The word temperance can be employed to signify either the moderation that reason imposes on every human act of passion, in which case it is not a special virtue but a general condition that should characterize all the moral virtues, or a special virtue among the moral virtues. As a moral virtue, temperance is a supernatural habit that moderates the inclination to sense pleasures and keeps them within the limits of reason illumined by faith.
We refer to temperance as a supernatural habit in order to distinguish it from the natural or acquired virtue of temperance. The proper function of temperance is to refrain or control the movements of the concupiscible appetite in which it resides, as distinct from the virtue of fortitude, which controls the irascible appetite. Although temperance should moderate all the sense pleasures to which the concupiscible appetite is drawn, it refers in a special way to the pleasures of taste and touch, because they provide the most intense sense delectation and are, therefore, most likely to draw the appetite beyond the rule of reason. That is why the special virtue of temperance is reguired.
Natural or acguired temperance is regulated simply by the light of natural reason, and therefore contains or restricts the functions of the pleasure emotions within rational or purely human limits; supernatural or infused temperance extends much further because it adds to simple reason the light of faith, which imposes superior and more delicate demands. The virtue of temperance is one of the most necessary virtues in the spiritual life of the individual.
There are two integral parts assigned to the virtue of temperance: a sense of shame and a sense of honor. The sense of shame is not a virtue in the strict sense of the word, but a praiseworthy emotion or feeling that causes us to fear the disgrace and confusion or embarrassment connected with a base action. It is an emotion because it is usually accompanied by a change in the body, such as blushing; it is praiseworthy because the fear, regulated by reason, arouses an aversion to anything that is base and degrading. It should be noted that we are more ashamed of being embarrassed before wise and virtuous persons — by reason of the rectitude of their judgment and the worth of their esteem — than before those who have little education or virtue. Above all, we have a feeling of shame and a fear of embarrassment before our friends and the members of our own family, who know us better and with whom we have to live; with strangers the sense of shame is much weaker.
The sense of honor signifies a certain love or appreciation for the spiritual beauty and dignity connected with the practice of temperance. It is properly connected with the virtue of temperance because this virtue possesses a certain degree of spiritual beauty, and the beautiful is opposed to the base and ugly. Therefore a sense of honor pertains to the virtue that helps us to avoid base and ugly actions. The importance of cultivating a sense of honor can hardly be overemphasized, since sense pleasures readily lead to excess. –Father Jordan Aumann ‘Spiritual Theology’
St Vincent de Paul says, ‘He who has little regard for bodily mortification, under the pretext that interior mortifications are much more perfect, demonstrates very clearly that he is not mortified either interiorly or exteriorly.’
If the Holy Spirit wishes to lead a soul by way of extraordinary penances, he will inspire the soul to that effect and will give the strength necessary to carry it out. Meanwhile, the majority of souls should practice ordinary bodily mortification by accepting the little crosses of daily life with a spirit of faith and perseverance. This last point is very important. It is better to accept and carry faithfully the little crosses of everyday life than to give one’s self to occasional periods of great penance, alienated with other periods of relaxation. –Father Jordan Aumann ‘Spiritual Theology’
….Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity, seems to have penetrated the mystery of Christ as profoundly as did the Apostle to the Gentiles. Addressing Christ, she writes:
I realize my weakness and beseech thee to clothe me with thyself, to identify my soul with all the movements of thine own. Immerse me in thyself, possess me wholly; substitute thyself for me, that my life may be but a radiance of thine own. Enter my soul as Adorer, as Restorer, as Savior! O Eternal Word, Utterance of my God! I long to pass my life in listening to thee, to become docile that I may learn all from thee ….
O consuming Fire! Spirit of love! Descend within me and reproduce in me, as it were, an incarnation of the Word; that I may be to him another humanity wherein he renews his mystery. And thou, O Father, bend down toward thy poor little creature and overshadow her, beholding in her none other than thy beloved Son in whom thou hast set all thy pleasure.
Father Jordan Aumann ‘Spiritual Theology’
Theology as wisdom is at once eminently speculative and eminently practical because the God who is the object of the study of theology is the God who intervenes in human history and calls us to perfection and salvation. Spiritual theology reflects precisely on the mystery of our participation in divine life. It is concerned not only with the construction of a science or theory of the supernatural life, but also with the existential condition of that life in the individual Christian. Consequently, spiritual theology must express itself in both ontological (theory) and psychological (experiential) terms.
Because spiritual theology is part of the one theology, it is closely related to dogmatic and moral theology, from which it derives its principles. And because it is an applied theology, it necessarily contains much that is practical and experiential. Consequently, the method of theologizing must take both of these factors into account; it must, in fact, combine the deductive method and the inductive method and strive to keep a proper balance between the two. –Father Jordan Aumann ‘Spiritual Theology’
Adoration is an external act of the virtue of religion by which we express the honor and reverence due to the divine excellence. Exterior adoration is an expression and an overflow of interior adoration, which is primary, and serves at the same time to arouse and preserve interior adoration. And because God is in all places, we can adore God both internally and externally in all places, although the most proper place is in his temple, because he resides there in a special manner. Moreover, the very atmosphere of a church or chapel helps to withdraw us from the noise and distractions of the world, while many holy objects contained there serve to arouse devotion, and the presence of other worshipers likewise nourishes the spirit of adoration. –Father Jordan Aumann ‘Spiritual Theology’
By combating the wisdom of the world, which is foolishness in the eyes of God. St. Paul speaks frequently in this manner, but the greater percentage of us rely on this world’s wisdom. Yet Christ constantly warns us in his teaching that we should expect to be a contradiction and a paradox to the world. This does not mean that the world as such is evil, but it does mean that those who live and act for worldly goals and according to worldly standards will inevitably have to jettison the standards of God. The lives of the saints are replete with instances in which the gift of wisdom caused them to perform actions that were foolish in the eyes of the worldly but were divine and prudent from a supernatural point of view. –Father Jordan Aumann ‘Spiritual Theology’
We viewed an amazing documentary at the Cleveland Film Festival, a local effort by a Cleveland director portraying an astounding Cleveland immigrant. The man truly proves the necessity of being a contradiction and paradox to the world. A lovely story of love, an inspiring biography of a man’s whose dying words were three in number: ‘I love you’, an ode to his wife and a life of unimaginable providence. Insight into the film grew in depth after the film while attending a question and answer with the director and members of Peter Ertel’s family.
Prayer of Quiet
The prayer of quiet is a type of mystical prayer in which the intimate awareness of God’s presence captivates the will and fills the soul’s arid body with ineffable sweetness and delight. The fundamental difference between the prayer of quiet and that of infused recollection, apart from the greater intensity of contemplative light and more intense consolations, is that the prayer of quiet gives the soul an actual possession and joyful fruition of the sovereign Good.
Nature of the Prayer of Quiet
Infused contemplation principally affects the intellect, which is withdrawn from the other faculties, but the prayer of quiet especially affects the will. Although the intellect and the memory are now tranquil, they still remain free to realize what is occurring, but the will is completely captivated and absorbed in God. For that reason, the prayer of quiet as its name indicates, tends to contemplative silence and repose. Since the other faculties remain free, however, they can be occupied with the work of the active life, and they may do so with great intensity. The will does not lose its sweet quietude, but the activities of Martha and Mary begin to merge in a beautiful manner, as St. Teresa points out. Yet the perfect blending of the active and contemplative life will not be achieved until the soul has reached the state of union with God.
St. Teresa describes the prayer of quiet in the following way: “From this recollection there sometimes proceeds an interior quiet and peace that are full of happiness because the soul is in such a state that it does not seem to lack anything, and even speaking (I refer to vocal prayer and meditation) wearies it; it wishes to do nothing but love. This state may, last for some time and even for long periods of time.”
Father Jordan Aumann ‘Spiritual Theology’