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Pope at Audience: Virtue of prudence leads us toward holiness

Jesus does not only want us to become saints, but “intelligent” ones, and exercising the virtue of prudence helps us become so.

Pope Francis made this point during his weekly General Audience on Wednesday morning in the Vatican.

At the start of Audience, the Holy Father explained he would have an assistant, Father Pierluigi Giroli from the Vatican Secretariat of State, read for him.

Cardinal virtue of prudence

This week, the Pope continued his catechetical series on vices and virtues. After a number of months dedicated to the vices, he transitioned last week to a discussion of virtue, and this week, he individuated the virtue of prudence.

Prudence, the Pope recalled, is one of the four cardinal virtues that, together with the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity, “are the pillars of integrated Christian living.”

Jesus often encouraged His disciples to exercise this virtue, Pope Francis highlighted, especially in His Parables.

Pope Francis at General Audience
Pope Francis at General Audience

Prudence, the Pope said, is “not the virtue of the timorous person, always hesitant about what action to take,” nor is it “merely caution.”

Rather, prudence, he clarified, “means that the action of man is in the hands of his intelligence and freedom.”

‘Right reason in action’

The virtue, said the Holy Father, effectively combines intelligence and creativity, helping us understand the complexity of situations and carefully evaluate possible solutions.

Suggesting it applies wisdom generated from past experiences while anticipating future needs, the Pope recalled that Doctor of the Church, Saint Thomas Aquinas, called prudence “right reason in action.”

“That is not to say they do not make mistakes,” the Holy Father acknowledged. “We are all human,” he added, “but at least they avoid major setbacks.”

Intelligent saints

The Holy Father illustrated passages of the Gospel that “help educate us” in prudence, including “the prudent man builds his house on the rock, and the imprudent builds his on sand,” in the Gospel reading according to St. Matthew.

“Preparing His disciples for the mission,” the Pope recalled, “Jesus recommends: ‘Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves’ (Mt 10:16).”

While suggesting that the Lord’s words are “as if to say, that God does not only want us to be saints, He wants us to be intelligent saints,” Pope Francis concluded by encouraging the faithful to practice prudence daily as we journey toward Heaven.

One can read Pope Francis’ full remarks at the General Audience on the Vatican website.

Pope Francis at General Audience
Pope Francis at General Audience

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