Three weeks ago I was told in confession to keep my purity of heart. Is that too intimate to begin a blog post with? I’m okay with sharing it if youre okay with reading it – its important. I was surprised to hear this advice about purity because nothing I had confessed was about impurity, or so I thought. But as the priest continued advising me (thank God for good priests!) I began to see the picture unfold. Purity is not synonymous with chastity, and can mean so much more. He told me that purity of heart, and purity of intention, meant the difference in my daily actions. And to stop and really try to digest that has been a helpful meditation for me.

I have a cluster of what I refer to as “imperfections” that are not quite full blown sins, but lend themselves towards them. Procrastination. Self distraction. Laziness. Complaining, even inwardly. Lack of growth in spiritual matters. And I sometimes struggle when I know these aren’t sins yet, but they’re bad for me regardless. Anyway, the idea of purity of intention is helping me muddle through the spiritual confusion and work on the practical solutions.

Is it sinful to not get to the 10th task on your daily list? Well, did you try? Or did you succumb to an imperfection of laziness, sloth, despair, etc? These things have root causes.

Knowing that I have it within my grasp to ascertain if I willfully omitted something because I prioritized incorrectly (or didn’t prioritize at all) is helping me see if I had purity of intention that day. In other words, did I do my best? Did I intend well in every action? And not only intend well in thought, but in practice?

If I intended to take care of my baby but spent the day giving myself a mani pedi and a facial while gabbing to my friends on the phone instead of feeding and caring for my child, then my actions show that my intention was not thorough and pure. The purity of intention, or the give away, is in the direction of our acts towards what we intend to do.

If one intends to bake a cake but doesn’t get out the ingredients, their intent didn’t get them very far. If they measured the ingredients and mixed the batter and poured the pan and heated the oven, but something happened and the cake never went in, their intent is still more directed and “pure” than if they never began in the first place.

In a way, this is a challenge – a challenge to get moving and take action and prove where my intentions lie.

In a way, this is a relief – knowing that my genuine attempts count for something even when the rest of life got in the way of completion.

And in a way, this is a lesson – one that extends far beyond the confessional, and beyond personal meditation, and beyond a blog post, and one which is about life as a whole. I think it is fair to say that this purity of intention has very strong ties to honesty with oneself, to integrity, to a good work ethic, and to the root of what it means to always keep trying, to always giving your best.

And really, don’t you even feel better about your day when you can look back and find purity of intention in all you did?

As a last word, in confession this past weekend, the advice I got from another priest was to examine the lives of the Holy Family, and the Blessed Virgin in particular, and to find ways to meditate upon how they reacted to adversity in their lives. Which virtues were exemplified? What became habitual reactions? How could I also model this reaction to life, the world, and adversity on my tiny level? And I think if I tie these two pieces of confessional advice together, I might finally have the start of a good recipe for daily living.

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