The battle for purity of intention

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

WE cannot overemphasize the importance of this concern. We have to do our best to see to it that we always have purity of intention in everything that we do, so that we only love and serve God, and because of that, we can properly love and serve everybody else.

This concern was somehow referred to in that gospel episode where Christ lamented over the hypocrisy and inconsistency of the leading Jews at that time. (cfr. Mt 23,13-22) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the Kingdom of heaven before men. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter,” he said.

When our intentions are not pure, when they are contaminated with some ulterior motives, there is no way but for us to fall into some form of inconsistencies and improper priorities.

We should be very careful with our intentions. Since they are hidden, we can easily play around with them. We can appear good outside but bad inside. Our deeds may be considered as acts of generosity and compassion, but the intentions may be those of envy, conceit and the like.

In determining the morality of our human acts, the intention plays a very crucial role. Together with the matter or object, and the circumstances surrounding our acts, our intention can referee whether they are good or bad.

With our intention, we can direct our acts to God, following what was once indicated by St. Paul, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever else you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10,31) That’s how our acts become good, or moral. Otherwise, they are bad, or at least dangerous.

This is so, since God, being the Creator, is the standard for everything. And more than the standard, he is, in fact, the very substance of what is good, true and beautiful, what is fair and just, what is perfection itself.

Nothing is good, true and beautiful, nothing is fair and just, nothing is perfect if it is not done with God and for God. In short, we need to refer all our acts to God. We have to make this affirmation very clear in our mind and do everything to make that ideal a reality.

We have to be most careful in handling our intentions. They play a strategic role in our life, for how and where we direct them would determine whether we want to be with God and simply with our own selves.

Our intentions express who and where in the end we want to be. Do we choose God, or do we simply choose ourselves, or the world in general? It’s actually a choice between good and evil.

Even if we are not aware, or refuse to be aware, of this choice, which is usually the case, the choice between God and us, between good and evil is always made with every human act we do.

For us to have purity of intention, we should be humble enough to ask for it from God first. We should not dare to think that we can have purity of intention by simply relying on our own efforts. We need God’s grace first of all. Our usual problem is that we think we can have purity of intention by our own efforts alone.