Sunday, May 6, 2012

Purity of Intention

As I mentioned yesterday, purity of intention is key for those of us who struggle with vanity and very important for everyone else.  In Apostolate for Holy Motherhood, Jesus says "Never fear when your intentions are good.  I judge you by your intentions when doing a deed..."

In 33 Days to Morning Glory, Michael Gaitley describes purity of intention:  "A person practices purity of intention when he directs his thoughts, words, and actions not to himself or another creature but to a divine purpose or mission, and ultimately to God."

In Imitation of Christ, Jesus says "What you must do, then, is to purify your intention, to make it simple and unswerving, so that you may aim it straight at me, passing over all the various things that come between us."  "This is what you must desire:  that in you, whether by your life or by your death, God may always be glorified."

If we believe that God judges us by our intention, as He says, the implications for this in our lives are huge!  It means if something turns out horribly, but our intention was good in the beginning, it is as if it turned out well.  We do not need to lose our peace because of the outcome.  If we began our morning prayer, or the Rosary, or anything else for God's glory, but didn't finish because we were interrupted, it is as if we did finish.  We do not need to lose our peace because of the outcome.

In order to practice purity of intention, we have to be honest about our impure intentions.  Are we (at least in part) doing X to be acknowledged or praised?  To have someone return our love or effort?  If you've ever been disappointed in your life, it is because you were expecting something that you did not receive.

Jacques Phillipe tells us in Searching for and Maintaining Peace, "It is necessary to want and desire, but in a free and detached way, in abandoning to God the realization of these desires, as He desires, and when He wishes." 

Let us take heart!  We are imperfect and even when we begin with pure intention, it is easy to be sidetracked the first time someone acknowledges our effort or feeds our self-love with a compliment.  God knows we are weak and the devil does, too.  The devil would love nothing more than to render us ineffective in our love for Christ - To have us stop doing things for God because we can't maintain a pure intention for very long! 

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for holy desires.  Thank you for love that must push itself into action.  Fortify and strengthen our goodwill.  You see our hearts, Lord.  Give us eyes to see and understand our own intentions and help us purify them with your grace.  We can do nothing without you.  Amen.

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