Prudence: Counsel, Judgment, and Action

On August 30, Timmerie of Trending with Timmerie kicked off her Cardinal Virtue Series in which she would be deep-diving into each of the four virtues over the next four weeks. The first one she addressed was Prudence.

“Virtues, especially the gifts and the fruits of the Holy Spirit, are to act and think with the instincts of God.” Essentially, virtues are morally strengthening and positively-oriented habits. If you are close to God, it will come more naturally to live these virtues. And the more you live them, the closer you become to God. Prudence, according to Thomas Aquinas, is a firm and practical judgment of what one should seek and what one should avoid.

Timmerie contrasted this view with the way younger generations approach decision-making. Instead of approaching it with commitment, today’s youth tends to leave everything up in the air. They don’t commit to making plans whether that be for their future, their relationships, or their weekend plans. They have a fear of commitment because there might be a better option that they don’t yet know about. “And at the heart of this trend is a lack of the virtue of prudence, knowing what to seek and what to avoid. It’s true. The common attitude instead of prudence is, ‘The grass is always greener on the other side,’ as Patrick our producer just commented.”

Timmerie’s main point about decision-making is that we cannot be afraid to commit to making a decision that would be good for us. Prudential decision-making requires foresight, perspective, context, comparison, and good intentions. It requires that, yes, we consider the outcomes when making choices, but also that we make a choice.

Prudence could be referred to as the director of the cardinal virtues because it informs the other three: justice, fortitude, and temperance. All three hinge on the idea that we are making good judgments and decisions to seek what is good. That idea of foresight will allow us to welcome help on one’s journey and avoid hindrances that would slow or stop it. One help that often proves invaluable in decision-making is the encounter with those who offer counsel and advice. It is often beneficial when deciding on something to take counsel from people who may have dealt with your situation before, family members, or knowledgeable advisors. And of course, every important decision should be brought before Our Lord, the omniscient counselor.

Once we have received counsel, prayed about our decisions, and oriented ourselves to a good goal, it is our duty to command ourselves forward. We cannot dawdle, waiting around for our decision to be made for us. Seeking counsel as a means to procrastinate is useless and a return to indecision. Prudence is a process, but an efficient one. We should deliberate, seek help and advice, and then act.

If so many adults, old and young, are struggling with this virtue every day, how do we set the right example in teaching it to children? Converting Aquinas’ formula of counsel, judgment, and action to a more simplistic process, the first step is to stop and think. Secondly, we should show them how to ensure that feelings are not the determining factor in our decision-making. They can be part of a decision, but not the determining factor. Thirdly, we should teach children to consult God in their decisions and petitions. And lastly, we should teach our children to learn from the example of role models.

Timmerie left us all with some homework to ponder while we attempt to grow in prudence:

  1. Do I know how to see my current situation with foresight? Can I anticipate the consequences of my actions? Do I act rashly and struggle to see the bigger picture? Do I seek counsel in big decisions? Am I able to make big decisions when necessary?
  2. Do I think about my choices and the execution of the decisions I’ve made? Am I making prudential decisions? Am I prudentially working through my situations and the temptations they present?
  3. Things we should consider when considering our decision-making process in everyday life:

In terms of my financial decisions:

  1. Do I have a budget for my expenses?
  2. Do I have a goal that I’m working toward?
  3. Do I have accountability for these budgets and goals?
  4. Do I regularly reevaluate my financial situation?

In regards to health:

  1. What are my challenges when it comes to my health?
  2. How am I addressing them?
  3. What encouragement or resources do I need to address them?
  4. How am I reevaluating myself and my health? Is it helpful?

In regards to heart:

  1. What is my state in life (single, married, dating, etc.)?
  2. Where do I hope to be with this? How do I handle relationships and chastity? What is getting in the way?
  3. How can I grow in charity?
John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at and on the Relevant Radio® app.