Conscience - Virtue of Prudence

"Conscience paints a clear picture"
(IF we understand and use it properly,
Conscience can be a Faithful Guide
as we journey to our Eternal Home)

Prudence crushes Satan


Human Being/Person
(A Unity (1) of Body and Soul)

Natural Order

Supernatural Order


Natural Soul,
Intellect & Will
Mind & Reason

Supernatural Grace, Infused Virtues and Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Conscience is a Practical Judgment of the Intellect Virtue of Prudence guides the Judgment of the Intellect
The Supernatural Order is the Ensemble of Effects exceeding the Powers of the Created Universe and Gratuitously produced directly by God for the purpose of raising the Rational Creature above its Natural Sphere to a God-like Life and Destiny.


Conscience ≠ a Virtue of the Soul
Conscience ≠ the Heart
Conscience ≠ the Will
Conscience ≠ the Intellect
= an Act, a Practical Judgment of the Intellect, a Faculty
of the Soul, and does not stem from Emotions or Feelings of the Body


Conscience - Virtue of Prudence

by Father Paul A. Duffner, O.P.

angelbar.gif (3645 bytes)

Virtue of Prudence and Conscience

"Conscience is a Judgment of Reason (Intellect) whereby the Human Person recognizes the Moral Quality of a Concrete Act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already completed". (CCC, n. 1778)

"Moral Conscience, present at the Heart of the Person, enjoins him at the Appropriate Moment to do Good and to avoid Evil. It also Judges particular choices, approving those that are Good and denouncing those that are Evil ... When he listens to his Conscience, the Prudent Man can hear God speaking". (CCC, n. 1777)

Three (3)

Four (4)



In reading about the Virtue of Prudence, one might find it difficult to distinguish it from Conscience. The Two (2) are inter-twined, but not the same. Conscience is not the Intellect, it is not a Virtue, it is a Practical Judgment of the Intellect; and Prudence is the Virtue (a permanent disposition of the Soul) that Guides that Practical Judgment. We see, then, how important is the Virtue of Prudence in the Christian Life. It affects all the other Virtues in that it Guides them in the choice of means to their Proper Ends. And in turn, it is affected by them, each in its own way. The Perfect Act of Christian Prudence needs the Help of each of the Theological and Moral Virtues. For example: Prudence needs the Light of FAITH, the Confidence of HOPE, and the Urging of CHARITY to direct One to his final End Means, to attain that End.

We see, then, how Universal is this Virtue in its Function, for it touches the whole of our Christian Life. Either Right Reason is Ruling us, or our Attachments to the World, the Flesh, or the Ego are Ruling us. In the measure that any of these last Three (3) Monarchs Rule us, it is going to affect the Performance of Prudence, and indirectly affect the Performance of the other Virtues that Prudence assists.

All of these Virtues are United in Charity which is “the Bond of Perfection” (Colossians 3:14) giving the Motivation that makes the Acts of every Virtue Meritorious. But in another way all Virtues are United in Prudence, since all of them Contribute to perfect Prudence, and all of them depend on Prudence in Choosing the Proper Means that lead to God.


Many monks had come to Saint Anthony from various parts, in order to discuss which was the Virtue whereby one might climb with security to the Heights of Perfection. Some thought Austerity of life, with Watchings and Fastings, to be the most necessary Virtues; others held Perfect Contempt of Earthly Things to be of still greater importance; While others again thought Solitude, Charity, etc., each one exalting different Virtues, according to his Inclinations and Graces, and giving reasons for the opinions he held. At length the great Saint Anthony arose, and, while praising all the various Virtues named by the others, said that Prudence seemed to him of all others the one Virtue which best enabled man to reach Perfection, for it controlled him in the practice of the others, keeping him from the two extremes of Excess and Defect. After developing the subject and explaining his reasons, Saint Anthony found his brother monks agreed with him that Prudence is that Virtue which leads most securely to God.           Cassian anthony.jpg (44044 bytes)