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Kempis on: Prudence in Action


1 Peter 2:19-21


Slaves, be subject to your masters with all reverence, not only to those who are good and equitable but also to those who are perverse. For whenever anyone bears the pain of unjust suffering because of consciousness of God, that is a grace. But what credit is there if you are patient when beaten for doing wrong? But if you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps. (my emphasis)


 

My friends, I have destroyed many relationships over the years. And when one mars a relationship, communication is virtually nonexistent. Without dialog, there was no clear cut path in repairing relationships. Impulsive? Guilty, Over react? Guilty. In one instance, although I was passionate and factually true, it was brutal and severed many ties. That is only one instance.


I write these little bits of transparency so you may see how my relationship with Jesus, and Imitation of Christ, has helped me grow in my faith.


Proverbs 13:3


Those who guard their mouths preserve themselves;those who open wide their lips bring ruin.


Prudence is one of the four Cardinal Virtues, illustrated in the image. This is a virtue I struggled with for much of my life. There are many antonyms (negligent, stupid, indiscreet, reckless) and I think I was each one at one time or another. (And that's only a few that came to mind. I'll bet I could grab a thesaurus and list more.)


Kempis


Do not yield to every impulse and suggestion but consider things carefully and patiently in the light of God's will. Sad to say, we are so weak that we believe and speak evil of others rather than good. Not to act rashly or to cling obstinately to one's opinion, not to believe everything people say or to spread abroad the gossip one has heard, is great wisdom. A good life makes a man wise according to God and gives him experience in many things, for the more humble he is and the more subject to God, the wiser and the more at peace he will be in all things. (my emphasis)

Patience is indeed a virtue. I recall a confession, that I mention often, where I told the priest, a wonderful man, about my pride in wanting to convert people. As admirable as I thought my conviction was, he told me something quite profound. "Jesus couldn't convert everyone, what makes you you think you can?" It was the '2x4 across the head' I needed. He enlightened me my pride was a subtle pride (Thomas Kempis refers to it as hidden pride). He recommended I pray for prudence along with my penance. Prudence infers wisdom.


I pray for wisdom not intellect. I have found peace with the way I handle conversations and confrontations in a Jesus-like way. Example: I once had a Catholic woman approach me and tell me she doesn't believe in purgatory. When I asked her why that was, she told me that Holy Scripture tells us we are saved by faith alone. (I wondered what denomination was whispering in her ear.) After a short discussion she suggested we should have coffee and discuss it, but it never happened. What I would have told her, simply to get her attention before I explained purgatory, as a baptized and educated Catholic adult, she has the stepping-stones to understand doctrine. Not accepting Catholic doctrine could be regarded as a mortal sin.


"I have been all things unholy; if God can work through me, He can work through anyone."

–St. Francis of Assisi


My chosen patron saint is St. Francis of Assisi. Each night, I pray, through his intercession, for humility. The following quote is a complete mis-quote of his, but it certainly makes sense. "Preach the gospel and, when necessary, use words." If all we did was live in a cell, like Brother Kempis at the monastery, then all we would have to worry about is our words. That's just not the case. So I adopted an attitude that "I wanted people to see the Jesus in me." If so, I had better be a follower of Christ and walk-the-walk.


As tough as I am with Catholics, I am in constant examination of conscience regarding charity and how to present myself. I mentioned in the previous paragraph where my goal is for people to see the Jesus in me. I would never suggest to be Jesus. He is infallible and I'm a sinner. But I consider I might be the only Jesus someone might ever meet. I must present Jesus Christ as our holy loving Savior. Anything else is unacceptable.


God Bless you


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