Temperance is a virtue which can help us to moderate the attraction to substances like alcohol and so avoid excessive use.
Alcohol, when used in moderation,can be good and a part of our social life.However we must remember that alcohol is also the number one drug in our country, and does affect us in some way.
Consider some of these facts:
- Alcohol is a drug, and a drug changes the way the body works.It affects the mind, the body and emotions. Alcohol is a depressant.
- Alcohol affects every single person in Ireland today.We cannot deny this when we consider:
- One in three deaths on the road are alcohol related
- One in four of the most serious domestic abuse cases involve alcohol One.
- One in four A&E admissions are alcohol related (Alcohol Action Ireland 2008).
Heavy drinking affects the health and well-being of many of our friends, family and neighbours and many experts associate depression,anxiety and increasing lack of self confidence with our increased consumption of alcohol.
Alcohol is everywhere in our society and approximately €55million is being spent by the Alcohol Industry convincing us through advertising that it is a necessarypart of a successful lifestyle. it is unfortunate that our young people have to be bombarded with advertisements promoting alcohol products in so many sports arenas, at prime times on our televisions, in flyers distributed alongside so many promotions by pubs,off licenses and supermarkets.
We know anecdotally that every family is in some way affected by alcohol harm in Irish society. An independent national survey of Irish attitudes to alcohol by Alcohol Action Ireland in 2006, found that 82% of people felt that our current alcohol consumption levels are a problem.
All of this tells us something which needs to register with us so that we can see that we can all do something to help, rather than waiting for Government to lead. As a society we need to agree what is acceptable to tolerate or not with regard to drunkenness, harm to self, to others, protection of children and families.
Parents have the greatest influence, power and responsibility over their children especially when it comes to alcohol misuse. Parents and guardians are in the position to show by example, not getting drunk, or showing that alcohol is not the way to cope, or the only way to have a good time. A practical suggestion to consider at this time is to refrain from alcohol during Lent.
Fr Theobald Mathew (1790-1856)
Fr Mathew was a Capuchin friar from Tipperary whose 19thcentury crusade against the abuse of alcohol gained him the title of “Apostle of Temperance”.
Fr Mathew’s call to sobriety has relevance to modern Ireland. The cost to the nation by way of, human suffering, abstention from work, criminality and social upheaval is inestimable. The alarming rise in teenage and underage drinking attracts growing concern and there have been calls for well-prepared alcohol awareness programmes for schools.
Fr Mathew’s Prayer
Compassionate Lord and Saviour,
you inspired the Capuchin Friar Theobold Mathew to show your compassionate face to those addicted and burdened by the abuse of alcohol or addicted behavior, and to promote temperance.
May we today, continue to serve our brothers and sisters with love and joy, And to foster balance, and moderation in our life styles with the help of God.
So, we pray, “here goes in the name of God.”