In one of the scenes Abelard is quoted as saying, “it is human to err in knowing God’s will. Therefore, your act in its pursuit can be wrong but you can still be virtuous if your aim is pure. The intent defines, not the deed (p. 82).
For a long time I’ve believed in the importance of our intent, but reading Abelard’s words took me to a deep place. For many of us privileged, twenty-first century good citizens it is easy to do good works, to help those in need; we don’t need to embrace any spiritual or religious tradition to do so to be human beings at our best.
But we faith seekers grapple with the faith/works conundrum, knowing that the intention we feel in our hearts matters. The more open our hearts, the more loving the work, which sends the God energy/love/peace out into the universe. This very mysterious act affirms St. Paul’s words: the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).