I have been on radio silence for some time, as I am constantly working through many intricate life questions the Lord has placed before me. With some new light given, things are much clearer, but the question is always: what next?
This very short post is on prudence. Let us define prudence to begin:
Correct knowledge about things to be done or, more broadly, the knowledge of things that ought to be done and of things that ought to be avoided. It is the intellectual virtue whereby a human being recognizes in any matter at hand what is good and what is evil. In this sense, it is the moral virtue that enables a person to devise, choose, and prepare suitable means for the attainment of any purpose or the avoidance of any evil. Prudence resides in the practical intellect and is both acquire by one’s own acts and infused at the same time as sanctifying grace. It may be said to be natural as developed by us, and supernatural because conferred by God. As an act of virtue, prudence involves three stages of mental operation: to take counsel carefully with oneself and from others; to judge correctly on the basis of the evidence at hand; and to direct the rest of one’s activity according to the norms determined after a prudent judgment has been made – http://www.catholicculture.org
In short, it is knowing how to act correctly in any given situation. The virtue of prudence enables us to think through the options by means of the intellect, and than moving the will to act accordingly. When we say, someone has prudence, or they are prudent, I would equate that to someone who thinks before they act, rather than someone who acts before they think, the latter being someone who is imprudent. Let’s look at an example: we are on a diet, and someone had brought in some cake to work. While our appetite is driven to consume the cake, through prudence, we work through the various thought processes and arguments, and ultimately conclude that by eating the cake, we would be cheating our diet, and therefore, we should not eat the cake. This was a prudent choice as the individual chose to stick to a good (the diet), when presented with a temptation (the cake).
The example above is very temporal and simplistic. While the application of prudence on temporal matters is important, it is not as important as compared to the application of prudence on spiritual matters, for I think when it comes to temporal matters, we often exercise prudence more diligently, but when it comes to spiritual matters, this seems to be all but forgotten. Let us look at a spiritual example of this. We are given a book, whose author we do not know, and who is writing on some spiritual manner. The book was given to us by a friend who proclaims this to be the most spiritually moving book ever written. How many of you would read the book without any hesitation? How many of you would stop and consider whether what you are consuming is beneficial or harmful to your own soul? Have you thought about looking up the author to see their views and opinions? We have no issue practicing prudence with regards to temporal matters, as some of us may spend hours in our day obsessing about what type of food we put into our body, and what Tupperware we store our food in to make sure there is no BPA, but when it comes to anything spiritual, we exercise no restraint. How imprudent and dangerous!
I want to conclude with some advice: do exercise prudence in spiritual matters. Spend some time looking at what you read, what spiritual exercises you perform, and think through whether it is prudent to do so. This may mean doing some research, and some digging, but I think the value of preventing any type of poison to enter your soul is infinitely more valuable than spending 15 minutes doing some background work. Do not assume that every author has the salvation of your soul in their minds. Some of the work is intended to cause confusion and division, for the devil has many means to thwart the efforts of souls who wish to journey towards perfection.
Blessed Mother, pray for us!