I recently finished the book Prudence: Choose Confidently, Live Boldly by Father Gregory Pine O.P. The subtitle is what initially drew me to read this book. In a world with millions of possibilities, I want to make decisions with confidence and, even more so, I desire to live with bold courage.
When I first began reading, the virtue of prudence was an afterthought. Now, prudence—the cardinal virtue that “disposes the practical reason to discern, in every circumstance, our true good and to choose the right means for achieving it” (CCC 1835—is something I think about each day throughout the day. In order choose confidently and to live boldly, I need to cultivate the virtue of prudence.
This book is a must read (or at the very least, read this review about it). I learned an incredible amount and fell in love with the virtues. I could have underlined every sentence of this book, yet one thing in particular stood out for me. I continue to apply it in my life since reading it, namely: the importance of memory in making prudent decisions.
The Importance of Memory
Quoting Saint Thomas Aquinas, Father Gregory explains that there are eight “perfections” of prudence, eight integral parts that work together in making a prudent action.
Most of us just focus on the perfection of caution when we think of prudence, but this aspect is only one part of the beauty that makes up this virtue. The perfection that really has transformed my life is memory. Using the gift of our memory helps us make prudent decisions.
The Gift of Our Past
So often we focus on the present moment. This is incredibly important because God is in the present moment, the time for grace is now! However, memory is also a gift from God. It helps us make bold, virtuous decisions.
Father Gregory writes:
Memory recalls experiences of the past. In matters of prudence, experience goes a long way… the prudent person weighs his or her experience of the past and uses that memory to account best for present circumstances... While it may be helpful for the prudent person to have a vast memory, it’s more important that he or she have a profound memory.
Cultivating a Truthful Memory
An important facet to creating a profound memory is cultivating a truthful memory. To do this, we need to ask God to purify our memories. It is tempting (especially with painful memories, moments we are embarrassed about, or past experiences that we just want to forget) to redefine history or change our memory of what actually happened so we are the hero. This is incredibly detrimental and can hinder our faith, and it can hinder our future.
A pure memory helps us make decisions because we can reflect on our memory and use the lessons we learned from the past and make a virtuous decision boldly.
Four Ways to Purify Our Memories
Here are four ways that Father Gregory Pine instructs us on how to cultivate a true, pure, profound memory:
- Retain memory (so it doesn’t slip away) by frequent recalling or journaling. (I need to do this!)
- Organize memory. (If you have any ideas for this one, please share in the comments below!)
- Return to it often because God is teaching us through our memory.
Here is a little prayer we can offer:
Lord, please help purity my past, and help me to remember things as they truly happened so that I may learn and make virtuous and prudent decisions so as to glorify You!
Do you cultivate a profound memory or do you try to push your past away? What are some ways to cultivate a profound memory? Please share below!