In our previous bulletin we have been discussing on the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity(love). These theological virtues put us in contact with God, enabling us, to know Him, trust in His promises and goodness, and love Him. As we reflect on theological virtues, there need for additional, moral virtues which concerns self-control and our relationship with others. There are many moral virtues but there four cardinal virtues under which all other moral virtues may be classified as: Prudence, Justice, fortitude, and temperance. Many times, in our daily activities, whether we are at home, workplace, or Church, we have used this word, Prudence, knowingly, or unknowingly when we are conversing or making the decision.
Today we are going to discuss one of the four Cardinal Virtues, which is Prudence. Among these, Prudence is a mother of all other virtues. What is Prudence? I do recall my mother telling me always before you act or make any decisions, be prudent. So, the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines prudence as follows: “prudence disposes the practical reason to discern, in every circumstance, our true good and to choose the right means for achieving it.” (CCC, 1835).
Additionally, St. John Paul II, in his Papal audience, explains Prudence by saying that “the prudent man, who strives for everything that is good, endeavors to measure everything, every situation, and his whole activity according to the yardstick of the? moral good. So, a prudent man is not one who as is often meant can wangle things in life and draw the most significant profit from it; but one who is able to construct his whole life according to the voice of upright conscience and according to the requirements of sound morality” (Pope St. John Paul II, General audience, Wednesday, 25 1978).
Prudence is known to be the mother of all virtues because it is the first step towards working to be a good human being. According to Josef Pieper claims that none but the prudent man can be just, brave, and temperate, and the good is a man who is able to make the right decision; he or she must be able to know what is good and what is not good. So, Prudence is being able to recognize what is good and always being able to act in a good way.
Prudence in our daily life activities has to shape us. So, how and when can we know that a person is prudent? A prudent person looks at the concrete reality of a situation with apparent, honest objectivity; references and applies the moral truths for example, the Ten Commandments or the precepts of the Church. Moreover, Prudence also seeks to accomplish the action in a good way doing what is right in a good way. Prudence helps us prudently to care of others through counsel we give. Moreover, thanks to the virtue of Prudence, one is able to judge rightly and reads the signs of his/her time. Prudence helps the intellect see the right thing to do and to choose the right means for achieving it. Wise choice involves taking good counsel while acquiring knowledge from the past and present. In the same line, we are not simply or only acting individuals, but we need good and prudent friends to help us with counsel, choices, and decision making.
In short, in order to know what to seek and avoid, Prudence is needed to be applied in our daily life as Christians. To pursue the common good for all, Prudence is necessary. Prudence helps us to see what aids the human salvation and what limits our progress. As the book of proverbs puts it: “The heart of wise make their mouths prudent, and their lips promote instructions (Prov 16:23).
For further reading on the four Cardinal virtues by Josef Pieper can be found on online: fourcardinalvirt012953mbp.pdf.