Choose a topic from Part 2B:

55. Carnal Prudence

1. Carnal prudence or prudence of the flesh issham prudence. It is not a virtue, but a vice which wears the maskof prudence. It is the vice of a person who regards fleshly goodsas the chief end of existence. It is a sin, for it is a fundamentaldisorder in a person, and one that is the person's ownfault.

2. To hold carnal goods as the complete end of existencewould be a mortal sin. But prudence of the flesh hardly ever goesto such extremes. Commonly, it is an inordinate estimate of theimportance andvalue of some particular carnal good, andstands opposed to some special kind or variety of prudence. Andusually it is a venial sin.

3. When a man uses trickery, or counterfeits honesty, whenworking for an end, he is guilty of craftiness. This is aspecial sin against prudence, distinct from carnal prudence butlike it in masking itself as true prudence. St. Gregory includescarnal prudence and craftiness under the title of worldlyprudence.

4. Craftiness is chiefly in the tricky mind of the craftyman; it is a quality of his plans and projects. But when plan orproject is carried out in fact, then it appears asguile.

5. Guile may take the form of words or deeds. When itappears in deeds, it has the special name of fraud.

6. We are divinely instructed to rely upon God, and not tobe overanxious about material things; we are not to beover-solicitous, for this is a kind of worldly prudence, and nottrue prudence. In St. Matthew (6:31) we read: "Be notsolicitous, therefore, saying what shall we eat, or what shall wedrink, or wherewith shall we be clothed?"

7. Nor are we to be over-anxious about the future, for weread (Matt. 6:34): "Be not therefore solicitous for tomorrow;for the morrow will be solicitous for itself."

8. Carnal prudence, craftiness, guile, and fraud are sinsof false prudence. And yet they are essentially contrary tojustice. Their source is the chief of sins againstjustice, that is, covetousness. Although these sins areimprudences, they are called the "daughters ofcovetousness."

"Spiritual persons ought to be equally ready to experience sweetness and consolation in the things of God, or to suffer and keep their ground in drynesses of spirit and devotion, and for as long as God pleases, without their making any complaint about it."
St Philip Neri

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"To do God's will -- this was the goal upon which the saints constantly fixed their gaze. They were fully persuaded that in this consists the entire perfection of the soul. "
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"The one thing necessary which Jesus spoke of to Martha and Mary consists in hearing the word of God and living by it."
R. Garrigou-Lagrange, OP

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