charioteer of the virtues

Photo by Laura Gariglio on Unsplash

For the first time in the 21st century we can experience that we were not appreciating the health we had. Following the opinions, comments and the world of journalism (also Catholic) I come to the sad conclusion that there is less and less health in our thinking, as well. Even in matters of faith, doctrines and sacraments (not to mention the practice of Christian life), extreme attitudes come to the fore. Some offend others, accuse of bad intentions, sacrilege and heresy. We all became doctors, theologians and prophets. Therefore, we have a great question: how to find ourselves in a world in which common sense has been replaced by a narrative of our own feelings and beliefs?

In everyday life I try to avoid accusing someone of bad intentions. At the same time, I admit the fact that we might not be fully aware of all intentions in our views and conducts. However, apart from this Freudian introduction, I would like to point out that behind our behavior and view there should be a virtue that has already been respected and even worshiped by the ancients. I am talking about prudence.

Socrates would tell his disciples, “Whatever You Do, Do It Wisely and Consider the End.” In Christianity, Saint Francis gave a great interpretation of this concept. Thomas Aquinas, who encouraged to choose the right means on the way to a good goal. In the practice of Christian life, prudence manifests itself mainly in seeking rational and balanced restraint in the practice of other virtues. Not without reason prudence is called “the driver of virtues”. Where the incompetent practice of other virtues causes more harm than benefits, we must return to the cardinal virtue of prudence. If someone on the way to a good goal takes the wrong means, it has little to do with prudence. For example: if someone underestimates the epidemic threat and exposes himself and others to infection, it is not virtuous. On the other hand, if someone panics and buys 20 boxes of bananas just in case, it’s stupidity rather than foresight. In a healthy attitude, a prudent person learns from his own mistakes, is open to the wisdom of others, finally strives for healthy judgment of reality. We need prudent, balanced and enlightened people who will lead us out of the crisis thanks to the sound judgment.

Prudence seems especially needed in times like these. It avoids panic, gives in to prudent orders, listens to other people and rejects extreme attitudes. I know that the truth does not always lie in the middle, but prudent restraint did not hurt anyone, and often allowed oneself to be protected from many misfortunes. 

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Where does prayer come from? Whether prayer is expressed in words or gestures, it is the whole man who prays. But in naming the source of prayer, Scripture speaks sometimes of the soul or the spirit, but most often of the heart (more than a thousand times). According to Scripture, it is the heart that prays. If our heart is far from God, the words of prayer are in vain.

CCC 2559

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