As our week reflection on the #SmartFreedom Virtues draws to a close, we take a look at the one that should really come first: PRUDENCE. Often oversimplified as a synonym for "common sense", the virtue of prudence truly dictates our behavior and opens the door for the rest of the virtues to be cultivated!
P.S. Here's the Checklist again in case the challenges are getting difficult to remember: #SmartFreedom Challenge Checklist:
No phone while driving (See Day Two).
No phone during meals (whether alone or with others) (See Day Three).
No phone in the bathroom (See Day Four).
No phone for your morning alarm clock (See Day Five).
Complete phonexamination of conscience (See Day Six).
Be Phone Free 1 Hour before bed UNTIL 1 Hour after waking (See Day Seven).
No phone in the presence of other humans (See Day Eight).
#SmartFreedom Rosary (See Day Nine).
After #SmartFreedom Reflection (See Day Ten).
4 Hour Fast (See Day Eleven).
Have a tough conversation (See Day Twelve).
Seek Justice (See Day Thirteen).
VIRTUE OF THE DAY: Prudence
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the virtue of prudence like this:
CCC 1806 Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it; "the prudent man looks where he is going." "Keep sane and sober for your prayers." Prudence is "right reason in action," writes St. Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle. It is not to be confused with timidity or fear, nor with duplicity or dissimulation. It is called auriga virtutum (the charioteer of the virtues); it guides the other virtues by setting rule and measure. It is prudence that immediately guides the judgment of conscience. The prudent man determines and directs his conduct in accordance with this judgment. With the help of this virtue we apply moral principles to particular cases without error and overcome doubts about the good to achieve and the evil to avoid.
"Right reason in action"?? That sounds like something I need to google from my Smartphone. What the heck is "prudence" and what does it have to do with our phone habits? Let's break down the first sentence in this definition, one phrase at at time:
disposes practical reason
Prudence helps us get our minds right. And in one more week, we will need all of the help we can get!
to discern our true good
Get our minds right to truly discern. Discern is not just a fancy word for decide. It carries a weight with it... a weight of prayerful consideration. It takes patience and thought. It takes humility to ask the Lord for clarity--for help! What is the true good?
in every circumstance and
And not just some of the time... all of the time.
to choose the right means of achieving it...
As we discern our true good we reach a decision point. What are we going to do in this particular situation? And how are we going to do it? Prudence, the "charioteer of the virtues" is the vehicle that leads us to goodness as we develop new and healthier habits in our lives.
So what does this have to do with our phones? Everything.
Technology, telephonic communication, global connectedness, social media, distraction culture, FOMO, comparison joy-thievery... none of these things are going away. What has to change is our reaction. Jack Canfield teaches many awesome life skills in his book The Success Principles, but one of my all time favorites is this simple formula: E + R = O [Event plus reaction equals outcome.] If we want to change our Outcomes, we have one of two variables to address: the EVENT (which is typically out of control) or the REACTION (which is typically in our control). We can't change the way technology is reshaping the world, but we can change our reaction to that seismic shift.
We turn to the virtue of Prudence as we move beyond this challenge. It's all fine and good to make a little phone fast here, try to use our phones for good there, have a day or two where we remember not to break the first three major rules (why is it SO HARD?!), but which of these rules or penances or Lenten-like promises that we have made will have lasting power in your life? Where will we find change? [By asking Jesus? You guess.] Sure, Jesus is always the answer, but also, learning how to discern our true good. Is it prudent for me to continue the same unhealthy patterns of phone usage that I have grown accustomed to until the next #SmartFreedom Challenge comes around? If I don't take steps to change my Reactions, how will I ever change Outcomes? Here are some questions to ponder as we move into our last week. Today's Challenge is to take the time to discern our true good in regard to our phone usage:
(1) Should I be on social media? Why or why not? What good is it adding to my life? Is it a source of peace? joy? Does it help me to experience interior freedom? Where are the negatives? Are certain apps and sites worse for me than others? If I cannot limit myself, should it be removed altogether? What alternatives am I not considering?
(2) What 3 things take up the most time on my phone? Can these three things be accomplished in other ways (e.g. phone calls or in person communication instead of texts, conducting business on a computer instead of my phone, removing all forms of "entertainment" from my phone like streaming services, games, pornography, etc.)? Where does my phone cause me to sin (you can review the Day Six Examination of Conscience HERE)?
(3) How much time a day do I spend in prayer? If I am seeking my true good, can it be found without prayer? [Spoiler alert: No] If I think that I am too busy to pray, what can I eliminate from my life immediately to make some room for Jesus?