At the opening of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon, Pope Francis urged the bishops to be prudent.
Some people might have welcomed that word as a reprieve from urgent action about the problems of our day, as a sign that nobody should expect to be shaken up by what the bishops would say.
Then Francis went on to describe prudence as an unsettling virtue.
He said that prudence is not indecisive or defensive, but rather a virtue of discernment.
Prudence is a daring virtue because it continually puts our viewpoints and our comfort at risk.
In Proverbs 14:8 the Sage wrote “The wise man looks ahead. The fool attempts to fool himself and won’t face facts” (TLB).
One facet of the diamond of prudence involves taking time to reflect.
The digital age has great advantages.
Through emails, texts, and tweets we can communicate quickly.
The disadvantage is that it doesn’t cultivate in us a desire to think about things deeply.
We can’t microwave personal growth; it requires a slow cooker.
By taking time to reflect: We gain confidence in decision making.
Ever made a snap decision and later wondered if you did the right thing?
Reflective thinking can help to defuse that doubt. It also gives us confidence for the next decision.
Once we’ve reflected on an issue, we don’t have to repeat every step of the thinking process when we’re faced with it again.
We’ve got mental road markers from having been there before. We clarify the big picture.
Reflective thinking encourages us to go back and spend time pondering what we have done and what we have seen. To keep from making the same mistake over and over, you must stop and examine the process that led to it.
They say we learn by experience. No, we learn from evaluated experience. And experience becomes valuable when it informs and equips us.