We hear in our first reading today from the book of Wisdom: “I prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. I preferred her to scepter and throne, and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her.”
A lot of times, people reach out to me and asking what they should do in a specific situation. And in so many of those instances I have to say “I don’t know. You are the only one, in conversation with God, who will know what the best decision is.”
The Catholic Church is thought of as telling everyone how to act in every situation, and that just is not the case. Of course on every topic that seems to dominate our national conversation at the moment, the Church does have very black and white answers: it is never okay to kill a child in the womb, sexual activity is only proper in a marriage, marriage is only between one man and one woman, contraception is never justified, there are only 2 sexes, it is never good to look at pornography… and so the Church, in saying these eternal truths, is viewed from both the outside (and sometimes the inside) as being dictatorial.
But the vast majority of the thousands of decisions we make each day do NOT involve any of the above, and so the Church encourages us to use prudence. And prudence is the ability to discern the best path forward in a situation.
It was even acknowledged as a virtue in pre-christian civilizations such as the Greeks. Obviously, through Christ, all the virtues take on an even greater depth and prudence is considered to be the charioteer of all the other virtues.
It has the power to help us decide among not just good and evil, but also when we have lots of good things we could do, it helps us choose the best of all the good options.
Again, most of the thousands of decisions we make each day do NOT involve any objectively evil options.
In all of our decisions, big and small, may we act with prudence, using our past experiences and the Church’s teachings as a guide, to become a better decision maker each day.
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