The Cardinal Virtues // Prudence

Dear God into your hands I place my life, that every decision I make there will be wisdom, intelligence and prudence, that I may always do your will instead of mine Amen

Prudence will watch over you; and understanding will guard you Proverbs 2:11

According to St. Thomas Aquinas, a virtue is a good quality of the mind that allows us to live righteously and can’t be abused or misused. I often compare the four cardinal virtues to the four points of the compass. Prudence is North, the virtue that guides all the others and is the virtue people search for the most.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstances and to choose the right means of achieving it...With the help of this virtue, we apply moral principles to particular cases without error and overcome doubts about the good to achieve and the evil to avoid.”

There are a lot of moments in TV shows and movies where people say “The ends justify the means.” Just think of any two-faced politician who acts benevolent to the public and yet acts maliciously behind closed doors or the anti-hero who is willing to torture those he interrogates as a way of getting information. Not to mention the often-heard phrase that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

When we practice the virtue of prudence, we try to choose an action where the choices we make to accomplish what we want are truly good choices. In making the right choice, we have no shadow of a doubt. We have that feeling in our hearts and our guts that this choice we make is a good one. The way we can make sure of that is asking the Holy Spirit for guidance and making sure that our choices align with what God has taught us about right and wrong.

We may not feel happy when we choose to do the right thing, but there’s still a sense of conviction and peace that comes over us when we make the right choice. The virtue of prudence can help us when we get caught in a dilemma and help us see past our good intentions. 

To Jesus through Mary-Monique Ocampo

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