In our media-saturated, easy-going, say-what-I-want world, it can be so easy to forget to guard our words and actions. As some of our peers are using foul language and sleeping way past Mass on Sunday, it’s so important to remember that the Lord calls us on to something with not just earthly benefits, but heavenly rewards.
The Church gives us the four cardinal virtues to help us along in our quest for holiness. The cardinal virtues are Prudence, Justice, Temperance, and Fortitude. They are the four virtues on which every single other virtue is “hinged”, we could say. Prudence, we could say, helps set us up for success with the other three.
St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the most brilliant Catholic minds of all time, says that prudence is “right reason in action”. Prudence helps us to decide what is right, and then to do it.
Every day, we are called to be prudent. We may make the decision to get up an hour earlier to get to Sunday Mass. Maybe we’ll have to walk away from a conversation where others are tearing people down. Or maybe, like I had to do this last weekend, we’ll have to choose to fulfill a task we’ve committed to doing instead of attending a niece’s soccer tournament.
You see, prudence doesn’t only help us in our spiritual lives, but in our daily lives with our family or in school as well. Prudence tells you that it wouldn’t be good to eat a whole box of cookies, or to sit in the middle of the road at night.
Or the one I have the most difficult time with: not leaving paper-writing to the night before a big assignment is due!
So what are the best ways to grow in prudence? Well, the first thing we need to do is to pray. Use scripture to guide your prayer – Proverbs has lots of verses about being prudent in our speech. It’s also important to surround ourselves with other people who are prudent – these people can be parents, priests, youth ministers, older siblings, or teachers, to name a few.
Lastly, before you make a big decision or say something you might regret, stop. and. think. Even if just for a moment, that moment could be the difference between a prudent decision and something you’ll regret. Use that little moment to say a small pray- something like “Jesus, I trust in You”, or “Lord, give me prudence right now”.
This week, pray that the Lord will show you how to be prudent. It’s easy to identify situations where we need prudence, we just need to ask God for the gift of prudence and then we need to cultivate the habit of this virtue through our actions.