One of my favourite Bob Dylan albums was titled Desire. I find that word to be deeply alluring. During my life, I have desired many things: my father’s approval, popularity among my peers, academic achievement, wealth, sex, close friendships and many, many other things. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt. 6:21). What this mean to me is that what we desire most will shape our souls and ultimately determine our destinies.
If you read the lives of the Saints, you will see that they shared one main desire: to love God above all things and to show that love in every aspect of their lives. They often denied themselves even legitimate possessions and pleasures. Many of them, such as St. Padre Pio, ate very little. Many others, such as St. Francis of Assisi, never married and never had children. It is said that when St. Bernadette of Lourdes was given a valuable coin, she threw it on the ground and exclaimed, “It is burning hot!”
Many people, including many Catholics, would say that such people are fanatics; that it is crazy not to partake of the legitimate pleasures of life. However, the Saints understood that only God can ultimately satisfy our deepest longings; that even legitimate pleasures may hinder our spiritual growth.
When I remember the many pleasures that I have had over the years, I realize how short lived they were. Many of them weren’t sinful. However, by often overemphasizing them, I became blind to my spiritual condition. Some of my other pleasures and desires were sinful and I have paid a big price for indulging in them. While I probably won’t become as self-denying as the great Saints were, I appreciate their wisdom of desiring God before all temporal things.
My desire is to become holy, as God is holy (Leviticus 11:44). As He has brought me closer to Himself, He has given me just a small taste of the indescribable pleasure that only He can provide. Jesus said, “… if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him” (Lk 11:13)! Desire God above all things and He will not disappoint you.