The proper intention

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

IN all our moral acts which are done knowingly and freely, we should have the proper intention. That’s because our intention plays a crucial role in our life. It is where we decide whether we would like to be with God or simply with our own selves, to glorify God, love and help others, or simply play the game of self-indulgence.

We are reminded of this duty to have the proper intention in that gospel episode where Christ told his disciples, “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others.” (Mt 6,1-2)

We know that 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.

And so, a lot depends on our intention, because our intention is the very expression of 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, the choice between God and us, between good and evil is always made with every human act we do.

We need to realize then that we have to take care of our intention, making it as explicit as possible, and honing it to get engaged with its proper and ultimate object who is God. We should try our best to shun being simply casual or cavalier about this responsibility.

We need to actively purify our intentions, since we have to contend with many spoilers in this regard these days. In fact, we just have to look around and see how openly opposed many people are of directing their intentions to God.

To them, intentions are strictly personal and confidential matters that others do not have any right to meddle. While there is a certain truth to this claim, we have to remind ourselves that our intentions too are subject to a moral law.

This moral law is universal in character. There is something essential in it that cannot change in spite of the variations that this law can come to us due to the differences of cultural, historical and social conditionings, etc.

When we have the proper intention, we would be pursuing what is truly good for us. We would be approaching the fullness of our humanity, in fact.