Monday, December 14, 2015

Prudence: Charioteer of the Virtues

Natural religions placed great  importance on the  place of virtue. From Taoism, Buddhism and finally Confucianism, we see how grace builds on nature. Catholicism's stress on virtues was not foreign to the thinking of the sages who began to look into the new thinking that came from China. This similarity in a virtuous life with which they were familiar, made Catholicism in Korea, easy to accept.

In the spirituality column of the Peace Weekly we are told that the first of the natural virtues is prudence. Before Christ, in China and the Greek world we had the wise and philosophers teaching the need for virtue in search for the good life. They discovered that these required repetition. In Confucianism we have benevolence, propriety, fidelity, wisdom, and righteousness. We find lists of these virtues both in the Old and New Testaments.

In the book of Wisdom: "Or if one loves justice, the fruits of her works are virtues; for she teaches moderation and prudence, justice and fortitude, and nothing in life is more useful for men than these" (8:7).

Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers, fill your minds with everything that is true everything that is noble, everything that is good and pure, everything that we love and honor, and everything that can be thought virtuous or worthy of praise."

One difference for a Christian when we speak about the natural virtues is we understand God's grace can enter to make our acceptance more complete but it begins in the natural and our efforts are required. Cardinal Virtues are Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance. All the other moral virtues hinge on these four and consequently are called cardinal.  They  can be infused with the grace of God but they begin in the natural.

"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 prudent man looks where he is gong.... It is called the charioteer of the virtues; it guides the other virtues by setting rule and measure. It is prudence that immediately guides the judgment of conscience" Catechism of the Church #1806.

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