Are you organized and prepared for what’s to come? Although it’s not in everyone’s DNA, the Bible actually calls us to be giving careful thought to our future. Mary serves as our best example of prudence: an act or show of care and thought for the future. Of course, in the literal sense, we can always improve on spending and saving money wisely, keeping a clean and healthy home, and keeping our body's fit for the years to come. It’s easy to assume that the Church does not have much to say regarding how we plan our time beyond generally striving to live for Christ and loving our neighbor like each day is our last. But take a peek in the Catechism, and living a Catholic life is so much more. Let’s begin with our mentor, Mary, by reminding ourselves how she lived prudently as the Mother of Christ.
When the Shepherds came to visit baby Jesus, they were really excited to tell Mary and Joseph about the Heavenly Host they had witnessed on the way. Angels were not new to either Mary or Joseph, yet Luke takes care to write that, “Mary remembered all these things and thought deeply about them." (2:19) When her son was just itty bitty, our Holy Mother took a step back from the hustle and bustle to meditate and likely pray for the future of her family. Fast forward a few years and poor Mary thinks she lost her son! Once she and Joseph find Him in the temple she tells Jesus how worried they were about Him, so He went back to Nazareth and continued to be obedient to his parents. The verse following that story is probably an act every mother can relate to, “His mother treasured all these things in her heart” (2:51). Having a perfect Son, Mary must have had so, so much to treasure!
In the busyness of life, it is not easy to sit and find things to treasure especially if your kids are hysterical going back to school, your spouse’s work hours increased, and you just cannot find a moment. But in the moment where you “can’t even”, I challenge you flip it around, and make it that moment. The moment where you— as a wife, mother, friend, or daughter of God— pull something out of your holiness reserves, and treasure it in your heart. With pregnancy hormones and an active 9 month old, I have gotten in the habit of keeping an Our Lady Undoer of Knots bracelet in my pocket or diaper bag so that I have something tangible to grasp in my hands when I feel like I’m struggling to keep afloat.
While we look to Mary to be reminded of putting our hearts in the right place, the wisdom of the Church reminds us that in each thing we do, there is a right and prudent way to go about it:
“Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it; "the prudent man looks where he is going." "Keep sane and sober for your prayers." Prudence is "right reason in action," writes St. Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle.67 It is not to be confused with timidity or fear, nor with duplicity or dissimulation. It is called auriga virtutum (the charioteer of the virtues); it guides the other virtues by setting rule and measure. It is prudence that immediately guides the judgment of conscience. The prudent man determines and directs his conduct in accordance with this judgment. With the help of this virtue we apply moral principles to particular cases without error and overcome doubts about the good to achieve and the evil to avoid.” Catechism 1806
I had to read that paragraph at least three times before I could even form a thought. It’s some heavy stuff that the Church wants us to take seriously. Those of us who plan carefully for our future are not to be considered scared or frugal, but virtuous! Now I can tell people our family budget is Godly! But all kidding aside, I really do not believe the Lord wants us to fly by the seat of our pants. He wants us to have a vocation and a path that is unique to every one of us to follow. Of course, like anything, obsession over a particular plan or over money can become idolatrous and we definitely want to stay away from that! However, if you have no plans at all, and are not using money carefully, then carefully recall your most recent judgement calls… Were they applied with moral principles? The virtue of prudence reminds us that preparing for our Heavenly home also means making our earthly circumstances as joyful and Christ-filled as can be.
Challenge—Perfect for New Years! Pick three areas of your life that you can be more prudent in. Find yourself an accountability buddy to keep you on track!
Example Areas: Fitness, Prayer, Marriage, Parenting, Finances?