The virtue of the month for Challenge and Conquest in March is self control. We all want things. When you want something, that is called a desire. We have physical desires such as the desire for food, and we have psychological desires such as the love of fame or praise. When we allow our desires to control us, that is where the problems start. God gave us reason and willpower to help us not be controlled by our desires. We can reason with ourselves and think things through to make good choices. We can have willpower to hold out and wait to do something. When we are controlled by our reason and will – or our spirit – that is what we call SELF control. When we are only controlled by our desires and wants, that is what we call out of control.
Self Control is one of the most important spiritual virtues. We have to keep in mind that self control is for a reason – out of love for God and because if we lived controlled by our desires, the world would be a crazy place. Love for God moves us to do what is right and please God. Self control is one of the ways we do that. The bible compares a person without self control to a city broken into and left without walls. This description shows how important self control is, since it acts like a guard to our life. To be in control of yourself, you need to be patient and persevere.
The best analogy that well describes the marathon spiritual journey of a Christian is what St. Paul speaks about in Corinthians, comparing us all to an athlete who has a desire to win a race before his eyes. He has a clear goal and that is winning the race. To achieve that, he controls his food, sleep, and amount of exercises. He controls his life in pursuit of his goals and dreams. While an athlete does it for a “perishable crown”, we as Catholics have our spiritual goal for an imperishable crown, which is heaven. We all should want to love God and make it to heaven. To do that we control our desires and live a good life.
St Ignatius of Loyola was a strong person with incredible self control. His secret was that he prayed to God for strength. The prayer on the back of the holy card for Challenge this month is one he wrote “O Jesus, when all is darkness and we feel our helplessness, give us the sense of your presence, your love and your strength. Help us to have perfect trust in your protecting love and strengthening power, so that nothing may frighten or worry us.”
The quote of the month from St John Vianney focuses on why we practice self control. He wrote, “It is by resistance to temptations that we give God proofs of our love.” Doing what is pleasing to God and loving Him above all else should be our goal in life. We can’t do that without self control. Self control allows us to put our love for God above our love for ourselves.
The Catechism also speaks of self control in #1804 and it calls it self mastery. “Human virtues are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They make possible ease, self-mastery, and joy in leading a morally good life. The virtuous man is he who freely practices the good.”