Purity of Intention
First Meditation - Its Necessity in Works of Zeal
I. There is no truly human work that cannot become worthy of God and which God cannot claim for Himself, provided it keeps within the limits imposed by the divine commandments; even eating, drinking and sleeping.
"In eating, in drinking, in all that you do, do everything as for God's glory." (1 Cor. X, 31)If such is the injunction concerning any human action, even those on the level of animal life, what will God not expect from me concerning the divine actions of my priesthood: the celebrating of Mass, administering the Sacraments, preaching, worshipping God in spirit and in truth, saving souls redeemed by His Blood?
So, one of two things: either God is kind and benevolent, to the point of weakness, towards everything human, like a father towards the lispings of his tender child; or else God sees something mysteriously precious in our free wills, which gives immense value to the slightest act issuing from them. The mysterious tree of the knowledge of good and evil!
II. To eat or drink from a motive that is not virtuous, is unreasonable, or which does not enter into the super natural order, would be something unworthy of the Christian. Yes, even in matters like these, which pertain to the animal and inferior part of our being.
To practise the smallest work of virtue just because we take the notion, without any reference to God, would be unpleasing to Him and of no value.
Why have we fasted, and thou hast not regarded? humbled our souls, and thou hast not taken notice? - Behold, in the day of your fast your own will is found. . . .(Is. lviii, 3)But what if we announce the word of God merely for the stipend or human applause? What if we consecrate the Body and Blood of Christ exclusively for the sake of the five or ten shilling offering? What if I do anything in the line of priestly functions because it may figure on my record sheet and tell in my favour when there is the possibility of some paltry promotion? Puny heart! Wretched little mind! For so little would you barter away your God and your glorious, eternal destiny?
III. With the light of faith and reason I shall enter resolutely into the murky chasms of my intentions, and I shall try to discover at least the measure and quality of these intentions as they inform each one of my priestly actions. No doubt I shall find, with no small shock to my pride, that there has been such a swarm of vile little passions and worldly interests, each clamouring for and obtaining with no great difficulty its own particular share of satisfaction, in all my ministerial duties, that God, the only rightful Claimant, has been left empty-handed or with only a meagre portion, and a portion certainly not the most presentable.
If this be so, I shall have to confess I have wasted my time, and that I can hope for no further reward. Amen dico vobis, recepistis mercedem vestram. (Matt. vi, 16.)
If my wretchedness and unspiritual frame of mind is such that I do not succeed in making entirely Thine the fruits of my priesthood by means of an all-pure intention, I resolve in future, Lord, at least not to carry out any priestly work wherein Thou hast not the primary and principal share.
Adapted from The Priest at Prayer
by Fr. Eugenio Escribano, C.M. (© 1954)
Translated by B.T. Buckley, C.M.
Please pray for our priests and pray for vocations to the priesthood!