Started by TerrorDæmonum, March 24, 2022, 04:14:24 PM

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This post is about an aspect of moral theology which is frequently a matter of venial sin. Those prone to scrupulosity may want to refrain from reading it entirely. Those prone to jocularity may want to study it closely. If my words do not help, ignore them and focus on the sources and contemplate why this is taught through the Church. This is posted in Lent, and this might be particularly relevant to the season.

Quote from: Ephesians 5:3-4
But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not so much as be named among you, as becometh saints: Or obscenity, or foolish talking, or scurrility, which is to no purpose; but rather giving of thanks.

Scurrility is in the Latin scurrilitas and in the Greek ??????????. It is next to foolish talking and related to it.

Scurrility refers to speech that is buffoon-like and jocular, and might be translated as jocosity.

Scurrility is unbecoming by nature. It is a matter of moral precept to decline from it and do what is good instead. As it is a matter of speech, we should be very careful not to underestimate the dangers that are present. Speech is very difficult to control and frequently easily overlooked.

While scurrilousness is not usually a major moral concern, nobody is perfect and this is a very difficult area, it is worth considering as it might be related to other more serious moral matters.

It is associated with the Capital Vice of Gluttony. This is a theological connection and it may not be that the daughters of a vice are necessarily useful for practical morality, it is a useful connection to consider:

Quote from: Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Question 148
Article 6. Whether six daughters are fittingly assigned to gluttony?

On the contrary, Gregory (Moral. xxxi, 45) assigns these daughters to gluttony.

I answer that, As stated above (1 and 2,3), gluttony consists properly in an immoderate pleasure in eating and drinking. Wherefore those vices are reckoned among the daughters of gluttony, which are the results of eating and drinking immoderately. These may be accounted for either on the part of the soul or on the part of the body. on the part of the soul these results are of four kinds.

First, as regards the reason, whose keenness is dulled by immoderate meat and drink, and in this respect we reckon as a daughter of gluttony, "dullness of sense in the understanding," on account of the fumes of food disturbing the brain. Even so, on the other hand, abstinence conduces to the penetrating power of wisdom, according to Ecclesiastes 2:3, "I thought in my heart to withdraw my flesh from wine, that I might turn my mind in wisdom."

Secondly, as regards the. appetite, which is disordered in many ways by immoderation in eating and drinking, as though reason were fast asleep at the helm, and in this respect "unseemly joy" is reckoned, because all the other inordinate passions are directed to joy or sorrow, as stated in Ethic. ii, 5. To this we must refer the saying of 3 Esdra 3:20, that "wine . . . gives every one a confident and joyful mind."

Thirdly, as regards inordinate words, and thus we have "loquaciousness," because as Gregory says (Pastor. iii, 19), "unless gluttons were carried away by immoderate speech, that rich man who is stated to have feasted sumptuously every day would not have been so tortured in his tongue."

Fourthly, as regards inordinate action, and in this way we have "scurrility," i.e. a kind of levity resulting from lack of reason, which is unable not only to bridle the speech, but also to restrain outward behavior. Hence a gloss on Ephesians 5:4, "Or foolish talking or scurrility," says that "fools call this geniality—i.e. jocularity, because it is wont to raise a laugh." Both of these, however, may be referred to the words which may happen to be sinful, either by reason of excess which belongs to "loquaciousness," or by reason of unbecomingness, which belongs to "scurrility."

Of particular relevance:

Quote from: [quote=Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Question 148, Article 6 this way we have "scurrility," i.e. a kind of levity resulting from lack of reason, which is unable not only to bridle the speech, but also to restrain outward behavior. Hence a gloss on Ephesians 5:4, "Or foolish talking or scurrility," says that "fools call this geniality—i.e. jocularity, because it is wont to raise a laugh.

The particular danger of scurrility is that it is a tendency towards jocularity, joking, which can even involve habitual lying and derision, and these can be mortal sins when the lies go beyond jocose lies (venial sins) to malicious lies and when the derision is directed towards God or things of God.

For this reason the usual venial issues must be treated seriously: they are of capital vices, very easy to commit, and can lead to very grave sins of particular seriousness to warrant care in avoiding and correcting, even if one has a habitual failing, it is worth reigning it in and mortifying one's passions on this specifically so they do not become more.

Scurrility, jocose lies, sarcasm and irony, derision can be quite insidious habits which lead to ingrained vice which may grow much deeper.

Avoiding these entirely is a noble goal, but the main concern, as with gluttony, is to mortify the flesh by deliberately striving to exercise control. This sort of deliberately "fasting" would be more like deliberate exercise of restraint in being serious, avoiding excess joking, and examining how one actually speaks.

If these things go too far, one will be making light of serious things, and might be unable to recognize what is serious and what is light. This indeed would be buffoonery and what the scriptures frequently call the actions of a fool. The dangers of this are not just for those who are afflicted, but those who are exposed to them, for they may be lead to the same errors:

Quote from: Proverbs 26:4-5Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou be made like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he imagine himself to be wise.

Being quick to jocularity and making light and foolish talking may be a sign one needs to fast: to be more serious and mortify the flesh, so one's mind is able to be open to understanding, for another daughter of gluttony is dullness of sense in the understanding.

Quote from: Proverbs 12:15
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that is wise hearkeneth unto counsels.

Quote from: Proverbs 14:9
A fool will laugh at sin, but among the just grace shall abide.

Quote from: Proverbs 14:16
A wise man feareth and declineth from evil: the fool leapeth over and is confident.

Quote from: Proverbs 18:7
The mouth of a fool is his destruction: and his lips are the ruin of his soul.