Saint Thomas Aquinas has a genius for analysis, certainly, and analysis often brings to light something of which we were already dimly aware so that we become more conscious of it, and say to ourselves, ‘Yes, that is what I have always thought.’
Someone once asked me, however, if Saint Thomas meant us to have a checklist with boxes to tick each time a big decision was needed in life. And if not, how do we make use of the insights we’ve just been considering? My advice is that, like many things that apply to the inner life, these parts of prudence overlap. Growth in one area will mean that growth in the virtue as a whole. We might consider the list and see, for example, that we have a hard time with one or two aspects of prudence. With Thomas’s insight, we can apply ourselves to these aspects and undertake to make some progress in them. Or, we might find that we were already striving in this direction, but were coming under criticism from others, whose lack of prudence was making them impatient with our tendency to approach matters from the perspective outlined here.
Now, perhaps we can proceed with more confidence in
‘discerning rightly that which helps from that which hinders in our journey toward God.’
Many thanks to Sister Johanna for this series of reflections on Prudence. I think I’ll go back and consider them all together, now I’ve read them one by one. Will T.
Photo: Missionaries of Africa