Summa Th. II-II EN Qu.53 a.5
Objection: 1. It would seem that inconstancy is not a vice contained under imprudence. For inconstancy consists seemingly in a lack of perseverance in matters of difficulty. But perseverance in difficult matters belongs to fortitude. Therefore inconstancy is opposed to fortitude rather than to prudence.
2. Further, it is written (Jc 3,16): "Where jealousy [Douay: 'envy'] and contention are, there are inconstancy and every evil work." But jealousy pertains to envy. Therefore inconstancy pertains not to imprudence but to envy.
3. Further, a man would seem to be inconstant who fails to persevere in what he has proposed to do. Now this is a mark of "incontinency" in pleasurable matters, and of "effeminacy" or "squeamishness" in unpleasant matters, according to Ethic. vii, 1. Therefore inconstancy does not pertain to imprudence.
On the contrary It belongs to prudence to prefer the greater good to the lesser. Therefore to forsake the greater good belongs to imprudence. Now this is inconstancy. Therefore inconstancy belongs to imprudence.
I answer that Inconstancy denotes withdrawal from a definite good purpose. Now the origin of this withdrawal is in the appetite, for a man does not withdraw from a previous good purpose, except on account of something being inordinately pleasing to him: nor is this withdrawal completed except through a defect of reason, which is deceived in rejecting what before it had rightly accepted. And since it can resist the impulse of the passions, if it fail to do this, it is due to its own weakness in not standing to the good purpose it has conceived; hence inconstancy, as to its completion, is due to a defect in the reason. Now just as all rectitude of the practical reason belongs in some degree to prudence, so all lack of that rectitude belongs to imprudence. Consequently inconstancy, as to its completion, belongs to imprudence. And just as precipitation is due to a defect in the act of counsel, and thoughtlessness to a defect in the act of judgment, so inconstancy arises from a defect in the act of command. For a man is stated to be inconstant because his reason fails in commanding what has been counselled and judged.
Reply to Objection: 1. The good of prudence is shared by all the moral virtues, and accordingly perseverance in good belongs to all moral virtues, chiefly, however, to fortitude, which suffers a greater impulse to the contrary.
2. Envy and anger, which are the source of contention, cause inconstancy on the part of the appetite, to which power the origin of inconstancy is due, as stated above.
3. Continency and perseverance seem to be not in the appetitive power, but in the reason. For the continent man suffers evil concupiscences, and the persevering man suffers grievous sorrows (which points to a defect in the appetitive power); but reason stands firm, in the continent man, against concupiscence, and in the persevering man, against sorrow. Hence continency and perseverance seem to be species of constancy which pertains to reason; and to this power inconstancy pertains also.
Objection: 1. It would seem that the aforesaid vices do not arise from lust. For inconstancy arises from envy, as stated above (Article , ad 2). But envy is a distinct vice from lust.
2. Further, it is written (Jc 1,8): "A double-minded man is inconstant in all his ways." Now duplicity does not seem to pertain to lust, but rather to deceitfulness, which is a daughter of covetousness, according to Gregory (Moral. xxxi, 45). Therefore the aforesaid vices do not arise from lust.
3. Further, the aforesaid vices are connected with some defect of reason. Now spiritual vices are more akin to the reason than carnal vices. Therefore the aforesaid vices arise from spiritual vices rather than from carnal vices.
On the contrary Gregory declares (Moral. xxxi, 45) that the aforesaid vices arise from lust.
I answer that As the Philosopher states (Ethic. vi, 5) "pleasure above all corrupts the estimate of prudence," and chiefly sexual pleasure which absorbs the mind, and draws it to sensible delight. Now the perfection of prudence and of every intellectual virtue consists in abstraction from sensible objects. Wherefore, since the aforesaid vices involve a defect of prudence and of the practical reason, as stated above (Articles ,5), it follows that they arise chiefly from lust.
Reply to Objection: 1. Envy and anger cause inconstancy by drawing away the reason to something else; whereas lust causes inconstancy by destroying the judgment of reason entirely. Hence the Philosopher says (Ethic. vii, 6) that "the man who is incontinent through anger listens to reason, yet not perfectly, whereas he who is incontinent through lust does not listen to it at all."
2. Duplicity also is something resulting from lust, just as inconstancy is, if by duplicity we understand fluctuation of the mind from one thing to another. Hence Terence says (Eunuch. act 1, sc. 1) that "love leads to war, and likewise to peace and truce."
3. Carnal vices destroy the judgment of reason so much the more as they lead us away from reason.
We must now consider negligence, under which head there are three points of inquiry:
(1) Whether negligence is a special sin?
(2) To which virtue is it opposed?
(3) Whether negligence is a mortal sin?
Objection: 1. It would seem that negligence is not a special sin. For negligence is opposed to diligence. But diligence is required in every virtue. Therefore negligence is not a special sin.
2. Further, that which is common to every sin is not a special sin. Now negligence is common to every sin, because he who sins neglects that which withdraws him from sin, and he who perseveres in sin neglects to be contrite for his sin. Therefore negligence is not a special sin.
3. Further, every special sin had a determinate matter. But negligence seems to have no determinate matter: since it is neither about evil or indifferent things (for no man is accused of negligence if he omit them), nor about good things, for if these be done negligently, they are no longer good. Therefore it seems that negligence is not a special vice.
On the contrary Sins committed through negligence, are distinguished from those which are committed through contempt.
I answer that Negligence denotes lack of due solicitude. Now every lack of a due act is sinful: wherefore it is evident that negligence is a sin, and that it must needs have the character of a special sin according as solicitude is the act of a special virtue. For certain sins are special through being about a special matter, as lust is about sexual matters, while some vices are special on account of their having a special kind of act which extends to all kinds of matter, and such are all vices affecting an act of reason, since every act of reason extends to any kind of moral matter. Since then solicitude is a special act of reason, as stated above (Question , Article ), it follows that negligence, which denotes lack of solicitude, is a special sin.
Reply to Objection: 1. Diligence seems to be the same as solicitude, because the more we love [diligimus] a thing the more solicitous are we about it. Hence diligence, no less than solicitude, is required for every virtue, in so far as due acts of reason are requisite for every virtue.
2. In every sin there must needs be a defect affecting an act of reason, for instance a defect in counsel or the like. Hence just as precipitation is a special sin on account of a special act of reason which is omitted, namely counsel, although it may be found in any kind of sin; so negligence is a special sin on account of the lack of a special act of reason, namely solicitude, although it is found more or less in all sins.
3. Properly speaking the matter of negligence is a good that one ought to do, not that it is a good when it is done negligently, but because on account of negligence it incurs a lack of goodness, whether a due act be entirely omitted through lack of solicitude, or some due circumstance be omitted.
Objection: 1. It would seem that negligence is not opposed to prudence. For negligence seems to be the same as idleness or laziness, which belongs to sloth, according to Gregory (Moral. xxxi, 45). Now sloth is not opposed to prudence, but to charity, as stated above (Question , Article ). Therefore negligence is not opposed to prudence.
2. Further, every sin of omission seems to be due to negligence. But sins of omission are not opposed to prudence, but to the executive moral virtues. Therefore negligence is not opposed to prudence.
3. Further, imprudence relates to some act of reason. But negligence does not imply a defect of counsel, for that is "precipitation," nor a defect of judgment, since that is "thoughtlessness," nor a defect of command, because that is "inconstancy." Therefore negligence does not pertain to imprudence.
4. Further, it is written (Qo 7,19): "He that feareth God, neglecteth nothing." But every sin is excluded by the opposite virtue. Therefore negligence is opposed to fear rather than to prudence.
On the contrary It is written (Si 20,7): "A babbler and a fool [imprudens] will regard no time." Now this is due to negligence. Therefore negligence is opposed to prudence.
I answer that Negligence is directly opposed to solicitude. Now solicitude pertains to the reason, and rectitude of solicitude to prudence. Hence, on the other hand, negligence pertains to imprudence. This appears from its very name, because, as Isidore observes (Etym. x) "a negligent man is one who fails to choose [nec eligens]": and the right choice of the means belongs to prudence. Therefore negligence pertains to imprudence.
Reply to Objection: 1. Negligence is a defect in the internal act, to which choice also belongs: whereas idleness and laziness denote slowness of execution, yet so that idleness denotes slowness in setting about the execution, while laziness denotes remissness in the execution itself. Hence it is becoming that laziness should arise from sloth, which is "an oppressive sorrow," i.e. hindering, the mind from action [*Cf. Question , Article ; FS, Question , Article ].
2. Omission regards the external act, for it consists in failing to perform an act which is due. Hence it is opposed to justice, and is an effect of negligence, even as the execution of a just deed is the effect of right reason.
3. Negligence regards the act of command, which solicitude also regards. Yet the negligent man fails in regard to this act otherwise than the inconstant man: for the inconstant man fails in commanding, being hindered as it were, by something, whereas the negligent man fails through lack of a prompt will.
3. The fear of God helps us to avoid all sins, because according to Pr 15,27, "by the fear of the Lord everyone declineth from evil." Hence fear makes us avoid negligence, yet not as though negligence were directly opposed to fear, but because fear incites man to acts of reason. Wherefore also it has been stated above (FS, Question , Article ) when we were treating of the passions, that "fear makes us take counsel."
Objection: 1. It would seem that negligence cannot be a mortal sin. For a gloss of Gregory [*Moral. ix. 34] on Jb 9,28, "I feared all my works," etc. says that "too little love of God aggravates the former," viz. negligence. But wherever there is mortal sin, the love of God is done away with altogether. Therefore negligence is not a mortal sin.
2. Further, a gloss on Si 7,34, "For thy negligences purify thyself with a few," says: "Though the offering be small it cleanses the negligences of many sins." Now this would not be, if negligence were a mortal sin. Therefore negligence is not a mortal sin.
3. Further, under the law certain sacrifices were prescribed for mortal sins, as appears from the book of Leviticus. Yet no sacrifice was prescribed for negligence. Therefore negligence is not a mortal sin.
On the contrary It is written (Pr 19,16): "He that neglecteth his own life [Vulg.: 'way'] shall die."
I answer that As stated above (Article , ad 3), negligence arises out of a certain remissness of the will, the result being a lack of solicitude on the part of the reason in commanding what it should command, or as it should command. Accordingly negligence may happen to be a mortal sin in two ways. First on the part of that which is omitted through negligence. If this be either an act or a circumstance necessary for salvation, it will be a mortal sin. Secondly on the part of the cause: for if the will be so remiss about Divine things, as to fall away altogether from the charity of God, such negligence is a mortal sin, and this is the case chiefly when negligence is due to contempt.But if negligence consists in the omission of an act or circumstance that is not necessary for salvation, it is not a mortal but a venial sin, provided the negligence arise, not from contempt, but from some lack of fervor, to which venial sin is an occasional obstacle.
Reply to Objection: 1. Man may be said to love God less in two ways. First through lack of the fervor of charity, and this causes the negligence that is a venial sin: secondly through lack of charity itself, in which sense we say that a man loves God less when he loves Him with a merely natural love; and this causes the negligence that is a mortal sin.
2. According to the same authority (gloss), a small offering made with a humble mind and out of pure love, cleanses man not only from venial but also from mortal sin.
3. When negligence consists in the omission of that which is necessary for salvation, it is drawn to the other more manifest genus of sin. Because those sins that consist of inward actions, are more hidden, wherefore no special sacrifices were prescribed for them in the Law, since the offering of sacrifices was a kind of public confession of sin, whereas hidden sins should not be confessed in public.
We must now consider those vices opposed to prudence, which have a resemblance thereto. Under this head there are eight points of inquiry:
(1) Whether prudence of the flesh is a sin?
(2) Whether it is a mortal sin?
(3) Whether craftiness is a special sin?
(4) Of guile;
(5) Of fraud;
(6) Of solicitude about temporal things;
(7) Of solicitude about the future;
(8) Of the origin of these vices.
Objection: 1. It would seem that prudence of the flesh is not a sin. For prudence is more excellent than the other moral virtues, since it governs them all. But no justice or temperance is sinful. Neither therefore is any prudence a sin.
2. Further, it is not a sin to act prudently for an end which it is lawful to love. But it is lawful to love the flesh, "for no man ever hated his own flesh" (Ep 5,29). Therefore prudence of the flesh is not a sin.
3. Further, just as man is tempted by the flesh, so too is he tempted by the world and the devil. But no prudence of the world, or of the devil is accounted a sin. Therefore neither should any prudence of the flesh be accounted among sins.
On the contrary No man is an enemy to God save for wickedness according to Sg 14,9, "To God the wicked and his wickedness are hateful alike." Now it is written (Rm 8,7): "The prudence [Vulg.: 'wisdom'] of the flesh is an enemy to God." Therefore prudence of the flesh is a sin.
I answer that As stated above (Question , Article ), prudence regards things which are directed to the end of life as a whole. Hence prudence of the flesh signifies properly the prudence of a man who looks upon carnal goods as the last end of his life. Now it is evident that this is a sin, because it involves a disorder in man with respect to his last end, which does not consist in the goods of the body, as stated above (FS, Question , Article ). Therefore prudence of the flesh is a sin.
Reply to Objection: 1. Justice and temperance include in their very nature that which ranks them among the virtues, viz. equality and the curbing of concupiscence; hence they are never taken in a bad sense. On the other hand prudence is so called from foreseeing [providendo], as stated above (Question , Article ; Question , Article ), which can extend to evil things also. Therefore, although prudence is taken simply in a good sense, yet, if something be added, it may be taken in a bad sense: and it is thus that prudence of the flesh is said to be a sin.
2. The flesh is on account of the soul, as matter is on account of the form, and the instrument on account of the principal agent. Hence the flesh is loved lawfully, if it be directed to the good of the soul as its end. If, however, a man place his last end in a good of the flesh, his love will be inordinate and unlawful, and it is thus that the prudence of the flesh is directed to the love of the flesh.
3. The devil tempts us, not through the good of the appetible object, but by way of suggestion. Wherefore, since prudence implies direction to some appetible end, we do not speak of "prudence of the devil," as of a prudence directed to some evil end, which is the aspect under which the world and the flesh tempt us, in so far as worldly or carnal goods are proposed to our appetite. Hence we speak of "carnal" and again of "worldly" prudence, according to Lc 16,8, "The children of this world are more prudent [Douay: 'wiser'] in their generation," etc. The Apostle includes all in the "prudence of the flesh," because we covet the external things of the world on account of the flesh.We may also reply that since prudence is in a certain sense called "wisdom," as stated above (Question , Article , ad 1), we may distinguish a threefold prudence corresponding to the three kinds of temptation. Hence it is written (Jc 3,15) that there is a wisdom which is "earthly, sensual and devilish," as explained above (Question , Article , ad 1), when we were treating of wisdom.
Objection: 1. It would seem that prudence of the flesh is a mortal sin. For it is a mortal sin to rebel against the Divine law, since this implies contempt of God. Now "the prudence [Douay: 'wisdom'] of the flesh . . . is not subject to the law of God" (Rm 8,7). Therefore prudence of the flesh is a mortal sin.
2. Further, every sin against the Holy Ghost is a mortal sin. Now prudence of the flesh seems to be a sin against the Holy Ghost, for "it cannot be subject to the law of God" (Rm 8,7), and so it seems to be an unpardonable sin, which is proper to the sin against the Holy Ghost. Therefore prudence of the flesh is a mortal sin.
3. Further, the greatest evil is opposed to the greatest good, as stated in Ethic. viii, 10. Now prudence of the flesh is opposed to that prudence which is the chief of the moral virtues. Therefore prudence of the flesh is chief among mortal sins, so that it is itself a mortal sin.
On the contrary That which diminishes a sin has not of itself the nature of a mortal sin. Now the thoughtful quest of things pertaining to the care of the flesh, which seems to pertain to carnal prudence, diminishes sin [*Cf. Pr 6,30]. Therefore prudence of the flesh has not of itself the nature of a mortal sin.
I answer that As stated above (Question , Article , ad 1; Article ), a man is said to be prudent in two ways. First, simply, i.e. in relation to the end of life as a whole. Secondly, relatively, i.e. in relation to some particular end; thus a man is said to be prudent in business or something else of the kind. Accordingly if prudence of the flesh be taken as corresponding to prudence in its absolute signification, so that a man place the last end of his whole life in the care of the flesh, it is a mortal sin, because he turns away from God by so doing, since he cannot have several last ends, as stated above (FS, Question , Article ).If, on the other hand, prudence of the flesh be taken as corresponding to particular prudence, it is a venial sin. For it happens sometimes that a man has an inordinate affection for some pleasure of the flesh, without turning away from God by a mortal sin; in which case he does not place the end of his whole life in carnal pleasure. To apply oneself to obtain this pleasure is a venial sin and pertains to prudence of the flesh. But if a man actually refers the care of the flesh to a good end, as when one is careful about one's food in order to sustain one's body, this is no longer prudence of the flesh, because then one uses the care of the flesh as a means to an end.
Reply to Objection: 1. The Apostle is speaking of that carnal prudence whereby a man places the end of his whole life in the goods of the flesh, and this is a mortal sin.
2. Prudence of the flesh does not imply a sin against the Holy Ghost. For when it is stated that "it cannot be subject to the law of God," this does not mean that he who has prudence of the flesh, cannot be converted and submit to the law of God, but that carnal prudence itself cannot be subject to God's law, even as neither can injustice be just, nor heat cold, although that which is hot may become cold.
3. Every sin is opposed to prudence, just as prudence is shared by every virtue. But it does not follow that every sin opposed to prudence is most grave, but only when it is opposed to prudence in some very grave matter.
Objection: 1. It would seem that craftiness is not a special sin. For the words of Holy Writ do not induce anyone to sin; and yet they induce us to be crafty, according to Pr 1,4, "To give craftiness [Douay: 'subtlety'] to little ones." Therefore craftiness is not a sin.
2. Further, it is written (Pr 13,16): "The crafty [Douay: 'prudent'] man doth all things with counsel." Therefore, he does so either for a good or for an evil end. If for a good end, there is no sin seemingly, and if for an evil end, it would seem to pertain to carnal or worldly prudence. Therefore craftiness is not a special sin distinct from prudence of the flesh.
3. Further, Gregory expounding the words of Jb 12, "The simplicity of the just man is laughed to scorn," says (Moral. x, 29): "The wisdom of this world is to hide one's thoughts by artifice, to conceal one's meaning by words, to represent error as truth, to make out the truth to be false," and further on he adds: "This prudence is acquired by the young, it is learnt at a price by children." Now the above things seem to belong to craftiness. Therefore craftiness is not distinct from carnal or worldly prudence, and consequently it seems not to be a special sin.
On the contrary The Apostle says (2Co 4,2): "We renounce the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor adulterating the word of God." Therefore craftiness is a sin.
I answer that Prudence is "right reason applied to action," just as science is "right reason applied to knowledge." In speculative matters one may sin against rectitude of knowledge in two ways: in one way when the reason is led to a false conclusion that appears to be true; in another way when the reason proceeds from false premises, that appear to be true, either to a true or to a false conclusion. Even so a sin may be against prudence, through having some resemblance thereto, in two ways. First, when the purpose of the reason is directed to an end which is good not in truth but in appearance, and this pertains to prudence of the flesh; secondly, when, in order to obtain a certain end, whether good or evil, a man uses means that are not true but fictitious and counterfeit, and this belongs to the sin of craftiness. This is consequently a sin opposed to prudence, and distinct from prudence of the flesh.
Reply to Objection: 1. As Augustine observes (Contra Julian. iv, 3) just as prudence is sometimes improperly taken in a bad sense, so is craftiness sometimes taken in a good sense, and this on account of their mutual resemblance. Properly speaking, however, craftiness is taken in a bad sense, as the Philosopher states in Ethic. vi, 12.
2. Craftiness can take counsel both for a good end and for an evil end: nor should a good end be pursued by means that are false and counterfeit but by such as are true. Hence craftiness is a sin if it be directed to a good end.
3. Under "worldly prudence" Gregory included everything that can pertain to false prudence, so that it comprises craftiness also.
Objection: 1. It would seem that guile is not a sin pertaining to craftiness. For sin, especially mortal, has no place in perfect men. Yet a certain guile is to be found in them, according to 2Co 12,16, "Being crafty I caught you by guile." Therefore guile is not always a sin.
2. Further, guile seems to pertain chiefly to the tongue, according to Ps 5,11, "They dealt deceitfully with their tongues." Now craftiness like prudence is in the very act of reason. Therefore guile does not pertain to craftiness.
3. Further, it is written (Pr 12,20): "Guile [Douay: 'Deceit'] is in the heart of them that think evil things." But the thought of evil things does not always pertain to craftiness. Therefore guile does not seem to belong to craftiness.
On the contrary Craftiness aims at lying in wait, according to Ep 4,14, "By cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive": and guile aims at this also. Therefore guile pertains to craftiness.
I answer that As stated above (Article ), it belongs to craftiness to adopt ways that are not true but counterfeit and apparently true, in order to attain some end either good or evil. Now the adopting of such ways may be subjected to a twofold consideration; first, as regards the process of thinking them out, and this belongs properly to craftiness, even as thinking out right ways to a due end belongs to prudence. Secondly the adopting of such like ways may be considered with regard to their actual execution, and in this way it belongs to guile. Hence guile denotes a certain execution of craftiness, and accordingly belongs thereto.
Reply to Objection: 1. Just as craftiness is taken properly in a bad sense, and improperly in a good sense, so too is guile which is the execution of craftiness.
2. The execution of craftiness with the purpose of deceiving, is effected first and foremost by words, which hold the chief place among those signs whereby a man signifies something to another man, as Augustine states (De Doctr. Christ. ii, 3), hence guile is ascribed chiefly to speech. Yet guile may happen also in deeds, according to Ps 104,25, "And to deal deceitfully with his servants." Guile is also in the heart, according to Si 19,23, "His interior is full of deceit," but this is to devise deceits, according to Ps 37,13: "They studied deceits all the day long."
3. Whoever purposes to do some evil deed, must needs devise certain ways of attaining his purpose, and for the most part he devises deceitful ways, whereby the more easily to obtain his end. Nevertheless it happens sometimes that evil is done openly and by violence without craftiness and guile; but as this is more difficult, it is of less frequent occurrence.
Objection: 1. It would seem that fraud does not pertain to craftiness. For a man does not deserve praise if he allows himself to be deceived, which is the object of craftiness; and yet a man deserves praise for allowing himself to be defrauded, according to 1Co 6,1, "Why do you not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?" Therefore fraud does not belong to craftiness.
2. Further, fraud seems to consist in unlawfully taking or receiving external things, for it is written (Ac 5,1) that "a certain man named Ananias with Saphira his wife, sold a piece of land, and by fraud kept back part of the price of the land." Now it pertains to injustice or illiberality to take possession of or retain external things unjustly. Therefore fraud does not belong to craftiness which is opposed to prudence.
3. Further, no man employs craftiness against himself. But the frauds of some are against themselves, for it is written (Pr 1,18) concerning some "that they practice frauds [Douay: 'deceits'] against their own souls." Therefore fraud does not belong to craftiness.
On the contrary The object of fraud is to deceive, according to Jb 13,9, "Shall he be deceived as a man, with your fraudulent [Douay: 'deceitful'] dealings?" Now craftiness is directed to the same object. Therefore fraud pertains to craftiness.
I answer that Just as "guile" consists in the execution of craftiness, so also does "fraud." But they seem to differ in the fact that "guile" belongs in general to the execution of craftiness, whether this be effected by words, or by deeds, whereas "fraud" belongs more properly to the execution of craftiness by deeds.
Reply to Objection: 1. The Apostle does not counsel the faithful to be deceived in their knowledge, but to bear patiently the effect of being deceived, and to endure wrongs inflicted on them by fraud.
2. The execution of craftiness may be carried out by another vice, just as the execution of prudence by the virtues: and accordingly nothing hinders fraud from pertaining to covetousness or illiberality.
3. Those who commit frauds, do not design anything against themselves or their own souls; it is through God's just judgment that what they plot against others, recoils on themselves, according to Ps 7,16, "He is fallen into the hole he made."
Objection: 1. It would seem lawful to be solicitous about temporal matters. Because a superior should be solicitous for his subjects, according to Rm 12,8, "He that ruleth, with solicitude." Now according to the Divine ordering, man is placed over temporal things, according to Ps 8,8, "Thou hast subjected all things under his feet," etc. Therefore man should be solicitous about temporal things.
2. Further, everyone is solicitous about the end for which he works. Now it is lawful for a man to work for the temporal things whereby he sustains life, wherefore the Apostle says (2Th 3,10): "If any man will not work, neither let him eat." Therefore it is lawful to be solicitous about temporal things.
3. Further, solicitude about works of mercy is praiseworthy, according to 2Tm 1,17, "When he was come to Rome, he carefully sought me." Now solicitude about temporal things is sometimes connected with works of mercy; for instance, when a man is solicitous to watch over the interests of orphans and poor persons. Therefore solicitude about temporal things is not unlawful.
On the contrary Our Lord said (Mt 6,31): "Be not solicitous . . . saying, What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed?" And yet such things are very necessary.
I answer that Solicitude denotes an earnest endeavor to obtain something. Now it is evident that the endeavor is more earnest when there is fear of failure, so that there is less solicitude when success is assured. Accordingly solicitude about temporal things may be unlawful in three ways. First on the part of the object of solicitude; that is, if we seek temporal things as an end. Hence Augustine says (De Operibus Monach. xxvi): "When Our Lord said: 'Be not solicitous,' etc. . . . He intended to forbid them either to make such things their end, or for the sake of these things to do whatever they were commanded to do in preaching the Gospel." Secondly, solicitude about temporal things may be unlawful, through too much earnestness in endeavoring to obtain temporal things, the result being that a man is drawn away from spiritual things which ought to be the chief object of his search, wherefore it is written (Mt 13,22) that "the care of this world . . . chokes up the word." Thirdly, through over much fear, when, to wit, a man fears to lack necessary things if he do what he ought to do. Now our Lord gives three motives for laying aside this fear. First, on account of the yet greater favors bestowed by God on man, independently of his solicitude, viz. his body and soul (Mt 6,26); secondly, on account of the care with which God watches over animals and plants without the assistance of man, according to the requirements of their nature; thirdly, because of Divine providence, through ignorance of which the gentiles are solicitous in seeking temporal goods before all others. Consequently He concludes that we should be solicitous most of all about spiritual goods, hoping that temporal goods also may be granted us according to our needs, if we do what we ought to do.
Reply to Objection: 1. Temporal goods are subjected to man that he may use them according to his needs, not that he may place his end in them and be over solicitous about them.
2. The solicitude of a man who gains his bread by bodily labor is not superfluous but proportionate; hence Jerome says on Mt 6,31, "Be not solicitous," that "labor is necessary, but solicitude must be banished," namely superfluous solicitude which unsettles the mind.
3. In the works of mercy solicitude about temporal things is directed to charity as its end, wherefore it is not unlawful, unless it be superfluous.
Summa Th. II-II EN Qu.53 a.5