This is because the moral agent finds in it, if not the eliciting, at any rate the directive principle of virtuous actions. If these are to be done well they necessarily exclude remissness and lack of concern; they demand the use of such diligence and care that the resultant act can be described as prudent, in spite of whatever speculative error may have been at the bottom of the process.
It must preside over the eliciting of all acts proper to any one of them at least if they be taken in their formal sense.
Thus, without prudence bravery becomes foolhardiness; mercy sinks into weakness, and temperance into fanaticism.
It is to be observed that prudence, whilst possessing in some sort an empire over all the moral virtues, itself aims to perfect not the will but the intellect in its practical decisions.
Its function is to point out which course of action is to be taken in any round of concrete circumstances.
Its scope of course is to make provision of what is necessary for eternal salvation.
Although acquired prudence considered as a principle of operation is quite compatible with sin in the agent, still it is well to note that vice obscures or at times utterly beclouds its judgment.
But one of the running temptations we encounter in this world is the temptation of coming up with makeshift forms of holiness.
We we know what God wants, and we bustle around to come up with some form of that on our own.
It indicates which, here and now, is the golden mean wherein the essence of all virtue lies.
It has nothing to do with directly willing the good it discerns.
If it proceeds to the length of formal scorn of the Divine utterances on the point, it will be a mortal sin. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online.