9. TEMPERANCE IN EATING AND DRINKING
1. Temperance consists in not eating and drinking more than is necessary, and not being either too greedy or too dainty in regard to the nourishment one takes.
Temperance teaches us not to eat or drink more than is needful to support life. A sage of antiquity used to say: “We do not live to eat, but we eat to live.” One who is temperate does not fully satisfy his appetite, or take what is injurious to his health; he has regular, fixed hours for his meals. He eats such things as are set before him (Luke x. 8), and is not angry when a dish is badly served. What concerns him most is to have food which suits his digestion and gives him strength for his work.
2. Temperance is highly advantageous to soul and body; it improves the health, lengthens life, strengthens the faculties of the mind, fosters virtue and leads to everlasting life.
Moderation at table is advantageous both to body and soul and is the source of many virtues. We are travellers on earth, and we shall expedite our arrival in the celestial country, if we only make such use of the things of this world as is indispensable to enable us to proceed on our journey.
3. Diligent meditation on the truths of our holy religion will assist us to form a habit of temperance.
He who sustains his mind with spiritual aliments will not care greatly for the food of the body; for fleshly desires are suppressed when the love of celestial things fills the heart. As Our Lord said: “Not in bread alone doth man live,” etc. Let us lift our eyes up to heaven, lest we should be allured by the baits of earth. Above all, think on the privations many of the poor endure, of the privations Our Lord endured. There are thousands of poor who think themselves fortunate if they only have sufficient bread and water to still their hunger and quench their thirst. How kind God has been to you in giving to you so much more than to them, and how ungenerous it would be on your part, if you abused His liberality for the gratification of your palate. If He vouchsafed for your sake to feel the pangs of hunger, how much the more ought you to be abstemious for your own interest.
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