Dear Prudence . . .
"You justify yourselves in the sight of others,
but God knows your hearts; for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God." ~ Luke 16:15
The seemingly lost art of prudence takes center stage in today’s Gospel (Luke 16:9-15), wherein the avaricious Pharisees are reminded that, among other things, God not only knows and understands what’s truly important, He also knows what’s truly important to each and every one of us. Not only can God read our hearts, he resides in each of our hearts.
In the eyes of the secular world, prudence is the red-headed step child of virtues. The mere structure and sound of the word is a non-starter for many. After all, in today’s hypersexualized culture, any word that begins with “prude” will certainly to be scoffed at and ultimately tossed aside as being puritanical and impractical. Those deemed to be prudes in today’s society fall somewhere between individuals who do not believe in global warming and those who hate puppies on the popularity index. Can the average teenager even define what prudence means?
In his Daily Gospel Reflection, Bishop Barron simply defines prudence as the ability to do the right thing in a particular situation. Simple in definition yes....but now let’s talk about execution. The Bishop goes on to liken prudence as the feel a quarterback has for the playing field, or a politician for the voters in his district. He points out that courage, justice, and temperance are wonderful virtues, but without prudence they are in fact blind. Useless even. A person for instance can be inordinately courageous, but if he doesn’t know when, where, and how to manifest his courage, that virtue is of no use.
Saint Leo the Great, whose Feast Day we celebrate today, was a man who exercised prudence during his 21 years as Pope. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI went so far as to say that “Leo’s Papacy was undoubtedly one of the most important in the history of the church.” Whether it was his ability to dissuade Atilla the Hun from sacking Rome or his many writings and sermons, still in circulation and very relevant today, he perfected this divine gift and in doing so, made himself the right Pope at the right time. Thanks be to God.
Prudence can be obtained through the Sacraments, through prayer and of course through the celebration of the Mass, but it is perhaps in the quiet and intimate moments of Eucharistic Adoration that we can reflect upon this divine grace while leveraging the wisdom we receive from the Holy Spirit. This will allow the gifts of the spirit to collide perfectly with our “divine instincts,” which we must look to sharpen each and every day. For prudence is, in many respects, both foresight and far-sightedness. May we always be blessed with the spiritual instincts to make immediate decisions on the basis of their longer-range effects all in accordance with God’s will.
“Dear Lord, give us the gift of prudence. Hone our spiritual instincts so that we can better serve you and our neighbor, understanding how to allow the gifts of the Holy Spirit to emanate from us in the proper measure at precisely the right time” ~ Amen