection of reason and pride does not prove that pride is an intellectual vice.

S. Gregory's four species of pride.

(1) The more good one has, the greater his excellence. Therefore, when any one attributes to himself greater good than he actually possesses, he is aiming at his own superiority in an inordinate manner. One species of pride, then, is boasting of good which does uot belong to the boaster.

(2) The good in any one is more excellent if it proceed from himself than if he derived it from another. And, therefore, when any one estimates the good which he has from God as if it were altogether his own, he is unduly exalting himself by his pride. "Who maketh thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? But if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?" (1 Cor. iv. 7).

(3) So, also, one may believe that he has received superabundant gifts on account of his own merits, which is equally the sign of pride. "By grace ye are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God not of works, that no man should glory" (Eph. ii. 8).

(4) One despising others may wish to appear to be of singular excellency, like the Pharisee in the Gospel (S. Lnke xviii.).

(1) The second and third would be infidelity if they were made general propositions, that good is not from God, or that grace is given to men for their merits; but the proud man is thinking of himself alone. Since the ungrateful attributes to himself what he has derived from another, it s evident that these two kinds of pride are also marked by base ingratitude.

(2) The boasting spoken of is the falsehood -- inward, perhaps -- which belongs to pride. Excusing one's sin is similar, for it is attributing to self an innocency which is not possessed.

(3) Presumptuously aiming at what is above one's powers may be referred to the fourth species of pride, where one wishes to be above his fellows.

(4) We have seen the twelve steps of humility. S. Bernard points out the twelve opposite steps of pride. First in manner and looks: (1) The inquisitively and inordinately looking round at everything; (2) the shallow mind showing itself in proud words; (3) the ready laughter at what is thought ridiculous in others; (4) the readiness to boast of one's own achievements; (5) the aiming to appear singular, as if one were holier than others; (6) arrogance, preferring one's self to others; (7) presumption in thinking one's self sufficient for great undertakings; (8) defence of faults and sins; (9) unreal confession of sins, with unwillingness to bear penalties imposed; (10) rebellion against superiors; (11) unbridled will, delighting in doing freely one's own pleasure; (12) habitual sin, which implies contempt of God.

Is pride a mortal sin?

Pride is opposed to humility, which subjects man to God. Failing in this subjection, one extols himself above what is assigned to him according to the Divine rule or measure. He is of the opposite mind to S. Paul (2 Cor. x. 13): "We will not glory beyond our measure." Thus, "the beginning of pride is apostasy from God," and, therefore, it is mortal sin in aversion from God.

But, as in other mortal sins, there are some motions of the soul which anticipate the judgment of the mind and the consent of the will, and so are venial transgressions; so, also, there are some motions of pride to which one may not give consent, which are therefore venial sins.

(1) Pride is not universal sin in its essence, but from it all other sins may arise. Hence, it does not follow that all sins are mortal, except when they arise from completed pride.

(2) Pride is always contrary to the love of God, in not being subject to the Divine rule; and sometimes, also, to the love of our neighbour, when one inordinately prefers himself to another, or refuses due subjection. Then, again, the Divine law is coutemned which institutes orders of men, placing one under another.

(3) Virtues do not produce pride as causes per se, but only as one takes occasion for pride, and makes his virtues to be no virtues at all.{8}

Pride is the gravest of sins.

In sin we have already seen that we must consider two elements; viz., the turning to transitory good, which is the "material" part, and the aversion from unchangeable good, which is the "formal" and completing part of sin. Now, on the part of the first, the conversion to something, pride is not the greatest of sins, for an elevated position which the proud man inordinately seeks has not in itself the greatest repugnance to the good of virtue.

But on the part of aversion, pride has the gravest character, because in other sins man turns away from God either on account of ignorance, or of infirmity, or of desire for some other good; but pride turns away from God because it will not be subject to Him and to His law. "While all vices avoid God, pride alone resists Him" (Boetius). Wherefore it is especially said (S. Jas. iv. 6), "God resisteth the proud." Aversion from God and His precepts, then, which is, as it were, a consequence in other sins, is the essence of pride whose act is contempt of God. This makes it, in itself, the gravest of sins in that which completes sin.

(1) But is not the sin which is the most difficult to avoid the lighter on that account? Does not S. Augustine say, (Ep. 211), "Other sins are carried out in evil works, but pride insinuates itself into good works that they may be destroyed"? I answer that there are two ways in which a sin is difficult to avoid; one is on account of the violence of the assault, as anger is, for this reason, hard to resist, and concupiscence still more so on account of its connection with our sensuous nature.

But, in another way, some sins are hard to avoid, on account of their being hidden. Such a sin is pride. And, therefore, the motions of pride, secretly stealing into the soul, have not the gravest character before they may be detected by the judgment of reason. But when so detected, there are considerations which render them easy to be avoided: (a) The thought of our own infirmity. "Why is dust and ashes proud?" (1) The thought of the Divine greatness (Job xv.), and (c) reflection on the imperfection of the goods of which man is proud. "All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field" (Isa. xl. 6).

(2) In this aversion from God pride increases the greatness of other sins. Infidelity is rendered far more grave if it proceed from proud contempt than if it come from ignorance or infirmity. So with despair and the like.

(3) In order to convict the pride of men, God permits some to fall into carnal sins which, though less, have more manifest turpitude. "The fault of pride is less felt because it is found in the most elevated persons, or because it takes its origin from works of virtue. But lusts of the flesh are likely to be noted by all, and are degrading, though they be sins of less guilt than pride. But he who is the slave of pride and does not feel his slavery, falls into carnal sin in order that he may be humbled and truly rise" (Isidore).

And this very fact shows the gravity of pride itself. Thus, the good physician may produce a less serious illness by his medicaments in order to cure a more deadly disease.

Pride is the first sin and the foundation of all sins.

Aversion from God, which completes sin, belongs to pride per se; to other sins as resulting from pride. It is, therefore, the primal sin, and the source of all other sins; not that every individual act of sin arises from pride, but every kind of sin naturally springs from it.

(1) The order of sins is not the order of virtues. That which is first generated is the last to be corrupted. And, therefore, as faith is the first of virtues in order of production, so unbelief is the last of sins, to which man is sometimes led through other sins, as we read in 1 Tim. i. 19 "A good conscience, which some having thrust from them, made shipwreck concerning the faith."

(2) Lighter sins, committed through ignorance or infirmity, in point of time may precede this gravest sin. But it causes the gravity of other sins by reaching the very foundation of all sin. "It is last in those returning to God; it is first in those departing from God." (Compare the order in Dante's Purgatorio, Div. Comm.)

Is pride a capital sin?

Some, viewing it as a special sin from which many kinds of sin arise, have numbered it among the capital sins; but S. Gregory, considering its universal influence over all sins, made it queen and mother of all vices.

It is not the same as vainglory, which has its place among the capital sins, but it is the cause of that; for while pride inordinately seeks for superiority, vainglory aims at its manifestation.

(It may be instructive to notice what the author points out in qu. clxiii.; viz., that the first sin of our first parents was pride, the inordinate desire of spiritual good and excellence. That first sin could not he appetite for sensible good, because in them there was no rebellion of the flesh against the spirit. A spiritual good was sought for against God's rule, and above their measure. They yielded to the tempter saying, "Ye shall be as gods." Disobedience was caused by this; from it came the sin of fleshly appetite. It was pride that yielded to the sinful desire of knowledge, of ' knowing good and evil.")

§ 11. Moderation ("modestia ").

(In the author's arrangement humility is included under this. But for convenience we now consider other forms of it abridged from our text. Moderation is the virtue by which one restrains himself inwardly and outwardly within the limits of his station, talents, and fortunes. It is a virtue annexed to temperance, the latter moderating what is most difficult to control, sc., the concupiscence of the pleasures of taste and touch; the former, other desires where the difficulty is not so great.)

Moderation controls four elements of our inward and outward life (1) The desire of superiority, through humility, which we have already considered; (2) the desire of knowledge; (3) outward actions, whether in the serious affairs of life or in recreations; (4) outward apparel, ornaments, household furniture, etc., etc.

Virtuous desire of knowledge ("studiositas").

All men naturally desire to acquire knowledge. (Curiosity begets philosophy, asking, what? whence? whither? why?) But this desire of knowing needs to be governed, for its results may be either good or had. And, on the other hand, "much study is a weariness to the flesh;" therefore a virtue is needed to overcome what stands in the way of a proper pursuit of knowledge.

We are not now reentering the domain of intellectual virtues, for the good now presented to our notice is an act of desire -- sc., that a man have a right desire to apply his mind in this way or that, to this thing or that.

On the other hand, there is a vicious or idle curiosity ("curiositas"). The question is not of knowledge per se, which in itself is good, but of the desire and zeal to acquire it. This may be either good or perverted; first, when the evil accidentally attached to knowledge of the truth is the motive for seeking it, as when the motive is simply vicious pride. ("Knowledge puffeth up" -- 1 Cor. viii. 1). Or, again, when the knowledge is sought for in order to get more freedom in sin.

Secondly, there may be inordination in the desire itself. It may be turned from the useful and obligatory to idle or frivolous questions (1 Tim. i. 4; 2 Tim. iii. 7). It may be eager to learn something respecting the works of God while referring nothing to its due end; sc., the knowledge of God (a prevalent sin of these days). Or, thirdly, it may be concerned with fruitless questions about matters which are inscrutable by any powers which we possess. (And so a vain conceit of knowledge or "philosophy" blinds the soul's simple faith in the truth revealed by Christ Jesus our Lord.) (1) It cannot be truly objected that since all knowledge is good there can be no vice in curiosity; for the highest good of man does not consist in knowing every fact in the universe, but in perfect knowledge of the highest truth (Nic. Eth. x. 7, 8).

(2) Nor can it be justly objected that all knowledge whatsoever assimilates man to God, who knows all things. That only shows that the knowledge of truth is good in itself, but not that it cannot be abused or inordinately sought for.

(3) Philosophical studies are laudable on account of the truths which have been found in that way, God revealing them. But, also, such studies are continually abused in perversion of the faith. "Take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ" (Col. ii. 8).

Neither should we overlook the "lust of the eyes," sinful use of the pleasures of other senses beside touch and taste, which temperance controls. To consider others' doings for our own utility -- e.g., that we may be provoked to hetter things -- or for others' benefit -- sc., that they may be corrected where they have gone wrong -- is an act of obedience to the Divine word "Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works" (Heb. x. 24). But it is quite another thing, the meddlesome, curious spying into others' affairs idly, if not for contempt and detraction.

Moderation in bodily action and gesture. -- Does any virtue apply to outward movements?

Moral virtue orders through reason all that helongs to man as man. And a man's movements and gestures, so far as they are governed by reason, can be ordered by it. This ordering by reason is either according to what is becoming to the individual man, or what is fitting with reference to other persons, to places or occasions.

(1) It is true that every virtue pertains to the spiritual beauty of the soul; but motions and gestures are a sign of the inward disposition. Government of these requires government of the inward passions.

(2) Relatively to others this moderation pertains to friendship or affability; and as gestures and motions are signs of inward dispositions, the moderating them pertains also to truthfulness; a man presents himself in words and deeds such as he inwardly is.

Is there a virtue which concerns recreations and amusements?

A man needs corporeal rest for the refreshment of his body. He cannot labour without intermission, because his powers are finite, proportioned to limited labours. So, also, is it with his soul, whose finite power is in like manner proportioned to limited operations. And, therefore, when he extends his mental operations beyond his limit, his work becomes labour, and he is fatigued, especially because in mental work the body also (i.e., the brain) is employed, the intellect using powers which operate through corporeal organs -- the senses, the imagination, the memory. But the soul's rest is pleasure; and, therefore, the remedy for mental fatigue is some pleasure, reason's vigorous action being intermitted. But words or actions of this kind, in which nothing is sought for except mental pleasure, are called amusements, frolics, games, merry pastimes. Such things are sometimes necessary to be used for the soul's rest. But a virtue is needed, since there are three things which must be avoided (1) First, and chiefly, that this pleasure he not sought in base or injurious words or actions; (2) that sobriety of soul be not utterly lost; (3) that, as in all other human actions, regard be had to what suits the person, the season, the place, and other circumstances. Now all this is ordained by reason's rule, and a habit which operates according to such rule is a moral virtue. Aristotle calls it urbanity, eutrapelia (Nic. Eth. iv. 8). This, then, is a form of moderation restraining man from immoderate sports and recreations.

In themselves, of course, such things are useless; but the end of the pleasure which they afford is the refreshment of the wearied soul.

Is there sin in superfluous amusement?

What exceeds reason's rule is superfluous; what falls short of it is defect. First, this excess may be found in the kind of things used for sport; as shameful words or actions, or what tends to injure our neighbour. Such excess is mortal sin.

But, secondly, due circumstances may be lacking; as when men amuse themselves at unsuitable seasons, or in improper places, or with what does not befit the circumstances or the persons.

And this, indeed, can sometimes be mortal sin on account of the excessive addiction to amusement, which pleasure is preferred to the love of God, so that one does not hesitate to resort to such things against the precept of God or of His Church.

Or, again, one may he not so addicted to amusement, although too fond of it; and this may be venial sin.

(1) But that which excuses from sin cannot be itself a sin; and amusement (a thing "done in joke") sometimes does excuse from sin; therefore it is never, even in excess, a sin. Yes; some things are sins only by reason of the intention of doing harm, which intention jesting excludes, since its aim is only pleasure. And in such things the sin is less, or none at all. But some things also are sinful in themselves, and such things are not excusable because they were said or done in jest; on the contrary, the amusement is criminal and detestable.

(2) But what, then, would we have to say of actors of plays, and all whose business it is solely to amuse the public? If all excess in amusement is wrong, must not all such people be in a state of sin? And must not all be sinning who patronize them and so cooperate in their sin?

It has been shown that amusement is necessary in the conduct of human life. But for all things which are useful in this way, employments and services are lawfully assigned. And therefore the actor's profession, and that of all those who provide amusements for the people, are not in themselves immoral; nor are such people in a state of sin, provided that they use their profession lawfully -- i.e., that they employ no wrong words or actions in their occupation, nor exhibit their plays, etc., on unfit seasons. And although, "as a matter of business," they have no other duty in relation to others except what seems so trifling, yet in relation to themselves and to God, they may lead a serious and virtuous life in habitual prayer, in governing their passions and their actions, and, as they not infrequently do, by large gifts for charitable purposes. (This liberal and kindly view of a large class in society is very different from the popular notion of mediaeval Christians, and equally wide of the Puritan pharisaic assumptions.)

Those, then, who with virtuous moderation aid them are not sinning, but acting justly in giving them the reward of their ministration to the social good. The sin lies in wasting one's property on such persons, or contributing to immoral performances, which is cooperation in the sin.

Is there any sin of an opposite kind?

Since man is a "social animal," the virtues of "good-fellowship" must have a place in Christian morals; and Aristotle was not far out of the way in giving a place in Ethics to his "eutrapelia." Whatever in human affairs is contrary to reason is vicious. Now, it is contrary to reason that one make himself irksome to others, taking no pains to please them, and even hindering others' pleasures. But those fall short in the proper refreshment of life who offer no amusement themselves, and make themselves disagreeable to those who do so. Such are harsh, clownish, morose they are vicious in their way. But since recreation is useful for rest and pleasure, and these in human life are not to be sought on their own account, but for the end of virtuous operation, therefore deficiency in respect of amusement is less vicious than excess in it (Nic. Eth. x. 6). " A few friends for pleasure's sake are enough, like sweetening in our food" (ib. ix. 10).

It is an act of penitence for sins to abstain from amusements; but this, of course, is not the vice of deficiency here spoken of.

Moderation in dress and furniture. -- Can virtue or vice be connected with outward adornments?

The only vice can be in the man who immoderately uses them. And this immoderation is either relative to the usages of the society in which one lives, or in the inordinate affection of the user, when he employs such things intemperately, whether it be according to the fashions of the world around him, or contrary to those usages.

This inordination in superabundance of adornments shows itself in three ways. First, when one is seeking the admiration of others by his display. The purple and fine linen are the food of vainglory. Next, when one is pampering his own body with effeminate luxuries; and, lastly, when, though there may be no inordination as respects the end, there is sinful solicitude concerning such things. We may distinguish, therefore, three virtues in this matter the lowly mind, which seeks no vainglory; the mind contented with the necessary conveniences of life, following the apostle's words, "Having food and covering, let us be therewith content" (1 Tim. vi. 8); and, lastly, the simple mind, which excludes inordinate desire for outward show.

But, on the side of defect, there may be also inordinate affection in the negligence which will not employ attention or trouble to comply with what is becoming to one's station and the society of which he is a part. Or, again, one may take a sort of pride in his own sordidness, and it may be the more mischievous if it masquerade as religion (S. Aug., De Serm. Dom. in Monte, ii. 12).

Observe that dignitaries in the state and the ministers of the altar are rightly clad in costly vestments, not for their own ostentation, hut to express the excellence of their office or the glory of Divine worship.

Also, it is possible to use a poor garb, etc., not for pride, but for a discipline of humility, and because one chooses his part with the poor. S. John Baptist did so as a preacher of repentance to men.

Can women adorn themselves without mortal sin?

What has been already said applies to this question; but, besides, there is the special grievous sin of provoking men to lasciviousness by the manner of dress. The woman can lawfully take pains to please her husband, if she be married; but she mortally sins if she intend to attract other men. But if her improper dress and ornaments be only from levity or vanity, her sin may be venial or it may be mortal.

Customs of society also may make excusable in dress what is not laudable. (Qu.: "Low-necked dresses" in "fashionable" society?) (Our author recognizes the position of marriageable girls, to whom, mutatis mutandis, what has been said will also apply.)

Do the ornaments of women seem to be prohibited by the Divine law? S. Peter said (1 Ep. iii. 3), "Whose adorning let it not be the outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of jewels of gold, or of putting on of apparel." S. Cyprian spoke very severely from this text (De Hab. Virg.). "Clad in purple and silk, they cannot put on Christ; adorned with gold, pearls, necklaces, they have lost the true ornaments of soul and body." But compare what S. Paul says (1 Tim. ii. 9), "Let women adorn themselves in modest apparel with shamefastness and sobriety," and learn that sober and quiet ornament is not prohibited to women, but superfluous and immodest dress. (A lesson for some modern sects in their first enthusiasm, which soon, however, fly from one extreme to the other which is worse.)

S. Cyprian, in the same treatise, is still more severe against personal embellishments. But they are mortal sin only when they are used lasciviously or in contempt of God. Besides, it is one thing to counterfeit a beauty which is not real, and another thing to conceal some unpleasant deformity arising from sickness or other such cause; for this is permissible (1 Cor. xii. 23).

Observe, also, that since women may lawfully adorn themselves according to their station in life, and may even add something to please their husbands, it follows that the workers in the arts so employed have a lawful occupation, even though their products be frequently abused.

§ 12. Precepts of temperance

The end of the commandments is charity, to which we are led by two precepts respecting the love of God and of our neighbour. This is the object of the Decalogue. But among the vices most opposed to temperance adultery seems to be that which most conflicts with love of our brother, and therefore this sin is specified. Gluttony, inebriety, even other forms of lust, are not so directly opposed as this sin is.

The Decalogue contains no affirmative precept respecting temperance, because it gives the universal principles of Divine law, whereas such affirmative rules must vary according to the diverse laws and customs of men.

In themselves the virtues annexed to temperance have no direct relation to the love of God and of our neighbour, but they rather regard one's own self; they are "self-regarding" virtues. it is otherwise with their effects, and accordingly the effects of vices opposed to these annexed virtues are prohibited. Thus, from anger, which is opposed to meekness, may result homicide or dishonouring of parents, which also may proceed from the pride by which many transgress the precepts of the first table.

Pride is not found in the Decalogue, because the Ten Commandments are the sum of primary principles known per se; whereas pride, though it is the beginning of sin, is hidden in the heart, and its inordination is not manifest to all.

Humility and meekness are not enjoined in the Decalogue, for they presuppose the law, indicating the temper in which it is to be received.

{1} Here used, as temperance is above, in its widest signification.

{2} Gluttony and intemperance, then, are mortal sins when they are injurious to the health of body or soul, when they prevent the fulfilment of duties and obligations. Observe that, as producing physical diseases, the remedy is physical as well as spiritual.

{3} Its antidotes are, (a) flight from temptation, from the places, the persons, the things which produce temptation; (b) hard work, producing moderate fatigue; (c) judicious asceticism; (d) receiving the Holy Communion.

{4} The author is not discussing the deadly sin against nature, pollution produced in a manner directly voluntary -- sc., "masturbation."

{5} See, further, Supplement, chapter on Matrimony.

{6} The difference between temperance and continence may not be at first sight clear to the student who is not familiar with the accurate moral distinctions of the Nicomachean Ethics.

(1) The desires and passions, if not naturally moderate, may be so moderated by acquired virtue that one shall feel only proper desires for all those pleasant things which conduce to health, a sound habit of body, or are connected with the perpetuation of the human race. The habit is formed and has become a second nature; one acts from it with deliberate preference. This is the virtue of temperance.

Intemperance is the opposite -- the vice of the concupiscible passions. The man is like a child, in that his desires are the rule of his life. There is no protest of moral judgment. But, unlike a child, his perverted reason has adopted a vicious rule of life, and he follows it by deliberate choice.

(2) But, again, a man may have violent passions which require the strongest effort of his will to subdue, and they are perpetually struggling against his conscience and the curb of his will. If one succeed in curbing them, which he cannot do by his own unassisted powers, he is "self-controlled " -- he is continent. But the imperfect virtue which he possesses is in his will.

It is manifest that, in this sense of the word, the Lord Jesus Christ could not be called continent.

If a man's will does not control these violent passions, he is incontinent. His moral judgment protests, as it does not in the intemperate. He knows, in calmer moments, that his desire is bad; but when the time of action comes his will resists the protest, and he acts contrary to his deliberate preference and judgment.

{7} Distinguish, then, three manifestations of this capital sin (a) revenge is songht for in the name of righteous vengeance, even when the law is invoked; (b) vengeance is taken without due authority (e.g., "lynch law"); (c) the penalty inflicted is more than justice demands, being the gratification of personal hatred.

{8} Notice, as familiar forms of pride, the receiving of the Blessed Sacrament without due preparation, rather than to appear less devout than others; and, again, the keeping up display at home, etc., which cannot be paid for.

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