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Pope Francis: Temperance as key to true joy and fulfillment

Pope Francis on Wednesday spoke about the cardinal virtue of temperance, emphasizing that mastering oneself can lead to a deeper and more joyous appreciation of life.

This discourse marks the conclusion of his catechetical series focused on vices and virtues, with prior discussions on prudence, patience, justice, and fortitude.

“The moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods,” he said. 

The pontiff said temperance helps individuals control their instincts and keep desires within honorable limits.

Illustrating the virtue of temperance, he compared enjoying wine in small sips, which enhances its appreciation, to the lesser experience of consuming it all at once.

Pope Francis recalled Aristotle’s concept of “enkráteia,” which translates to “power over oneself.” He noted that over centuries, temperance has been regarded as essential for self-mastery and maintaining order amid human passions.

The Pope further discussed the practical implications of temperance in everyday life, particularly in managing relationships and emotional responses. 

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“He does not allow a moment’s anger to ruin relationships and friendships that can then only be rebuilt with difficulty,” he said.

In a world prone to excess, the Pope described temperance as aligning well with Gospel values such as modesty and meekness. 

He reassured the audience that temperance does not lead to a joyless existence; rather, it enriches life, allowing one to enjoy its pleasures more profoundly. “On the contrary, it lets one enjoy the goods of life better,” the Pope said. 

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