Charity is the ultimate prudence. Prudence is that virtue which keeps the other virtues in line, in sound proportion to one another. Prudence is that virtue which enables the Faithful to deal with their own neurotic tendencies in a rational manner. Prudence is also that virtue which enables a recovering sinner to repent.
With the neurotic tendencies mentioned above in mind,
Although the Gentiles say that prudence is a virtue, and define it as, the practical understanding of what is good, bad, or indifferent, the discernment of what we ought to do and not do, we should consider whether this description has one meaning or many. For we are told that the Lord established the heavens by prudence (Prov. iii. 19). And it is evident that because the Lord established the heavens by it that prudence is good. But we are also told in Genesis (iii. I), according to the Septuagint, that the serpent was the most subtle of all the beasts of the earth (serpens prudentissimus erat), where prudence is not spoken of as a virtue but as craftiness, inclining its possessor towards evil. And so He [Jesus] perhaps used the word commended, not in the true sense of commendation, but used it in a lower sense; as when we say someone is to be commended in trivial and indifferent matters, or as a clash of wits or sharpness of understanding meets with approval because of the mental vigor displayed.
Moving on to the Second Reading, bishops, as explained
in 1 Timothy 16:1 being trustworthy, are, thereby, to be prudent. The problem with the current sex scandal is
that the hierarchy mistook prudence concerning things of this life for prudence
concerning things of the next life. The
hierarchy was rightly concerned about scandal to the Faithful, but mistook the
Faithful for “children of this world.” The
Faithful are properly understood as “the children of light” (
In Luke 16:8, “For the children of this world are more prudent …” the Greek has sons meaning children. This type of difference between the Greek and the English is a source useful for finding unexplored meanings in Sacred Scripture. Prudently understanding differences, helps understand meanings. These Notes seek the meaning of prudence in the different translations.
Those reading these Notes over any length of time have observed my frustration and confusion with the translations from the ancient Greek to the medieval Latin into the various renditions of English from the Seventeenth Century to the present. Trying to see if I am using the most reliable translations insofar as the liturgy is concerned, I spoke with The Liturgical Press to see if they had anything more up-to-date to sell. The Liturgical Press did not. On August 23, the Monday before I prepared these Notes. I had an additional telephonic interview from my home with Mary Sperry at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Mary Sperry seemed defensive as she grappled with my
concerns over 1 Corinthians 15:21, used in the Sunday, August 15th
feast of the Assumption. The Lectionary
has “For since death came through man” whereas the New American Bible
Expressly, without discussing the merits of the
Vatican-approved Lectionary translation,
Mary Sperry then directed me to http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccdds/documents/rc_con_ccdds_doc_20...
[the open spaces hide “_”s] to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the
Discipline of the Sacraments: Fifth Instruction “For the Right Implementation
of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council” (
The Greek in
The point of it all is that just as Origin writes that God established the heavens by prudence, so prudence is an appropriate measure for whatever else humans may establish. Prudence is appropriate for translating the Holy Word of God. Beyond translation, the following readings distinguish between prudence about things of this life and prudence about things of the next life.
This reading is about mistaking prudence concerning things of this life for prudence concerning things of the next life. Verse 8, “The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Never will I forget a thing [meaning rob the poor] they have done!” Since 1990, Liberation Theology extended the Book of Amos to include African-American and “Two-Thirds World” perspectives. Amos relates to the fifth beatitude, Matthew 5:3, concerning the poor in spirit. The meaning is a prudential “reversal of unfortunate conditions rather than a reward.” Prudence is about justice and love. Charity is the ultimate prudence.
Psalm 113: 1-2, 4-6, 7-8 (cf. 1a, 7b)
The problem is that prudence for things of this life neglects and abuses the poor. God, on the other hand, “raises up the lowly from the dust … to seat them with the princes of his own people” (verse 8). The term, princes of the Church, generally refers to the Cardinals. The poor, then, are destined to sit with the ermine cloaked Cardinals. This is the only place the Lectionary affords this psalm.
Psalm 113 sings of a reversal of status that
Since no one was present at the prayer of
This reading mentions proper
time (verse 6) as the prudential circumstance for
Cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9
This reading brings the anomaly of a rich
This reading is about the prudent steward looking out for
his life. This parable is directed at “the money-loving Pharisees who sneered
at him” (
Verse four, welcome me into their homes, homes, can “include both a family and the building in which the family lives.” From the options for translating verse 4, the Faithful can understand that interchanging the translation of Luke 16:8 between children and sons is legitimate. Evidently, the Magisterium regards the difference and inconsistency as prudent as well.
In the Greek for verse 6, one hundred measures of olive oil, measure is about ten
These Notes focus on prudence, rather than the traditional charity, as related to the reversal of fortunes described in Sacred Scripture. Amos prophecies that God will avenge the abused poor. Psalm 113 praises the Lord, who lifts up the poor. Timothy 2:3 proclaims “God our savior … wills that everyone … be saved.” Everyone prudently requires a reversal of fortunes for some. Finally, Jesus commends prudence in the unjust steward. In line with the traditional interpretation, charity is the ultimate prudence.
For more on sources see the Appendix file.
Origin (or Geometer, in Catena GP) in “Exposition from the
Catena Aurea,” in The
Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers: Volume Three: From Pentecost to the Tenth
Sunday after Pentecost, tr. and ed.
 Maximilian Zerwick, S.J., English Edition adapted from the Fourth Latin Edition by Joseph Smith, S.J., Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblico—114—Biblical Greek (Roma: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1994) 15.
 Mark Allan Powell, “Matthew’s Beatitudes: Reversals and Rewards of the Kingdom," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 58, No. 3 (July 1996) 463.
 The first quotation is from an unpublished paper by A. C. Thiselton cited by Richard Bauckham, Gospel Women: Studies of the Named Women in the Gospels (Grand Rapids, Michigan/ Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002) footnote 41, page 63. The second quotation is by Bauckham in the same footnote.
Mark Kiley, “`Lord, Save my Life’ (Psalm 116:4) as Generative Text for Jesus’
 Barbara E. Reid, O.P., “Violent Endings in Matthew’s Parables and Christian Nonviolence," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 66, No. 2 (April 2004) 240.
 F. Gerald Downing, “In Quest of First-Century C.E. Galilee," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 66, No. 1 (January 2004) 94.