Do You Know Your Lenten Temperament?


What Is Your Lenten Temperament?

We are not yet halfway through Lent, so it’s a good time to take stock. Don’t be discouraged; it’s not too late to get back on track!

The perfect Lenten temperament

Lent is made for melancholics. Melancholics take a peculiar kind of pleasure in difficult Lenten sacrifices. My husband, for example, gave up coffee for many Lents. It was a real cross for all of us. He would be cranky, tired, and (like Dory the forgetful fish in Finding Nemo) never remembered why he always felt as though he were coming down with the flu the first few days of Lent.

I finally convinced him to consume at least some caffeine in the form of tea. But that small concession grated against his purist philosophy of Lent. Melancholics relish the challenge of 40 days, they wear their ashes proudly on Ash Wednesday, and embrace the penitential season. They would wear sackcloth if they could.

I love Lent: the ashes, the 40 days, the giving things up. I'd wear sackcloth if I could.Click To Tweet

If they accidentally eat a small bite of meat on Friday, they will take themselves severely to task and then immediately go to Confession. They don’t believe in taking Sundays and feast days off. More mortification! Long suffering! That’s the spirit!

The joyful Lenten temperament

Sanguines like to remind their melancholic friends that Lent does not include Sundays and there are important feast days that offer respite to Lenten mortifications: St. Patrick’s Day, St. Joseph’s and, of course, the Annunciation.

If the Annunciation falls on a Friday in Lent, the sanguine will remind everyone that it’s not only permissible to eat meat, it is a required day of feasting and rejoicing!

Are you the Catholic who reminds everyone that Sundays and solemnities are not part of Lent?Click To Tweet

Sanguines often struggle to maintain consistency throughout Lent. One sanguine I know chose a different sacrifice each week. That was an achievable goal, as opposed to giving up sweets for the entire 40 days.

The one and done Lenten temperament

Pope John Paul the First described the choleric as one who, upon seeing a sheer cliff, would pronounce: “A cliff like this is made to be overcome!” and then would attack it like his mortal enemy.

This is how the choleric attacks Lent, too. He sets a goal and then ferociously charges up that cliff.

If he doesn’t reach the summit, he won’t waste any time beating himself up about it. There are other mountains to conquer!

Cholerics attack Lent like a mountain climber attacks a sheer cliff. Quickly and ferociously.Click To Tweet

The pondering Lenten temperament

The phlegmatic takes his time when choosing a Lenten sacrifice. He wants to be sure it’s something he can accomplish—it’s neither too drastic nor too easy, it reflects the proper spirit of Lent, and will not inconvenience anyone else in his family or at work.

On second thought, perhaps instead of giving something up, he muses to himself, he should do something positive and charitable. He then ponders what that might be: not something too drastic, certainly nothing showy or flashy, yet something beneficial that will properly manifest the Lenten spirit.

If by this time, Lent is not over, the phlegmatic will ploddingly and steadfastly work to achieve his Lenten goal.

If it takes you half of Lent to decide on the perfect Lenten may be phlegmatic. Click To Tweet

During Lent we call to mind the forty years the Israelites wandered the desert, totally dependent on the mercy and grace of God. We meditate on the forty days and forty nights Jesus spent in prayer and fasting in the wilderness, tempted by the devil. And he tells each of us, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34).

Whatever our temperament, Lent is a beautiful time of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, leaving the attachments of this world so that we might grow closer to Christ.

It’s not too late to begin anew.



  1. Linda-1321221 March 25, 2017 Reply

    I am so much a Sanguine Lenten temperament..

  2. Jason R-1427276 March 18, 2017 Reply

    Joyful Lenten temperament.

  3. Gary-1084326 March 17, 2017 Reply

    I agree Brian. As a melancholic-phlegmatic, I’ll think about offering up some sort of redemptive suffering for our brothers James and Stephen. Oh… wait…. is that corned-beef I’m smelling?

  4. Brian-278516 March 17, 2017 Reply

    @ James & Stephens there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Temperaments and certain nothing anti-Catholic. they have been used for centuries by religious orders to help with discernment of vocations. You guys are not only being ridiculous but you are spewing falsehoods.

    • James-141787 March 18, 2017 Reply

      Sorry. No falsehoods here. The temperaments have no scientific basis. They go back to Galen and Hippocrates in Classical times, and possibly Egypt or Mesopotamia before that. There is nothing particularly Catholic about them, though Catholics have used them at various times. The idea that different balances in the four humors–blood, black bile, yellow bile, and phlegm–might impact personality was propounded in the Islamic scholar Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine, which was widely used at medieval universities. Since then they have been linked with astrology and various early psychological theories, none of which is remotely Catholic. It’s all made up. The Catholic Church owes a lot to Aristotle, who defined hot, cold, wet, and dry and the four basic qualities, and provided categories for logical reasoning, but Aristotle’s science has sometimes led the Church astray, and other writers’ theories of the Four Humors, the Four Temperaments (from the mixing of Humors), and the Four Elements need not be taken too seriously. We might give equal attention to the Chinese Zodiac or the Cosmo Quiz. There are plenty of modern personality types or profiles that have a bit of empirical science to their credit. Why not use those?

  5. Syreeta-1428748 March 16, 2017 Reply

    “Sahte kardeşler zanaatkar bir şekilde içeri girdiler, zira bu Müslümanlar İsa Mesih’te sahip olduğumuz özgürlüğümüzü anlamak için geldi, çünkü onlar bizi kölelecekti. Kime ihanet ettik ki, bir saat boyunca değil, Müjde’nin gerçeği sizinle kalabilir. “Galatyalılar 2: 4,5.
    “Çünkü gizlice girilen (ki bu kararlara önceden emredilmiş olan) bazı insanlar şaşkınlık içindeyiz; Tanrımızın lütufunu şaşkına çevirip, tek Dominator’ı ve Rab İsa Mesih’i inkar ederek … Tanrı’nın Oğlu’na kendileri için tekrar çarmıha geriyorlar Ve onu alay yapmak “. Saint Jude 4; İbranilere Mektup 6: 6.
    “Fakat halkta sahte peygamberler vardı. Senin içinde olduğu gibi, yalan söyleme mezhepleri getirecek olan usta da olacaktı ve onları satın aldığını, Rab’bin inkar etmesine izin verdiler: kendilerine hızlı öngörüler getiriyorlardı. Ve birçokları, hakikat yolunun küfredileceği sadakati takip edecekler. Avutarlık içinde, tezgâhtar kelimelerle sana malları verirler “2. Petrus 2: 1-3.

  6. Anthony-1410086 March 14, 2017 Reply

    If you take the quiz and take time to compare to other profiles you just might learn something (perhaps) about the value of: compromise, idealism, work, and healthy emotional habits. This was a fun read.

  7. James-141787 March 14, 2017 Reply

    Honestly, why does CM publish this “temperament” stuff? It’s ridiculous.

    • Stephen-1288230 March 15, 2017 Reply

      “Because of the false brethren craftily brought in, which craftily came in to espy our liberty that we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into servitude. To whom we yielded not subjection no not for an hour, that the truth of the Gospel may remain with you.” Galatians 2:4,5.
      “For there are certain men secretly entered in (which were long ago prescribed unto this judgment) impious, transferring the grace of our God into riotousness, and denying the only Dominator, and our Lord Jesus Christ… crucifying again to themselves the Son of God and making him a mockery.” Saint Jude 4; Hebrews 6:6.
      “But there were also false prophets in the people, as also in you there shall be lying masters which shall bring in sects of perdition, and deny him that hath bought them, the Lord: bringing upon themselves speedy predition. And many shall follow their riotousnesses, by whom the way of truth shall be blasphemed. And in avarice shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you” II Peter 2:1-3.

    • Margo-694702 March 15, 2017 Reply

      Temperaments aren’t evil, but if they’re not your thing, then don’t read the posts. Quit complaining 😉

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