Those who have no good intention in their labors resemble the Apostles fishing all night; their labor was fruitless. But those who do everything for the sake of God resemble the Apostles when they let down their nets the second time.
All for the greater glory of God, must be the motive of all our actions. If in any action we seek not the glory of God, but our own glory, we commit an injustice against God, because we do not attribute to Him what is due Him.
In order that our daily actions may bear fruit for eternal life, it is necessary above all that they should be done with the intention of pleasing God. For this reason, as soon as we awake in the morning, we offer our heart and soul to Him, desiring that they may both be ever united to Him and employed in His divine service. "I offer to Thee all my thoughts, words and actions," is the prayer we must say. This general offering extends to the whole day, unless unhappily we recall it by committing some deliberate sin; so that all we do during the day is thereby directed to God, and done with a view to please Him. "Oh, my God, I do this for the love of Thee." This short prayer renews our good intention of striving in all things to please God.
A certain hermit who had retired into the desert to do penance for his sins, was in the habit of going every day to a well at some distance in order to fetch water for his use. The journey was tiresome, but he made it cheerfully, with the intention of pleasing God. One very hot day, as he was carrying his vessel full of water under a broiling sun, the devil suggested to him that it was a very foolish thing to go daily such a distance for the water, when he might, if he pleased, build his cell close to the spring. This thought took possession of his mind and he was determined to place his cell closer to the spring.
While he was thus thinking of the change, he was surprised to hear a voice behind him saying, "One, two, three, four," as if there were some one walking after him and counting his steps. The hermit looked around in astonishment and beheld a lovely youth, clad in a brilliant robe of light; and he knew at once that it was an angel. "Be not astonished," the stranger said. "I am your guardian angel, and I am counting your steps, that not one may pass unrewarded." With these words the beautiful vision disappeared, and the hermit, giving thanks to God, went on his way with joyful steps, resolved to increase rather than to lessen the distance between the hermitage and the well.
We read in the history of times gone by, that it was once commonly believed that there existed, yet undiscovered, a wonderful stone, which was called "the Philosopher's stone," and which possessed the singular and valuable property of converting whatever metal it touched into the purest gold. Many men devoted their lives and their fortune to the discovery of this stone, which, of course, had no existence except in their own imagination. We, however, my dear children, by digging in the rich mine of Holy Scripture, may be said to have discovered the true Philosopher's stone, or indeed something far more precious and wonderful in its effects. It is contained in these words of St. Paul: "Whether you eat, or drink,or whatsoever else you do, do all for the glory of God."
But how is it, you will say, that these words contain so great a treasure. It is because they show us that even the commonest actions, such as our very eating, sleeping, and our diversions, become far more precious than the purest gold, if done for the glory of God and in the name of our Blessed Lord.
When St. Peter of Alcantara was a child, he was distinguished for his love of prayer and spirit of recollection. He rose very early that he might have time to make his meditation. He then went to church, where he heard Mass with devotion, and often received Holy Communion. The rest of the day was spent at school; but even there, and as he walked along the streets, he never forgot God, but continually raised his heart to Him by some little act of love. At dinner he would always leave a portion on his plate for the love of God, and would never drink anything but water.
Now it happened one day that, when the dinner hour came, Peter was missing. They sought him high and low, but he could not be found. At length they bethought themselves of one room which they had not searched, namely, the oratory. There they found the holy child upon his knees. He had forgotten all about his dinner. What a reproach is the example of this holy boy to those lazy children who, so far from forgetting their meals through love of their prayers, often sit down to eat without having said any prayers at all.
One of the Fathers of the Society of Jesus was once preaching a mission in a large town. God had given him the gift of touching the hearts of his hearers, and many who came to hear his sermons through curiosity returned home sorry for their sins, with the resolution of living more piously for the future. One day a young man went to hear him. He had from his boyhood lived a worldly life. But as the words of the preacher fell on his ears the grace
of God spoke to his heart, and he resolved to change his life and become a saint.
To accomplish this with greater security, he went to a monastery, where for the rest of his life he did penance for the sins of his youth, and lived in great piety. When he had been there a few years, it happened that the same Father who had preached the mission visited the monastery. Hearing of the young man, he asked the superior's permission to speak to him. His request was at once granted. The priest said to him : "I am sure you must be very happy here, so free from all dangers, and bearing the sweet yoke of our dear Lord."
"It is true, Father," he replied, "that I am happy here, but I have many trials and- crosses to bear. I feel it as difficult now to submit to silence, fasting, and watching, which our rule enjoins, as I did on the first day I came here. But when I remember that by bearing patiently these trials I am satisfying for my sins, and gaining by God's grace merit for Heaven, I thank God for His goodness and say to myself: 'Go on, my soul; fight bravely; if you hope to reach Heaven, you must carry your cross' ; and in this way what is so difficult in itself becomes easy to me."
A pure intention is a very important matter; our eternal salvation depends on it, because all our actions are regulated by it. If we have a pure intention, all our works, not only the good, but even the indifferent ones, as well as our labors and occupations, become meritorious for eternity. Thus will our days, though in the eyes of men we do nothing extraordinary, be precious before God, being filled with good works done for His love and in the name of His divine Son.
Source: Story Sermonettes for the Children's Mass, Imprimatur 1921