February Virtue: Prudence Making good decisions in specific circumstances
It is usually easy to know the difference between right and wrong...but what happens when you need to choose between two things that are right? What if you have to decide whether to donate money to a homeless shelter or to a soup kitchen? What if your family has a trip planned, but a friend really needs you? The virtue of prudence helps us to discern God's will in specific circumstances and to make the best decision. For example, your father and mother might be proud of you if you sacrificed the fun of a family trip to stay home with a friend who had been seriously injured. On the other hand, if you recently had a fight with your parents and your friend was already recovering, it might be more important to go on the trip and strengthen your relationship with your parents.
Prudence is one of the four cardinal virtues because it is a key to other virtues. Something might sound like a good choice, but it is only virtuous if it is prudent, that is, if it is the most reasonable choice, given the circumstances. Prudence guides our conscience. Although there are many situations in which we need this virtue, some decisions that call for prudence include the following:
1. Choosing between two goods;
2. Knowing the right time and way to talk to someone about a problem;
3. Creating new policies to address new situations and needs.
Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation, Nashville, TN