Sins Against the Virtue of Prudence by Archbishop Marcel
The three acts of the Virtue of Prudence are:
Deliberation (weighing different alternatives), Judgment
(arriving at a decision), and Commanding (putting one's
decision into action).
There are sins opposed to each of these acts:
Against Deliberation: Hastiness, obstinacy.
Against Judgment: Thoughtlessness.
Against Commanding (which is the chief act of
prudence): Inconstancy, negligence.
1. Hastiness, obstinacy
"The way of the wicked is darksome: they know not where
(Prov. 4:19). This is the problem of acting on impulse.
One rushes headlong into a course of action, without
passing through the intermediary steps needed for a good
decision, e.g. past experience, knowledge of present
circumstances, looking ahead, asking advice, respecting
the views of elders.
One has the right principles but fails to draw the right
conclusions. This occurs through contempt or neglect of
those things on which a right judgment depends (Summa
Theologiae II-II, q. 53-4).
A case in point is the judgment of Solomon's son Roboam
after his father's death (3 Kings 12), leading to the
division and ultimate
collapse of the Kingdom of Israel. Roboam let himself be
swayed by conniving self-seekers. As a result of his
decision, he sent all the wrong messages, lost the
confidence of his subjects, and made a mockery of Divine
One has made the right decision, but fails to act on it.
One has adopted a good resolution, but fails to carry it
out. Inconstancy is failing to put thoughts into action.
"Everyone that hears these my words and doth them not,
shall be like a foolish man" (Matt.
7). The sustained habit of lust is the main cause of
sins against prudence. Inconstancy is related to
negligence, which is the mistake of not following up on
things decided, or failing to keep track of them.
Negligence differs slightly from inconstancy. The
wavering man is easily sidetracked and abandons his
resolution, whereas the negligent man is slow to carry
out his decision.