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Prudence: The pathway to Peace

August 28, 2020
By Shelly Fellin

Are there moments in your day when you stop and think: “How should I handle this situation?” or “What is my best course of action?”  

Now more than ever we need to step back at times and really consider. “Am I doing the right thing for me and for my family?” With all that we face these days as our lives are influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic we really need to consider all the options in front of us and the consequences of our decisions. It is this discernment the leads us to make prudent decisions for our good and the good of our family and community. Scripture says “the prudent man looks where he is going.” Prov. 14:15

In my last blog I talked about the theological virtues: faith, hope and charity. These virtues are instilled in us by God and help us live out our vocation as children of God and lead us to eternal life. CCC1813

Moral (or human) virtues are obtained by our own effort. And through practice these cardinal virtues guide our actions, desires and conduct in accord with right reason and faith. They play a “pivotal” role in our moral life. These virtues are: Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance, and they make up the core of all the virtues. CCC1804-05 By virtue of our Baptism we are pre-disposed to all the graces we need to practice and grow in these moral virtues. CCC1266

So, what is prudence? Prudence is the virtue that orders “practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means to achieve it.” It is the virtue that directs the judgement of our conscience and in turn determines and guides our actions according to this judgement. It is the virtue of prudence that aids us in forming our conscience. One could say that prudence steers the ship of our conscience. See CCC1806.

We are faced with many decisions every day that impact us in the moment, but some days we are faced with important decisions that affect those we love for many years to come. We need to consider all the choices presented to us and then choose the course of action that will lead to our good and the good of those we love.  As we approach another important election we are called to form our conscience and so to make right judgments for the greater good. A well-formed conscience “formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. The education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin […]” See CCC1783. We must act according to our well-formed conscience and this in turn is where the virtue of prudence plays an important role.

How can we grow in the virtue of Prudence? One way would be by doing a daily examination of conscience and receiving God’s mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation on a regular basis. This Sunday we will hear St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans “Do not conform yourself to the age but be transformed by the renewal of you mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” Rom 12:2 Let us follow his advice and seek the will of God knowing that only through prayer, reading scripture and receiving the Sacraments will we form our conscience so to become the prudent person God created us to be and in turn we will find our peace.