Prudence in Temporal Affairs

December 23, 2021 • 3 min

From The Sinner’s Guide, page 419
By Venerable Louis of Granada

Section X.

Prudence in Temporal Affairs.

The virtue of prudence is no less efficacious in the direction of temporal affairs. It preserves us from serious, and sometimes from irremediable, errors which not unfrequently destroy both our material and spiritual welfare. To escape this double misfortune here are the counsels which prudence suggests:

The first is that of the Wise Man, who says: “Let thy eyes look straight on, and let thy eyelids go before thy steps,” [Prov. iv. 25.] In other words, look at the enterprise you are about to undertake, and do not rashly enter upon it.

First recommend it to God; then weigh all its circumstances, and the consequences which are likely to follow from it; seek counsel of just minds concerning it; deliberate upon the advice you receive, and reflect upon your resolution before acting upon it.

In a word, beware of the four great enemies of prudence: precipitation, passion, obstinate persistence in our own opinions, and vanity. Precipitation admits no reasoning; passion blinds us; obstinacy turns a deaf ear to all counsel; and vanity ruins everything.

It also belongs to prudence to observe a just medium, in all things, for extremes are no less opposed to virtue than to truth.

Let not the faults of a few lead you to condemn the multitude, nor should the virtues of a few lead you to suppose that all are pious.

Follow the guidance of reason in all things, and do not allow yourself to be hurried to extremes by passion or prejudice. This latter failing is apt, moreover, to dispose us favorably towards what is old, and give us a dislike for what is new. Prudence guards us against this, for age can no more justify what is bad than novelty can condemn what is good. Let us esteem things not for their age, but for their merit. A vice of long standing is only more difficult to eradicate, and a virtue of recent growth has only the fault of being unknown.

Beware also of appearances. There are few who have not been taught by experience how deceptive these often are.

Finally, let us be thoroughly convinced that as reflection and gravity are the inseparable companions of prudence, so rashness and levity ever accompany folly.

Therefore, we must guard against these two faults at all times, but particularly in the following cases:

  • in believing everything that is reported, for this indicates levity of mind;

  • in making promises, in which we often bind ourselves beyond our means;

  • in giving, in which liberality often makes us forget justice;

  • in forming resolutions which from want of consideration often lead us into errors;

  • in conversation, in which so many faults may be committed;

  • and in temptations to anger, which shows the folly of man.

“He that is patient,” says Solomon, “is governed with much wisdom, but he that is impatient exalteth his folly.” [Prov. xiv. 29.]

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