Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

Second Sunday of Lent: Awakened to see Reality

Painted by Raphael (1516-1520) and resides in Pinacoteca Vaticana, Vatican City

Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory…(Luke 9:32)

Archbishop Fulton Sheen reflecting on this Gospel passage from the Transfiguration – proclaimed to us today, once asked, “How does one pour divinity into a clay and not see it shine through?”  Did our Lord conceal His divinity?  Were our eyes and hearts too callous to see His glory?  Had we grown so weary and tired in the day-to-day grind of our lives that our sensitivity to the divine just fell asleep?  The gospel doesn’t say but what we do know is that suddenly, reality flashed and revealed itself.  This quickening of their hearts allowed Peter, James and John to see the Glory of the Lord.

It would seem this Gospel could inspire us to explore and understand the importance and necessity of Prudence.  Josef Pieper writes at the very outset in Chapter 1 of The Four Cardinal Virtues, that “NO DICTUM in traditional Christian doctrine strikes such a note of strangeness to the ears of contemporaries, even contemporary Christians, as this one: that the virtue of prudence is the mold and ‘mother’ of all the other cardinal virtues, of justice, fortitude, and temperance.  In other words, none but the prudent man can be just, brave, and temperate, and the good man is good in so far as he is prudent.”

If this virtue is so important, what is it?  The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) in paragraph 1801 states,

“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 going.”65 “Keep sane and sober for your prayers.”66 Prudence is “right reason in action,” writes St. Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle.67 It is not to be confused with timidity or fear, nor with duplicity or dissimulation. It is called auriga virtutum (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. The prudent man determines and directs his conduct in accordance with this judgment. With the help of this virtue we apply moral principles to particular cases without error and overcome doubts about the good to achieve and the evil to avoid.”

To summarize, prudence awakens our minds to see reality and then act.  During an age of masquerades and apparent truths, this virtue is needed more than ever.  We only need to consider how the womb has become a tomb. The very place meant to be a wellspring of life, a hedge of safety, and a state of communion has now become Auschwitz, a row of execution, and an imposed solitary confinement.

What are the dangers related to the Virtue of Prudence?  The Vices that oppose this virtue includes:

  • Imprudence (imprudentia)
  • Negligence (negligentia)

The value of the Virtue of Prudence cannot be underestimated.  Without the ability to see reality our intellect cannot properly inform the will to choose the good.  Without the ability to see reality the intellect cannot perceive that which is true.  Without the ability to see reality the intellect cannot assist the senses experience the beautiful.  The Virtue of Prudence vivified by charity brings life out of analogue black and white and into an HD world – we are truly alive.

How do we allow the Lord to awaken us to reality and strengthen the virtue of prudence?  We first need to cultivate a life of prayer and trust in the Magisterium of the Church.  Only then can we commit ourselves to the discipline of study and like Mary, sit at the feet of the Lord.

Lord, may our Lenten practices awaken us to see your glory as you reveal it in Paschal Mystery.

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