Titles of Our Lady from the Litany of Loreto

Virgin Most Prudent

Annunciation

Two little girls had a governess who had been annoyed by the indiscretion of some member of the household.  Her pupils heard her say some sharp things about those "indiscreet" people, and the occurrence made a certain impression upon them.  When later on they made their first confession, each, unknown to the other, added to the list of their sins the item, "I have been indiscreet."  When this had gone on for two or three confessions, the priest asked what they meant by this, and when they replied that they did not know, he told them not to say it again.

We may be too wise to make such a mistake, but it is well, nevertheless, to beware of indiscretion, for it is a fault against prudence – a virtue which, as a rule, may be said to be hardly thought of, unless from a worldly point of view; for there is a worldly, selfish prudence, which directs all our efforts to looking after our own rights.

Prudence is one of the four cardinal virtues, and it was one in which Our Blessed Mother Mary excelled, for She is called in the Litany, "Virgo Prudentissima," "Virgin Most Prudent."  Prudence is the virtue which is opposed to rashness, heedlessness, inconsiderateness.  "Evil is wrought by want of thought as well as want of heart."  Perhaps we never have reflected that rashness is an occasion of sin, and that if we are heedless and imprudent, it is not part of God&'s plan to preserve us from the consequences of our own imprudence.

We may all, on looking back on our past lives, see that many of our falls were due to rashness.  Some companion, perhaps, had proposed a plan which promised pleasure or gain.  On the spur of the moment, we followed our rash guide, and had reason afterwards to repent of our folly.  We may have done something that we were afterwards ashamed of, and tried to conceal it; and so one fault led on to another, and it all began by want of reflection and by heedlessly following an impulse.

How much harm can be done by a person who never thinks before he or she speaks!  Such a one hurts people's feelings and makes mischief.  People distrust him or her, for they never can be sure what he or she will say or do, whose words and acts are not guided by reason.

Our Lady was most perfect in prudence; She was careful, guarded, circumspect in all She said or did.  She reflected, and was silent and asked God's help before She spoke or acted.  When the Angel announced to Her that She was to become the Mother of God, She thought over his words and asked, "How shall this be done?" remembering that She had consecrated Herself to God, and could agree to nothing that might interfere with Her vow.  There are on record only seven occasions on which She spoke at all, and how wise, how guarded, how prudent, were Her words on all those occasions!

It is a very good occupation when we are making meditations to take the Gospel and study these words of Our Blessed Lady.  Notice to whom She speaks, what She says, what is Her motive for speaking, as, for instance, Her kindness and charity at the marriage feast of Cana.  It may be that when we are among strangers, we are less careful than we would be among friends.  We are carried away by the novelty and excitement of our surroundings and experiences, and perhaps say things that we afterwards find to have been very foolish, nay, even wrong.  We may be amongst worldly people, who gossip uncharitably, and we join in and add to the mischief by our unconsidered words.  All this comes from want of prudence.  We are, again, not careful to keep things secret that were told us in confidence.  Love of excitement is likely to lead us into much imprudence.  We will join in anything that promises amusement, regardless of consequences.  If this is our disposition, we should watch over ourselves very carefully, that we may not be led astray.

We may, for instance, be led into extravagance and debt, if we are with people who gamble for high stakes, and we join in without reflection.   We may, in the same way, be led into temptation by rashly reading some book or magazine which is dangerous or unsuitable for us, or by watching some film which is harmful.  We should ask advice about these things, and heed the warnings of the wise.

It is a positive duty to be thoughtful, foreseeing, circumspect in all our doings.  If it is our habit to act on the spur of the moment, to give way to every passing impulse, we shall certainly sin against prudence before long, and against every other virtue when the occasion presents itself.

Let us fix our eyes on Mary, the Most Prudent Virgin, and ask Her help and guidance in everyday matters.  Act, like Her, always on principle, that is, according to rule and law, in all the small things of life, and you will gain a habit of carefulness and prudence which will guide you if you are unwittingly exposed to the society of people who might otherwise be an occasion of sin to you.  Be wise in time.  Do not wait to be taught, by bitter experience, the evil results of rashness, inconsiderateness and want of prudence.

Motto: "Prudence is mine.  He that hearkeneth to Me shall not be confounded.  Her bands are a healthful binding."

Practice: Often contemplate Our Lady's prudence, especially in Her words.

Example

A certain young man entered the Cistercian Monastery at Citeaux.  He had been softly brought up, and found the religious life very hard, especially the coarse food that was served in the refectory.  He almost died of hunger, for he could not force himself to eat of it.  He therefore prayed with great fervor to Our Blessed Lady to help him to overcome this weakness of the flesh.

One night, when he had prayed more earnestly than usual, he fell asleep with the piece of bread that had been given him for his supper in his hand; it was so hard and sour that he could not force himself to eat it.

Our Lady, who is full of tenderness for those young souls who seek to follow Her Son in the narrow way of religion, had compassion on him and came to him where he lay, and said to him, "Come, little son, rise up and follow me, and I will give you that food of which you stand in need.  Now you shall eat and be satisfied, for the bread I will give you is the banquet which My Son hath prepared for His friends."

He rose up, full of joy at Her kind words, and She took him by the hand, and led him to the place where the great Crucifix was hung, whereon Our Lord and Savior shows His Five Sacred Wounds.

"Look," She said, "here is your feast made ready, for My Son died to make all things sweet to you.  Take this crust of bread, which you so much dread, and dip it into His Wounded Side, which was pierced for you, and thereby you shall know the savor of that food wherewith poverty is nourished for His sake."

When with great awe and reverence he had dipped his crust into the Wound of Our Saviour's Side, Our Lady said to him, "Ecce Panis Angelorum," and when the novice ate of that crust, an exceeding great peace entered his soul, his hunger was stilled, and he was refreshed in body and mind.  It seemed to him the sweetest food he had ever tasted.  And, kneeling down, he gave thanks to Our Lord and His Blessed Mother, and was filled with love to endure the hardships of holy poverty.  He now knew that Our Lord can give that which maketh sweet the bread of tribulation through the virtue of His Most Sacred Passion.

This legend shows the prudence of Our Blessed Mother in a vivid manner.  She chose this gentle and persuasive way to correct the monk of his weakness, when all other means might have failed.

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