It Is Time to Reclaim the Cardinal Virtue of Prudence

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Most of modern society upholds justice and fortitude, while temperance and prudence have been swallowed up in relativism. We as Christians also focus a great deal on the needs for justice and courage, but largely ignore the necessity of prudence in forming our actions. It is time to recapture this cardinal virtue in our spiritual lives because it is essential in order for all of us to progress in holiness.

The crux of Pieper’s thesis—which is heavily influenced by Thomistic thought— is that for an action to be good, it must be prudent. If we do not rightly discern the prudent or right course of action—even for a perceived good—then the action loses some or all of its goodness. This is because “prudence is the measure of justice, fortitude, of temperance.” It purifies our intentions and impulses through the use of reason.

Without this purification through prudence, it is impossible to be just, temperate, or courageous because our actions end up being marred by the passions, instinct, or other impulses. Prudence helps us maintain objectivity. It is through prudence that we come to see what is true and good and then act rightly.

The Christian tradition also holds that this virtue is informed by the supernatural virtues of faith, hope, and charity. Our actions must be united to God’s will and our call to love others and God above all else. Through prudence, we act in union with charity and truth, so that we can then seek justice, fortitude, and temperance.

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It Is Time to Reclaim the Cardinal Virtue of Prudence

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