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A Right Intention

October 5, 2016 by  
Filed under Carmelite Spirituality, Dan Burke, Divine Intimacy

A Right Intention


Presence of God – O God, remove from my heart all secondary intentions and all movements of self-love so that I may seek only Your glory.


Difficulties encountered in the apostolate often arise because apostolic activity is not exercised under conditions which are required by its very nature, conditions which are indispensable if this activity is to be transformed into an intense exercise of the spiritual life. There is question here of a certain disorder, arising from the more or less natural motives which insinuate themselves into the work and cause it to descend from the supernatural to the natural level. Thus it becomes an occasion for deviation and lukewarmness in the interior life, which in turn, makes the soul feel dissatisfied and uneasy. [Venerable] Pope Pius XII, in his Motu Proprio Primo Feliciter, expressed very clearly the necessary conditions for a holy activity. He said:

“The apostolate should always be exercised in a saintly manner, with such purity of intention, such interior union with God, such generous forgetfulness and abnegation of self, and with so great a love for souls that it [the apostolate] flows from the interior spirit which informs it and at the same time nourishes and renews this same spirit.”

Examining our apostolate in the light of these words, we shall be able to detect its weak points, to discover the defects to be avoided and the remedies to be applied. There are four conditions proposed: purity of intention, union with God, self-abnegation, love for souls. They are so important that while guaranteeing a fruitful apostolate, they constitute an efficacious means of spiritual progress. Striving to realize them, we shall simultaneously raise the level of our activity and of our interior life.

Let us first consider purity of intention. If no one can “serve God and Mammon” (Matthew 6:24), much less can the apostle give himself to apostolic works with the double intention of serving God and his own self-love, of pleasing God and the world, of being zealous for the interests of souls and for his own personal interests. Strength, peace, and life come from unity; dividing one’s forces especially in the realm of the spirit, can only lead to weakness, conflict, and ultimately to death. An apostle whose heart is torn between opposing intentions will look in vain for peace in his work; he will always be disturbed and dissatisfied.


FrancoisClaude-ditFrereLuc-SaintBonaventure for the post "A Right Intention"“When I desire to pray or work for the good of others, I must, first of all, turn the eyes of my mind toward You, O eternal Light, and to Your splendor, so that You will give me light, strengthen my spirit, and help me to withdraw, as much as possible, from external things in order to turn wholly toward that which is interior. Grant that I may see only the interior man in my neighbor, paying attention to the exterior only insofar as it helps the interior, so that everything else will be put aside as vanity and I may not be attracted by vain things.

“O my God, grant that I may be drawn to the apostolate, to prayer, and to giving good example, not by vainglory, ambition, human complacency, or any worldly interest, but only by the desire to save souls. You alone, O my crucified Christ, do I wish to seek! I want to inebriate souls with Your Blood, and not with vain curiosities, in order that they may desire You alone. I would say to each one of them, ‘I know only Jesus Christ and Him crucified.’ Hence I not only have no desire of worldly advantages or of being pleasing to men; I do not even judge myself as knowing anyone or anything but You, Christ crucified.

“O Lord, inebriate me so thoroughly with Your love that, if anything else but You presents itself to my sight or taste, to my hearing or any other sense, I shall consider it as nothing, so much so that I shall not take my delight, nor my glory, nor my rest except in Your Precious Blood, toward which I desire to be completely turned. Grant that my eyes may not be filled with the things of earth, but only with Your sufferings; grant that my mouth may not be filled with vain words, but with what concerns Your Passion, and may it be the same with all my other senses” (cf. St. Bonaventure).


Note from Dan: These posts are provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contain one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here: Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.

Art for this Divine Intimacy post on “A Right Intention”: Saint Bonaventure, Claude François (dit Frère Luc), 1650-1660, PD-US, author’s life plus 70 years or less; Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, and Divine Intimacy Radio, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, and his newest books Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep and Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Patricia

    These four conditions of an soul to serve God are very beautiful but rare in today’s society: purity of intention, union with God, self-abnegation, love for souls. Our current culture is striving so hard to keep God out of the conversation, to insist on these separation of church and state issues, so that there can be no public adherence to faith or even moral code in today’s society. There was a headline last week that stated that the Christian Cross is now considered a hare symbol for the LGBT community. So many are struggling to keep their own faith admist others around them who no longer participate even through Mass attendance once a week, let alone praying like St. Bonaventure to think only of Christ and His sufferings. Many do not even consider what they need to do to save their own soul. Will the remnant really double or triple down to save the souls of others around us?

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