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Archbishop Sheen Today! -- Rectitude of intention
Catholic Online (Renew Amercia web site) ^ | October 12, 2004 | Barbara Kralis

Posted on 10/13/2004 7:50:30 AM PDT by Convert from ECUSA

Archbishop Sheen Today! -- Rectitude of intention

Barbara Kralis

Barbara Kralis October 12, 2004

© Catholic Online 2004

Why do we hear so little mention of this virtuous idiom, Rectitude of Intention? Is it because the very meaning, per se, is a pox upon the relativism of our culture?

What does this term, 'Rectitude of Intention' mean? It means having the correct intention in all that we do — in our daily work, our recreation, our civic obligations, and our religious duties — however, not for our glory but all for the glory of God.

We live in an age when society does all it can to avoid giving offense to sinners, tolerates perversions and remains fearful of correcting the reprobate.

Rectitude of Intention is the antithesis of 'political correctness.' It helps us do what we ought to do, not what society or culture want us to do.

Let us see how the dictionary defines: rec•ti•tude n; strong moral integrity in character or actions; correctness in judgment (formal). [1]

Having holy Rectitude of Intention means seeing with a supernatural outlook (like having 'supernatural eyes') that all things come from God. By applying Rectitude of Intention to our ordinary daily work, we will have sanctified that work into a great gift to God. Rectitude of Intention can make any work holy. Moreover, through our sanctified work we sanctify others.

"Don't ever lose the supernatural point of view. Correct your intention as the course of a ship is corrected on the high seas: by looking at the star, by looking at Mary. Then you will always be sure of reaching harbour," wrote St. Josemaría Escrivá. [2]

Escrivá used to tell the true story about a girl he knew whose work in the kitchen was to peel potatoes. Before, she used to just peel potatoes; now, through what she has learned through Rectitude of Intention, she sanctifies herself peeling potatoes because she does it all for the glory of God, and she does it very well. It is a very small job but it has immense value because of the intention behind it. [3]

Continuing our apostolate when we do not see any results from our hard work is a sign of Rectitude of Intention and proof we are carrying out our task only for God's glory.

Rectitude of Intention is a foreign message in today's culture, where secular humanism is widespread, where everyone does their own thing and the chant of the multitudes is, 'I've gotta be me. I've got to be free.'

St. Thomas Aquinas teaches this about Rectitude of Intention:

"It is against simplicity that a servant be concerned with what the eye sees instead of what pleases the Lord. For such a servant does not possess simplicity and Rectitude of Intention. [4]

Jesus spoke to St. Thomas one day: "Thomas, you have written well of me. What reward do you wish for your work?"

St. Thomas responded: "Lord, I want nothing else but You."

After saying Holy Mass one day, St. Thomas decided to leave unfinished his magnificent life's work, the Summa Theologiae. He explained:

"After what God saw fit to show me on the feast of Saint Nicholas, it seems to me that everything which I have written is worthless. And so, I am unable to write anything more." [5]

Aquinas, having seen in a miraculous vision that God is more than anything he could conceive, continued to seek the Lord through a life of love and prayer.

Our fallen human nature and our lack of virtue, all due to sin, tempt us many times to do things for our own power and glory. This is especially found in excessive activism. When this happens, our works remain empty because we lack Rectitude of Intention.

We cannot think of Rectitude of Intention without thinking of John the Baptist. The Baptist preached truth to a wicked generation and he cared neither for his safety nor for 'political correctness.' In fact, John lost his head because he did not conform to popular cultural consensus.

A multitude of people followed John throughout his wanderings, and they thought him to be the long awaited Messiah. Yet, John, with complete and perfect Rectitude of Intention, became small so that Jesus could become great. John decreased so that Jesus could increase. John did this for the greater glory of God. This is the greatest example of Rectitude of Intention.

St. Bernard describes Rectitude of Intention poetically:

"Some seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge: that is curiosity. Others seek knowledge that they may themselves be known: that is vanity. But there are still others who seek knowledge in order to serve and edify others: that is charity." [6]

With holy Rectitude of Intention, we forget ourselves, we seek human perfection in our daily work, we give good example how to do a job well, and we serve others, all for the glory of God.

Here, below, is a popular Bishop Sheen vignette on this subject.

Rectitude of intention

By Bishop Fulton J. Sheen


I might begin by telling you younger people about the way bishops dress. This [pointing to himself] is what is known as 'choir dress.' It is used formally in churches. Then we have another dress, which is really for social purposes, the black cassock, and a long, long scarlet purple garment called the 'feriola' that reaches all the way to the knees. [7]

I was once giving a lecture in Cleveland. I arrived just a short time before the lecture, and I had nothing to eat so I asked the members of the committee if they would go with me to the dining room while I had a glass of milk and some graham crackers. I was dressed in this black cassock and long feriola. The waitress in the early 'flirties' took the orders of the men that were with me and then she looked at me and said:

"Well, Cock Robin, what will you have?"

Now, this is not the cock robin dress. But let me tell you about this. This is called a 'rochet.' It is, you see, linen down to the waist and then lace to the knees.

I was in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles, a short time ago, and I went up to my room at night and I found my pajamas on one bed and the rochet on the other.

I know, it takes a little time to get that, but you do.

Now, a word to you, younger people, it is very hard for you to realize that your parents lived in a day when no bicycle needed to be locked, when doors were left unlocked at night, when anyone could walk the streets of a large city without being mugged or attacked. Those were the days of peace. You have never seen them. It probably is hard for you to realize that that is the way America once was.

Now, how did this change come about in America? Why suddenly have we had so much dishonesty?

Let me tell you this story about dishonesty. I was in one of the big hotels of this country. The manager told me that he found a cashier stealing money. This woman had a very wide pocket in her skirt and she would reach in the drawer, take bills, and stick them in.

They saw her and one day they caught her in the act and discharged her. The union said to the hotel, "You may not discharge her. If you discharge her, we will call a strike on the hotel and call everyone out of the hotel."

The litigation went on for about three months. The union won. They had to take the girl back. Do you know what their argument was? The union said the hotel manager never told the girl it was wrong to steal.

The hotel agreed that they never told the girl it was wrong to steal. Then [laughing], how would she know?

See how much the world has changed. How? What made it change? It changed because we want no one limiting us.

You people have heard the popular song, "I've got to be me?" You have sung it yourselves, most of you. "I gotta be free." You want no restraint, no boundaries, no limits. "I have to do what I want to do."

Let us analyze that for a moment. Is that happiness? "I gotta be me? I got to have my own identity?" Are you on a basketball or football team? You cannot be yourself; you have got to live for the team.

The coach of the Oakland Raiders, Coach John Madden, asked me one day:

"What's happening to our Catholic schools? I have boys from Catholic colleges coming to my football team and they say 'I've got to do my thing.' How am I ever going to have a football team if everybody has got to do his own thing?"

A team means doing the other person's thing. But, we want no limits, no boundaries.

Just suppose, now, to get very practical, just suppose your parents never gave you potty training. Think it out. You gotta do your thing. Two things would happen. Today, you would hate your parents for never having trained you and second, you would hate yourself. So, you are what you are today simply because your parents laid hold of you and said, "We're going to train you to use the potty." They did not allow you to do your own thing.

Now, if I've made myself clear up to this point, you're living in an age where freedom is described as license, the right to do whatever your please. But that's chaos.

If everyone did what he pleased, drove a car as he pleased, we'd have disorder in the streets. Certainly you can do whatever you please, you can stuff your Aunt Maise's mattress with old razor blades. You can turn a machine gun on your neighbor's chickens. The, freedom becomes just a physical power. And the one who is most free is the one who is most strong.

So, the world has changed. We used to have laws. We had obedience. We have disciplines. Today, no boundaries, no limits. And, you're not happy that way.

Now, what is the one thing in this free world, thanks to the press, television, and movies, that is the major interest to the young? It is sex! So, let's talk about sex (next week). [8]


1. Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

2. Quote from Josemaría Escrivá, from "The Forge," ("Forja") n.749, published by Little Hills Press Pty. Ltd., Regent House, Australia; available from:

3. St. Josemaría Escrivá founded the worldwide lay movement and prelature 'Opus Dei,' which is Latin for 'Work of God,' in October 1928, the Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels.

4. Aquinas, 'Ephesians,' Ch.6, Lecture 2.

5. Bartolome de Capua, in the 'Neapolitan Process of Canonization, n.79; cf. 'Fontes vitae Sancti Tomae,' p. 108 and p. 3777.

6. Cf. Pieper, Scholasticism, 89.

7. [Eccl.] A linen garment resembling the surplise, but with narrorer sleeves, also without sleeves, worn by bishops, and by some other ecclesiastical dignitaries, in certain religious ceremonies.

8. Source: "Youth and Sex" video, produced by Sheen Productions, Inc., 23 E. Main St., victor, N.Y. with permission.

Barbara Kralis, the article's author, writes for various Christian and conservative publications. She is a regular columnist at, Catholic, The Wanderer newspaper, New Oxford Review Magazine, Washington Dispatch, MichNews, Catholic Citizens of Illinois, Phil Brennan's WOW, ChronWatch, etc. Her first journalism position was with Boston Herald Traveler, 1964. Barbara published/edited 'Semper Fidelis' Catholic print newsletter. She and her husband, Mitch, live in the great State of Texas, and co-direct the Jesus Through Mary Catholic Foundation. She can be reached at:

© Copyright 2004 by Barbara Kralis

TOPICS: Catholic
KEYWORDS: archbishopsheen; catholicdoctrine; catholicteaching; goodintention; intention; sheen
Another Abp Sheen treasure!
1 posted on 10/13/2004 7:50:30 AM PDT by Convert from ECUSA
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To: GirlShortstop; Lady In Blue; Grey Ghost II; Mark in the Old South; AAABEST; ArrogantBustard; ...

Archbishop Sheen Ping!

2 posted on 10/13/2004 7:52:39 AM PDT by Convert from ECUSA (tired of shucking and jiving)
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To: Convert from ECUSA

Keep up the good work on these Archbishop Sheen-related postings....I did a FR search and noticed that there are a LOT of these sort of articles posted....for some reason or another I never paid much attention to them, but now I will! :-)

3 posted on 10/26/2004 11:39:15 AM PDT by ConservativeStLouisGuy (11th FReeper Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Unnecessarily Excerpt)
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To: ConservativeStLouisGuy


You're welcome, my pleasure! Whenever Barbara Kralis has them, I'll post them here!

4 posted on 10/26/2004 11:41:05 AM PDT by Convert from ECUSA (tired of shucking and jiving)
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