Why Purity of Intention Matters
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Many of us are full of zeal and absolutely on fire for God. We get involved in all sorts of activity, presumably for the love of God.
But what is our true purpose ?
Ven. Louis of Granada examines purity of intention when it comes to zeal, and why it matters for God.
Excerpted from “Purity of Intention- The Sinner’s Guide” by Ven. Louis Granada, O.P.
“This virtue, which is intimately connected with zeal, enables us to forget ourselves in all things, and to seek first the glory of God and the accomplishment of His good pleasure, persuaded that the more we sacrifice our own interests in His service, the greater advantage and blessing we shall reap. For this reason we must examine the motives of all our actions, that we may labor purely for God, since nothing is more subtle than self-love, which insinuates itself into every work, unless we maintain a constant guard. Many who now seem rich in good works will be found very poor at the day of judgment for lack of this pure intention. This is the virtue which Our Lord symbolized when He said: “The light of thy body is thy eye. If thy eye be single thy whole body shall be lightsome. But if thy eye be evil thy whole body shall be darksome.” (Matt. 6:22-23).
We often see men in high positions lead irreproachable lives, carefully avoiding anything unbecoming the dignity of their station; but, in many cases, what is the motive which animates them?
They see that virtue befits their position, and consequently they practice it, in order to discharge the duties of their office in a manner that will seem becoming, or to secure promotion to still greater dignities. Thus the principle of their actions is not the fear or the love of God, or obedience to His divine will, but their own interest. Such virtue may deceive men, but in the eyes of God it is as smoke; it is only the shadow of justice.
The practice of the moral virtues and the most severe mortifications are meritorious before God only inasmuch as they are animated by His Divine Spirit.
The temple of Jerusalem contained nothing which was not either of gold or covered with gold. It is no less fitting that in our souls, the living temples of the Divinity, there should be nothing that is not charity or animated by it. Let us bear in mind that God values the intention more than the action, and that the simplest work becomes noble when performed with a noble intention, while the greatest will be of little value if performed from an indifferent motive.
By endeavoring to acquire this purity of intention we shall follow the example and counsel of Our Saviour, who tells us to love as He has loved (Cf. Jn. 13:34)—–that is, purely and disinterestedly. Happy is he who imitates this noblest characteristic of the divine love. Rapid will be his growth in the likeness of God, and consequently in His love, for resemblance usually begets love. Let us rid ourselves of human respect, and, keeping God ever before our eyes, let us not suffer selfish or worldly motives to mar the merit of our good works and rob us of their reward, which is Heaven and the possession of God Himself.
As it is a difficult undertaking to acquire this virtue, we must earnestly ask it of God, especially in the Lord’s Prayer, frequently repeating with fervor, “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven.”
Beg of Him to grant you grace to imitate on earth the purity and devotion with which the heavenly choirs bless and fulfill His adorable will.”
Source: : The Sinner’s Guide, Chapter 42
Books on Discerning Purity of Intention
- Soul of the Apostolate
- The Sinner’s Guide, Chapter 42
- Summa of the Christian Life, Volumes 1-3 by Ven. Louis, Granada, O.P. – Catholic Company
- Summa of the Christian Life, Volumes 1-3 by Ven. Louis Granada, O.P. (Amazon)