A Balanced Day, Part 5
May 16, 2020 COVID-19 Faith Reflection—A Balanced Day, part 5
As society has been “getting back to normal,” this series of reflections “A Balanced Day” starts with question, “What is normal?”
Part 1 and 2 of “A Balanced Day” were about the importance of prayer for a balanced day. Normal Christians pray daily at least 30 minutes. If you start your day with two hours of prayer, you are in good company with Pope Francis. Three to four hours a day, you are keeping up with the Dalai Lama and monks. Like physical exercise, it is normal to spend 30 minutes daily in spiritual exercise.
Part 3 of “A Balanced Day” was about habits, those things we do without thinking, such as checking messages on the cell phone before rolling out of bed in the morning. For good or bad, habits have great power to shape our “normal.”
The virtues are the attitudes that drive good habits. Virtues are the abiding tendencies that enable us to do good reliably and consistently. Yesterday, part 4 of “A Balanced Day”, introduced the virtue of temperance. It enables us to live a balanced day reliably and consistently. I’d like to say a little more how, for a Christian, temperance is “normal.”
The book, “Virtues Abounding,” examines St. Thomas Aquinas’ teaching on the cardinal virtue of temperance. My former teacher at St. Meinrad Seminary, Father Mark O’Keefe, wrote that temperance not about banning drinking. Temperance directs our desires, particularly bodily desires for food, drink and sex, towards moderation and balance. It gets us off the unicycle and leads us to a balanced day.
Temperance in eating—the habitual disposition to eat the right foods at the appropriate time in the right amount—is easier said than done. I love to eat. I love breakfast, snacks, lunch, snacks, dinner, and more snacks. And do not stand between me and a bar of chocolate. Aquinas would rightly say that my lack of moderation in eating is the vice of gluttony. An ancient remedy for gluttony is fasting. No wonder that fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday is a struggle!
Temperance in drinking—moderation in drink and in appropriate circumstances—is woven into Scripture. “Wine drunk at the proper time and in moderation is rejoicing of heart and gladness of soul” (Sirach 31:27-28). Or at Benjamin Franklin said, “Wine is proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.” Drinking to excess, on the other hand, opens the door to poor judgment and great suffering such as drunk driving.
Temperance in sex—the habitual disposition to act moderately and appropriately in the use of our sexuality—is also known as chastity. As God created sexual desire, it is in itself good and natural. Sexual activity in marriage is good as is its pleasure. The opposite of chastity is the vice of lust. Like gluttony, lust is a capital sin. It leads to other sins that corrupt and kill our relationships with the Lord and one another.
I was glad to read that temperance includes balance in work and play. At the end of the day, if I feel out of sorts, I run through a checklist of three things. Did I pray today? Did I serve today? Did I play today? Usually I fall short of play or pray. It feels good to know that Thomas Aquinas wants me to play! Our stay-at-home condition has limited my distractions so that I have time to enjoy a virtual birthday party where two-ply toilet paper was the go-to gift. Pray-serve-play keeps my day in balance.
Temperance moderates our desires about our external appearance. Aquinas is not a fashionista or fussy about dress. It is normal, rather, that our appearance is neither too revealing or vain, on the one hand, or slovenly and dirty on the other. Temperance directs us to give moderate attention to our wardrobe.
In our society, temperance in eating, drinking and sex is up to the individual. It is normal, in its view, to eat, drink, and have sex as you desire. In contrast, being Christian means not indulging every desire. Instead, the Christian life cultivates the virtue of temperance to discern moderation and balance ordered not towards following one’s desires but towards following Christ. “Getting back to normal” for a Christian means living a balanced day ultimately centered on Christ.
Good news! Public morning Mass resumes this Monday, May 18 at the regular time of 8:30 a.m. The main doors of the church open at 8:00 AM and the church remains open after Mass until 12:00 NOON for personal prayer. We will continue livestreaming morning Mass.
When you are in the church building, please observe social distancing. Every other pew is blocked off to keep us six feet apart. A member of the staff is present to assist you and to sanitize the high-touch areas.
We have removed hymnals and missalettes. Download an app such as the iBreviary app to your smart phone to get the daily Mass readings
The bishop has directed at this time that Communion consist only of the host. We will not offer the chalice. The Church teaches that Christ, whole and entire, is received in each of the consecrated elements. We receive the Christ, the Lord himself, His Body and Blood, sacrificed on Calvary for the forgiveness of our sins and raised from the dead and ascended to the right hand of the Father. The communion minister will wear a facemask. Out of care for the priest, deacon or the staff member who offers us Communion, please receive the Sacred Host in the hand.
Face masks are strongly encouraged at all times while in the church building. If you need help acquiring a mask, please contact the parish office.
Adoration on Friday mornings resumes on Friday, May 22, following Daily Mass through when the church closes at 12:00 NOON.
On Saturdays, the sacrament of Reconciliation in the church resumes. As always, confession is also available by appointment by contacting the parish office 407-322-3961.
More details at
. Welcome back!
Nativity Longwood .
on Saturday, May 16 at 6:04PM