Trust in Him

Friday, May 7, 2010

Prudence


I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion.
(Proverbs 8:12)

While the majority of my posts inevitably speak of our duties towards God and our neighbor, I am about to describe an aspect of the virtue of Prudence which is specifically intended for our own, personal well being and salvation. Like all virtues, there are many ways to describe prudence. I define it very simply, however, as the virtue by which God and heaven are foremost in our minds as the beginning and end of all things.

The virtue of prudence is surprisingly little discussed, but its benefits are, no doubt, equal to those of wisdom. A person who has the virtue of prudence will view sin as foolish and detestable. Why? Because the consequences of sin are so contrary to the greater good which one naturally desires for himself. Such a person will seek the things of God, knowing that only these bring true happiness and prosperity. He will be moved to do good works, knowing that in doing so he builds for himself a good house filled with treasures in heaven. To him, the reasoning in this is quite simple, and all other tactics to gain happiness are superficial and childish.

As the verse at the beginning of this post points out, wisdom and prudence dwell together. While one may have wisdom without prudence, or prudence without wisdom, he cannot perfect either virtue without first obtaining the other. Therefore we can deduce that the man with prudence is likely to come to wise conclusions. For instance, seeing that the saints have obtained the blessings of heaven, the man with prudence will follow their example. If he is wise, he will not remain long ignorant and soon look for love and virtue where it is to be found. He will drink abundantly of the waters of eternal life, hoping beyond hope that these waters will heal his wounds and purify his heart so that he may seek the Face of God in heaven. What are these waters? They are prayers, virtues, good works, sacraments, scriptures, spiritual reading, edifying conversation, etc. The more one immerses himself in these, the greater his chance of finding Christ and happiness.

A man with prudence will not seek the easy path. Rather, he will recognize that the most direct road to heaven is the difficult path of discipline and crosses. He will not try to make things easy for himself by indulging in his passions and bodily weaknesses, but carefully rein in his emotions and restrict the urges of the body which often override the will of the spirit. He will also seek to please God, and others, because he knows that this in particular brings God's mercy upon us. In obeying the commandments and counsels of God, he will also love God and his neighbor as much or more then himself... leading to a spirituality far deeper than what I have been describing up to this point.

This developed prudence feeds the ability for prayer and desire for holiness. In fact, prudence could be said to be a means by which we come closer to God in deeper love and faith. Once one has obtained prudence and sought grace, God begins to work in his heart and will do many wonderful things. But even after one has come to this deeper understanding of God, prudence continues to develop in him. To continually view all things with Christ in mind takes time, but once one obtains this grace he only continues to see God more and more around him.

My Jesus, You alone are my destination, You alone are my prize. All I seek, I seek for You, and my every action is carefully planned to bring me closer to You. I fear that my mind and soul could not resist the temptations, and remember You, if I should walk the easy path... only through the difficult path of discipline and suffering can I trust that my soul will be able to overcome my bodily weakness and many faults and fly to You. See my poor efforts, and help me along. I seek that which cannot be reached, but it fills my mind and drives me anxiously to acts which surely must bring it closer. Have pity on me in my weakness, and give me the greatness I desire, for You know I cannot achieve it on my own. Take me into your arms and bring me to Your house, for only there is found the longed for love and joy.

No comments:

Post a Comment