Sr. Louise Zdunich

June 11, 2012

QuestionI read an article that when we find attractiveness in others, we should recognize and appreciate their attributes as gifts of God. I find the wife of one of our friend couples attractive in that we share professional occupations, similar backgrounds and dispositions but also physically.

Although we had recognized the couple as a "good match" for us, my wife wants us to break off any relationship with them. I have agreed but I dislike this position from both the social and spiritual perspectives. I love my wife and in every way plan to live out my promise of fidelity to her.


AnswerAs I reflected on your situation, two words kept coming to mind. These are prudence and presumption. Before I go into the specifics of your concern, I would like to reflect on these two aspects of any decision.

St. Thomas Aquinas ranked prudence as the first of the cardinal virtues because it is the work of the intellect. It is followed by justice, fortitude and temperance.


"Cardinal" comes from Latin cardo which means hinge as the cardinal virtues are the hinge for all other virtues. They can be practised and acquired by anyone and are the basis of natural morality.

They differ from the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity which are gifts of God and cannot be acquired by natural means but can be deepened and developed with God's grace.

Cardinal virtues are the result of habit and can grow through grace and have a supernatural dimension also. Through the practice of these virtues, one gains self-mastery over weak human nature which helps forge a strong Christian character.

Aristotle defined prudence as "right reason applied to practice." Prudence is an intellectual virtue. It enables distinguishing right from wrong, judging what is good and what is evil. To examine a situation and to exercise prudence, one must relate to three aspects of prudence: memory, docility and sagacity.

The first is look objectively at the concrete situation and deeply into one's heart to find one's inner reaction to the situation. Here, memory will alert us to know what turned out well and what did not in our own or others' past experience.


One practises docility by seeking and being open to the wisdom of the Church and those competent or more experienced judges of morality. One carefully examines what the Church says of similar situations both in its written statements and its verbal assessments.

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