Front Page Titles (by Subject) QUESTION CXLIX.: OF SOBRIETY. - Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 2 (Summa Theologica - Secunda Secundae Pt.2)
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QUESTION CXLIX.: OF SOBRIETY. - 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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§ 1. Food and drink alike may hinder the good of reason, overwhelming it in excess of pleasure; and on that score abstinence is concerned alike with food and drink. But intoxicating liquor hinders reason in a special manner, and therefore requires a special virtue.
Article III.—Is the use of wine altogether unlawful?
R. No food or drink considered in itself is unlawful, according to the sentence of our Lord, who says: “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man.”1 And therefore to drink wine, ordinarily speaking, is not unlawful. But it may be rendered unlawful incidentally; sometimes from the condition of him who drinks, because he is easily hurt by wine, or because he is bound by a special vow not to drink wine; sometimes from the manner of drinking, because one exceeds due measure; sometimes on the part of others, who are scandalized thereby.2
§ 1. Wisdom may be had in two ways. In one way, according to the common measure, sufficiently for salvation; and for this measure of wisdom it is not requisite that one should abstain altogether from wine, but only from the immoderate use of it. In another way, wisdom may be had in some degree of perfection; and for that it is requisite in some persons for the perfect perception of wisdom that they should be total abstainers from wine, where conditions of place and person so require.
§ 2. The Apostle1 does not say that it is good to abstain from wine absolutely, but only in the case of some being scandalized at our use of it.
§ 3. Christ withdraws us from some things as being entirely unlawful, from other things as being hinderances to perfection; and in this way He withdraws some from wine on a motive of zeal for perfection, as He withdraws others from riches and such like things.
Article IV.—Is sobriety more requisite in greater personages?
R. Virtue has regard to two things: on the one hand, to the contrary vices which it excludes, and to the appetites which it curbs; and on the other hand, to the end to which it leads. Thus then there may be two reasons for which a given virtue is more requisite in certain persons. One reason would be because in some persons there is greater proneness to the desires that need to be curbed by virtue, and to the vices that are put away by virtue. And in this way sobriety is especially required in young men and in women. Hence, according to Valerius Maximus, among the ancient Romans women used not to drink wine. The other reason for sobriety being more requisite in certain persons, is because it is more necessary to their special work. Wine taken in immoderate quantities is a marked hinderance to the use of reason; and therefore upon old men, whose reason ought to be active for the instruction of others, and upon bishops, or ministers of the Church, who ought devoutly to apply to spiritual duties, and upon kings, whose wisdom ought to be their subjects’ guide—sobriety is especially enjoined.
[1 ]St. Matt. xv. 11.
[2 ]See q. 43. (Trl.)
[1 ]Romans xiv. 21.