Few people wake up in the morning and reach inwards to locate their golden source of restraint, believing that it will support them throughout the day.  Yet once you untangle it from its web of negative connotations – most of which more fairly belong to constraint – you could find that this is the virtue on which all the others depend.

Stephanie Dowrick
Forgiveness and Other Acts of Love


The word restraint certainly does have negative connotations today.  Most of us would probably associate it with words such as confinement, constraint, control, censure, brake, curb, suppression and even words such as captivity, blockade, barricade.  Restraint is not something which, at face value, is held up as attractive in a world where so much emphasis is given to free expression, individualism and the right to be and do whatever feels just right for me.  However, as we explore this and reflect on how and where we might practise restraint, we do find that it is quite the opposite of those limiting negative connotations, and is in fact an expression of freedom and an essential characteristic and practice in the development of a healthy Christian spirituality.

As we look back over the years, and over several millennia, we find a number of sayings about restraint which show that in the past this was indeed held up as a virtue.  Mahatma Gandhi said, “It is his restraint that is honorable to a person, not their liberty”…

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Ms Kerry McCullough

Spirituality and Liturgy Coordinator