MODERATION

The long standing practice of Catholicism has been moderation in all things. ‘Moderation’ comes from the Latin word ‘modus’ which refers to ‘measure,’ and pertains, according to Webster’s Dictionary, to observing reasonable limits – avoiding extremes of behavior or expression. Time and again from the earliest days of the Church to this very day zealot groups have been less than moderate in their approach to Christianity. Likewise in other religious traditions. Not without struggle the Church has been able to return to moderate ways only to face new fundamentalists or extremists. The ‘modus operandi’ for the Church remains that of moderation.

One of the great Fathers of the Church, St. Gregory of Nyssa, who lived in the fourth century, wrote about moderation in our actions. Gregory is venerated as a great theologian by Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, Lutheranism and Anglicanism. Gregory wrote about a harmony between our inner self and our external self that comes from Christ. Gregory called this harmony a kind of music inspired by Christ which leads to moderation and goodness in our behavior.

I would propose this message of moderation and goodness as critically pertinent to today’s societal settings which seem to give rise to all kinds of extremes and exaggerations. Radical or fundamental extremism can take hold of religious practice. Politics can deteriorate into tribal warfare where nothing good can be found outside the tribe. Business can degenerate into hostile competitiveness that seeks to destroy or eliminate the competitor. Parents can become overprotective of their children stifling their freedom. Relationships can become oversensitive and controlling.

Whether we eat or drink, whatever we do, let us do it in the name of the Lord. When our behavior no longer gives glory to God it has become immoderate. All things in moderation. Of course, I mean moderation in all good things. Moderation and goodness in our thoughts, words and actions.

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