Prayer for Self-Control:
Thank you for all the desires You have given me, because they remind me of the desire in my heart that only You can fill! Help me to control my tongue when I am supposed to be silent; my hands when I am supposed to keep them to myself; my eyes when I am supposed to be focused on a particular person or thing; and my ears to listen to only those things I am supposed to hear.
If we were to survey which virtue most people have heard about for their entire life, it would probably be self-control. For this reason, it may also be the one we most readily dismiss. But self-control is essential, and is related to the cardinal virtue of temperance, which helps us balance our desires for the good pleasures we enjoy, avoiding either too much or too little.
Living self-control also requires the other cardinal virtues that “hinge” with temperance, namely fortitude, prudence, and justice. Let me illustrate this point with one example. The prayer for self-control, included in this post, consists of this petition: “Help me to control my tongue when I am supposed to be silent.” To control one’s tongue requires prudence, using our reason, and recognizing when it is appropriate to speak or when it is not. Fortitude, or courage, enables us to either remain silent or speak in a difficult situation, like detraction or calumny (gossip). And finally, justice strengthens our will to judge what is fair to others involved. Self-control stretches our emotions to keep the tongue or fingers (in texting) ordered adequately to what is reasonable and fair.
May we take a renewed look at this much-needed virtue in our culture and our personal lives.