Front Page Titles (by Subject) QUESTION CXLVI.: OF ABSTINENCE. - Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 2 (Summa Theologica - Secunda Secundae Pt.2)
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QUESTION CXLVI.: OF ABSTINENCE. - St. Thomas Aquinas, Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 2 (Summa Theologica - Secunda Secundae Pt.2) 
Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas. A Translation of the Principal Portions of the Second part of the Summa Theologica, with Notes by Joseph Rickaby, S.J. (London: Burns and Oates, 1892).
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Article I.—Is abstinence a virtue?
R. Abstinence by its name implies a subtraction of food. Therefore the name of abstinence may be taken in two ways: in one way, as denoting simply the subtraction of food, and in this way abstinence denotes neither a virtue nor an act of virtue, but something indifferent; in another way, it may be taken as abstinence regulated by reason, and then it signifies either a habit of virtue or an act.
§ 2. Moderation in food as to quantity and quality belongs to the art of medicine, where there is question of the health of the body, but to abstinence where there is question of interior affections as referred to the standard of rational good. Hence Augustine says: “It makes no matter at all to virtue what food or how much one takes, provided he do it according to the decencies of the society that he lives with, and of his own character, and according to the needs of his health; but what does matter to virtue is the ease and serenity of mind with which he goes without these creature comforts, when it is right or necessary to go without them.”
§ 3. It belongs to temperance to bridle delights that overmuch allure the soul to go after them, as it belongs to fortitude to strengthen the soul against fears that repel it from the good of reason. And therefore as the praise of fortitude consists in a certain excess, and from this all the parts of fortitude take their name; so also the praise of temperance consists in a certain defect, or stopping short, and from this temperance itself and all its parts have their name. Hence also abstinence, which is a part of temperance, has its name from defect, or stopping short: and yet it stands in the golden mean, inasmuch as it is according to right reason.
Article II.—Is abstinence a special virtue?
R. Moral virtue preserves the good of reason against the assaults of passion; and therefore where there is found a special way in which passion withdraws us from the good of reason, there is need there of a special virtue. But the pleasures of the table are naturally apt to withdraw a man from the good of reason, both on account of their greatness, as also on account of the necessity of taking food, which man needs for the preservation of life, of which he has the strongest desire. And therefore abstinence is a special virtue.
§ 3. The use of clothes is an introduction of art, but the use of food is of nature; and therefore there rather ought to be a special virtue for moderation in food than for moderation in dress.1
[1 ]In q. 143, St. Thomas has mentioned content and simplicity as dealing, among other things, with moderation in dress. (Trl.)