Prudence: Decisive Reality: Day 32
‘To be open to the truth of real things and to live by the truth that one has grasped is the essence of the moral being. Only when we recognize this state of things can we likewise understand the depths to which the unchaste heart permits destruction to invade its very being...
Prudence implies a transformation of the knowledge of truth into decision corresponding to reality.’ (The Four Cardinal Virtues, Josef Pieper, p. 162)
‘Prudence, then, is the mold and mother of all virtues, the circumspect and resolute shaping power of our minds which transforms knowledge of reality into realization of the good. It holds within itself the humility…of unbiased perception; the trueness-to-being of memory; the art of receiving counsel; alert, composed readiness for the unexpected. Prudence means the studied seriousness and, as it were, the filter of deliberation, and at the same time the brave boldness to make final decisions.’ (The Four Cardinal Virtues, Josef Pieper, p. 22)
As the first and foremost virtue, prudence demands that we grasp her thoroughly. She is wisdom, true, but much more. The prudent person is well-formed in grasping Reality--the truth of things. Life in all its diversity is objective, and not merely a whim of my unique lens, you know, the popular credo: “Well, that may be true for you…”
Prudence insists on the truth of things. One can run from Reality but it won’t hide. You must hide from it and suffer the consequence of decisions made in unreality. In other words, an objective truth prevails over the earth that I can dodge but not alter. Secondly, the prudent person will make unbiased decisions based on Reality. The prudent person comes to possess a well-honed lens through which (s)he perceives and interacts deftly with Reality. That may well mean prompt, nearly intuitive actions taken in a pinch, at unexpected, even perilous junctures. One tends to want to follow the prudent, as he or she is not inclined to lead others astray.
How imprudent our porn-wracked, contracepting, gender-bending culture is! We live in a fog of unreality concerning what it means to be human. Consider first porn--how most children lose their virginity to hardcore porn around 10-years-old, and many keep feeding the new monster anything that sparks its insatiable curiosity. After porn poisoning, we can never look at our own or another’s sexuality the same. Shame, lust, self-hatred, vanity, and disdain skew our lens; we imprudent ones see Reality through a glass darkly.
Perhaps we leap the screen to people, props in our porn play. Not whole people, mind you, mere fragments of people who attract us. Reality made us for communion; we the imprudent reduce people to sensual sensations. Our sexual-decision-making is a nightmare; pretending to ‘make love,’ we mutually masturbate with persons who charm us less and less. Contraception keeps Reality at bay--we close off the prospect of kids from our fantasy world. Divorcing sex from life deepens our delusion.
Why not ‘gay’ rights? If Joe and Jane can use the other to generate heat, not kids, why can’t Joe and Jim? For many today, same-gender options are just a new part of their sensual palate. They not only leapt the screen; they leapt genders as to spark strange new fire. The road to unreality goes down and down. We shrug when George seeks to reinvent himself altogether as ‘her’ or ‘them.’
We’ve now no authority to insist on the Reality of one’s human nature, made in God’s image. We are now so deluded we can barely behold the outline of Reality. We weakly assent to another’s unreality, even if it means abetting his descent into the slow suicide of butchering his body and stitching on false parts.
‘Please Jesus, in Your mercy, inspire good shame for our imprudence. We have blurred the boundaries til they broke, shattering our perceptions and capacity for clear decision-making. Only repentance and the Blood will do now. Help us to behold what is Real again and to establish ourselves on the truth of our corporate human nature. In the gap between Reality and our fractured sight, we welcome Your unfailing love into the mess we’ve made.’
‘Jesus, thank You that we are first and foremost citizens of Your Kingdom. Your saving purposes, the plans of Your heart, endure forever (Ps. 33:11). Patriotism and its partisan interests must bow before “Your will be done.” “The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, who hope in His unfailing love” (Ps. 33:18).’