After successfully reflecting on the maternal titles of the Blessed Virgin Mary listed in her Litany, we shall now reflect on her virginal titles, commencing with the invocation: “Virgin Most Prudent”. It is pertinent to note that the term “prudent” is synonymous with the term “wise”. Inasmuch as some erroneously attribute this term to only mean “care”, or almost timid; nevertheless, it means being judicious in practical affairs; sagacious; discreet, careful in providing for the future, etc. All these have their roots in the virtue of wisdom or being wise. Thus, the invocation “Virgin Most Prudent” has been said to have its origin in Christ’s Parable of the “Ten Virgins” in which five were prudent (or wise) and the other five were foolish (cf. Mt 25:1-13). Here, Christ praises the prudent virgins who went to wait for the bridegroom with the lamps full of oil. The unwise ones were left out because they did not carry enough fuel. On another occasion, Jesus advises his disciples to be “prudent” as serpents and gentle as doves (cf. Mt 10:16).
Through her ‘fiat’ at the scene of the Annunciation, I have come to see Our Lady as the “Most Prudent Virgin” who knows how to keep her lamp well lit, feeding it abundantly with the oil of divine grace, waiting for the Bridegroom, for the Marriage of Lamb with humanity in the Incarnation
Certainly, the Blessed Virgin Mary is a determined and prudent woman. St. Luke records the dialogue between her and the Angel at the Annunciation event where the most important decision in history took place. It was a lesson of prudence. In that text (Luke 1:26ff), Mary hears a voice that says: “Hail, Full of grace, the Lord is with you”. She is ecstatic about the spiritual experience. This admiration, enchantment, amazement, is the principle of knowledge. There is no philosophy without the capacity to marvel. However, after the emotion comes reasoning. She starts to think about the meaning of it all. The angel says that she needs not to be afraid because it all comes from God. When he explained that she was chosen to be the Mother of the Messiah, in prudence, she questioned the angel of its possibility since she was a virgin and knows no man; thus, having no knowledge of how it could happen. The celestial being gives ‘a thousand explanations.’ This shows that God does not demand blind faith from Mary. He allowed her to ask questions until she understands His ways. Finally, the definitive phrase of the angel, usually translated as “for God nothing is impossible”, in the older versions of the original Greek would be: “God fulfils what he promises”. At that moment, the young Virgin had to decide with prudence, and gave her response, saying: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, let his promise be fulfilled in me (or be it done to me according to thy word).” With such a prudent response, she won for the world a Messiah. Knowing how to decide is to be prudent. Through the event of the Annunciation, we see in Mary, a “Virgin Most Prudent,” who inspires us to make the great decisions of our life after some time of silence, listening, enchantment, reflection, dialogue, questioning and response.
The Blessed Virgin Mary is the prudent virgin per excellence, always ready to meet the ‘Bridegroom’ as Jesus teaches in the parable referenced above. Not only does she carry her lighted lamp, but also takes extra oil (reserve) with her. Put differently, not only does she enjoy the moment of her choice, but she also knows how to predict and prevent difficulties and unforeseen events.
Our Lady’s prudence is one of her glories, always admired by saints and ecclesiastical authors:
St. Catherine of Siena exclaims: “O Mary, the vessel of humility in which the light of true knowledge burns, with which you were elevated and have pleased the Eternal Father; for this, He has snatched you and drawn you to Himself, loving you with a singular love. O Mary, because you had this light, you were not foolish, but prudent.” For Saint Ephrem the Syrian, Mary is “the first of all creatures, most prudent, most sagacious and enlightening Virgin.” To this, I unite my voice and say: it is not just any virgin, but one of the numbers of the prudent and the first among the prudent virgins, ‘who follows the Lamb with the greatest proximity, wherever he goes.’ (Rev. 14:4)
Dear friends in Christ, the light of Mary’s prudence shines brightly such that it can be said of her: “Who is she that comes forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array.” (Song of songs 6:10). As we invoke her awesome title (“Virgin Most Prudent”), may She kindle in our hearts the passion for ever greater intimacy with her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the very source of prudence, so that our Christian discipleship will be true and effective burning perseveringly for the reign of the Kingdom.
Let us pray:
O Virgin Most Prudent, with a maternal sweetness you shine on the universe arrange everything strongly and smoothly. Courageous and sweet Mother, come and teach us the way of prudence. Amen.
Oh Virgin Most Prudent, pray for us that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.
© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Fatima, Vila Sabrina, São Paulo, Brazil
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PS: Have you prayed your Rosary today?