How to Cultivate the Virtue of Prudence

As we begin on Sunday entering into the 4th week of Lent, dare I ask…

How’s your lent going?

If it’s been anything like mine, a constant roller coaster ride…thrilling one minute, sick to my stomach the next.

Ok..that might be a little melodramatic but I’ve quickly determined that fasting is much harder then it has been normally. Maybe it’s because I’ve learned during this Lent, how I do everything possible to avoid any type of suffering….any type of suffering including hunger. What a wimp I’ve become…spiritually, mentally and physically.

All I need to do is look at the world to see my own reflection. America is the greatest country in the world. Most of us have all the comforts credit cards can buy. We over-spend, over-eat, over-indulge every whim and fancy we’re drawing too on TV, social media, the internet or out in the world to the detriment of our spiritual, mental and physical life.

Let’s face it…most of us are so comfortable being comfortable that the least inconvenience or discomfort causes chaos in our life. Most of us living in this century would not have been able to survive in the stark conditions of the 19th century…which wasn’t all that long ago.

So why am I surprised with my sudden shriek of despair at the mildest pang of hungry? This wimpiness led me to pull out a book from my library, dust it off and crack it open. Here it is…

Yes, it’s the Catechism of the Catholic Church. When was the last time you dedicated some time to reacquaint yourself with Catholic teaching? Believe me…I’m not pointing fingers at you because I bought this book in 2008 and never read it. It sat on my library shelf for 11 years untouched. Sad.

The first category I dived into was on prayer…which led me to contemplate about virtues. So my inspiration for this blog post came about on the subject of virtue. Specifically starting with the virtue of Prudence. St. Thomas Aquinas defines it as

Right Reason in Action

When was the last time you’ve heard any preaching around virtues?

Virtues are rarely talked about these days, after all, we wouldn’t want to make the faithful “feel” uncomfortable!

Yet, all of our habits and decisions pivot around either virtues or vices!

St. Thomas Aquinas assigns prudence as a cardinal virtue. The word cardinal derives from the Latin cardo, meaning “hinge.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church under #1806 states

Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it.

The corresponding vice is Pride, poverty of spirit. If you struggle with Pride, focus on cultivating Prudence. Instead of trying to eradicate pride or any vice, put your focus on the corresponding virtue to focus on and cultivate. The growth of the specific virtue will root out the corresponding vice.

Most people have this backward. They’ll focus on not sinning, which places the emphasis on self. By focusing on living a virtuous life, the emphasis is placed on your life reflecting the love you have for God and your neighbor.


There is such a thing as hidden pride. This occurs when the motivation is for self, not for God.

Here’s an example. Let’s say a friend said something that offends you. Instead of talking to your friend about the offense, you instead distance yourself from the friendship.  You might think..

how dare she say that! Doesn’t she know what she said hurt my feelings?

So you cool the relationship because, in your pride, they should know better! You do this because you like being honored….a result of hidden pride. Thus the focus is on you instead of bringing the issue to your friend and giving her a chance to know about your wound so she can do the right thing and make reparation. That is called charity, which is of God.

Ponder Prudence and see if this is a virtue that needs cultivating for your eternal life plan!

The next virtue is on Justice! Talk to you soon and God Bless! I’d love to hear your Lenten stories in the comments below.

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