Our Desires1. Most people are always longing for something. Those who are poor yearn to be rich. Those who are in bad health and are not resigned are longing to be cured. Those who have plenty of money and good health, but misuse these gifts to satisfy their lower urges in the hope of finding happiness, find instead only emptiness and remorse. Those who covet honours and fame are restless when they see their colleagues succeeding while they themselves remain on the bottom rung of the ladder. On the other hand, those who reach the summit of their profession and believe that they have fulfilled their purpose in life, soon discover that the easy chair in which they hoped to settle down is padded with thorns. The glory which they have won is an empty thing, the object of the envy or of the contempt of others. So we are all yearning and sighing and cannot find peace. Our hearts cannot be at rest in this world. “Here we have no permanent city,” says St. Paul, “but we seek for the city that is to come.” (Heb. 13:14) St. Augustine has summed up the reason for our continual longing. "You have made us for Yourself, O God, and our hearts will never rest until they find rest in You." (Confessions I, 1:1)
2. Our desires may be vain or culpable or meritorious. It is useless to long for the impossible or to base our desires on motives contrary to Christian resignation. Happiness cannot be found on earth, so it is futile to look for it here. It is much better to suppress these vain desires and to convert them into a longing for God and for our own perfection. Some desires are blameworthy, for they spring from an immoderate attachment to worldly things, such as wealth or honours or even sin. These desires are always sinful and can be seriously so when they are deliberately directed towards evil objects. Finally, however, there are desires which are good and reasonable. Even Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane prayed earnestly to His heavenly Father to take away from Him, if possible, the bitter chalice of the Passion. But He added immediately: “Yet not my will but thine be done.” (Luke 22:42) When He was hanging from the cross on Calvary, feeling crushed beneath the weight of our sins and utterly abandoned, He cried out in an agony of yearning: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mt. 27:46) Nevertheless, He accepted with perfect self-surrender and obedience all His sufferings, even His mysterious abandonment by His heavenly Father. The Saints followed the example of Jesus. Their lives were as full of longing as they were of suffering. But just as they offered their sufferings to God with generous hearts, so they offered Him their desires as a prayer of supplication. The prophet David yearned for mercy and forgiveness and his longing was expressed for all time in the psalm Miserere. St. Teresa longed to suffer and to die for the love of Jesus. When St. Paul was labouring and praying for the salvation of his fellow-men, he desired “to depart and to be with Christ, a lot by far the better.” (Cf. Phil. 1:23)
3. What desires have we? Are they all directed towards holiness and towards Jesus? Or are they all for useless worldly things? In times of physical or spiritual affliction do we make sure that our desires are in conformity with and subject to the will of God? Let us examine ourselves seriously. If we find that any of our desires are vain or sinful, let us change this state of affairs at once. Let us make God the object of all the longing in our hearts. Let us ask Him always for those virtues which are really necessary for us, especially for an increase in our love for Him and in our readiness to do His will.