Tuesday, May 4, 2010

What Does the Virtue of Prudence Mean?

Prudence is one of the four cardinal virtues, and it can make us cowards. Too much prudence and we do nothing, too little and we can act unwisely. We have no doubt thought it prudent not to speak out when it was necessary to speak out, and been proactive when probably working silently behind the scene would have been a wiser decision.

Korea has been a country where Christians are still not united on how to act and speak when there are injustices in society. Some feel that Christians should stay out of these matters and spend their time in prayer and doing good. Others feel it is part of our discipleship to be concerned with society and speak out against injustice. A columnist in the Korea Times this week brings the topic to our attention and makes it clear that Christianity cannot be separated from life.

From the time of the Japanese occupation, we have had religious leaders who were handmaids of the power elite, giving government solace. This also continued under the years of dictatorship in Korea when some supported and spoke for the government and used their religion to benefit themselves.

The writer stresses that when one sees injustices in society, it is the duty of the Christian to speak out and resist. If we do not, we are acting cowardly.

For Catholics, this advice to take an active role in society was made very clear from the pronouncements of Vatican II. And yet there are many Catholics who are not concerned about what is going on in society. For some, a Catholic is one who goes to Mass, prays and does good. The writer feels that one of the great weaknesses of religious people is insensitivity to what is going on in society. This is both a tragedy for society and an embarrassment to individual Catholics. We have eyes and do not see, and ears and do not here. With this attitude how can we be the light and salt that Christ wants us to be?

We can't separate religion from the religious person. Fortunately, Catholics are beginning to see this as a duty. Why else do we pray and why do we evangelize but to see this become a reality in our lives? The Church in Korea is making an effort to educate Catholics for our role in society. Looking up to heaven and asking God to get involved is not enough. We need to look around us here on earth and participate in the work that God gave us to do.

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