Sunday, 08 December 2019 18:18

Sacrament of reconciliation and purification from sin - The four temperaments (Part 3)

Written by

 Continuing from the last issue —most of us exhibit a combination of the four temperaments, but one usually predominates. Our temperaments are innate and hereditary. They are permanent and can be modified only secondarily without being totally eliminated. Acquiring the moral virtues are the greatest means to shape and modify the temperaments. This knowledge helps people to know themselves better, and to find good strategies for overcoming bad habits. In the last issue we examined the temperaments: sanguine and melancholic. The remaining two, choleric and phlegmatic:


This temperament is what is often characterized as a “go-getter,” or “mover-and-shaker.” Cholerics are strongly aroused and the impression lasts for a long time. They have great energy, sharp intellect, strong and resolute will, practicality, and excel at risk-taking and taking initiative. Inactivity is repugnant to them; therefore, the choleric always has an iron in many fires.

The weaknesses of this temperament are as obvious as its strengths, as they are often tied together. Cholerics can be insensitive to others, stubborn, prideful, violent, cruel and impulsive. They can, unfortunately, make people feel stepped on or used, and can lack compassion.


This type of temperament is rarely aroused emotionally and, if so, only weakly. They work slowly but assiduously. They are not easily irritated by insults, misfortune or sickness. They can remain tranquil, balanced and have good common sense.

Phlegmatics’ defects are that they are sometimes too slow and calm, which causes them to lose many good opportunities because they delay in putting works into operation. They tend to be insular, and live in and for themselves.

In Conclusion:

As was stated earlier, most of us are a combination of these temperaments. Yet, it is helpful for us to discover the predominate temperament in order to know which virtues are suitable to acquire. With each temperament there are unique strengths and weaknesses. The practice of virtue enables the strengths to be honed and the weaknesses to be modified. With the practice of the sacrament of penance, and the knowledge of the temperaments to discover our strengths and weaknesses, we have the God-given grace and wisdom to answer the call to discipleship, growth in holiness and to become the greatest of saints.

Next Issue: Docility to the Holy Spirit.