Saturday, May 06, 2006

Usque ad hilaritatem...


Quaeritur: Perhaps you could help me with this: YEARS ago I remember perusing St. Thomas--I don't even know what work I was reading at the time--about drunkeness, and recall him saying that one could drink "usque ad hilaritatem". For the life of me, now, I can't remember where it was that I found that. Do you have any idea???

-I looked and looked for that phrase "usque ad hilaritatem" in Aquinas and didn't find it. I looked on the internet and found only "bloggers" attributing it to Aquinas, but none of them gave references. But one blogger said that that phrase came from the "old Manuals." So, since I do have a good dozen of those manuals, I started searching... And most of those that were popular in seminaries before Vatican II (viz., Noldin-Schmidt, Aertnys, Tanquerey, Merkelbach, etc.) did not have the phrase---they did have the basic idea, but expressed differently (e.g., non licet inebriari usque ad ammisionem usus rationis).

But right when I was getting ready to give up, I found Prummer. Eureka!

Here's the text (with the relevant phrase highlighted):

2. Ebrietas imperfecta est ex se solum peccatum veniale. Ratio est, quia talis ebrietas est ex se deordinatio levis non destruens usum rationis. Existente sufficienti causa etiam extrinseca, e. gr. ad melancholiam pellendam, in nuptiis aliisque festivitatibus mundanis, ebrietas imperfecta ex se nullum est peccatum, nisi tamen inde scandalum aliudve grave incommodum oriatur. Hinc bibere usque ad hilaritatem per se quidem non est illicitum, sed clericus, paterfamilias aliaeque personae in dignitate constitutae evitare debent huiusmodi hilaritatem, quoniam facile exinde oriri possunt grave scandalum, aliaque gravia incommoda. (Dominicus Prummer, O.P. Manuale Theologiae Moralis: Secundum Principia S. Thomae Aquinatis, Tomus II, p. 520)

As the other blogger put it, this phrase represents an "eminently Catholic attitude" towards drinking. After all... in vino veritas!

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