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Father Muench Says...

Changing our habits

March 8, 2023

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Today, I would like to begin by thanking you for being a faithful reader of the North Country Catholic. This paper continues to be an important part of the life of the Diocese of Ogdensburg – uniting our diocese and bringing the people of all of our parishes into one family. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for joining me each week here in this space. I want you to know that I consider all of you, my readers, as friends. Each week as I prepare to write this column, I think of you all. Please know that you and your families are remembered in my prayers and Masses.

Today, in this column, I would like to share with you some ideas that I picked up from a homily that I listened to lately. I liked it.

It started with a story: There was a king in a particular place. He often walked through the streets of his kingdom. One day he was approached by a beggar dressed in rags. The man asked the king for some money. The king did not give him anything, but he did invite him to visit the royal palace. The beggar agreed to visit.

So, on a day, the beggar came to the palace. Needless to say, he felt very uncomfortable dressed in his rags. The king was pleased to see him and welcomed him. The king gave him many things including a new suit of clothes. However, a few days later the beggar was back begging on the street dressed in his old rags.

Why did he refuse to wear his new suit? This beggar quickly realized that when he would wear this new suit, he would have to change his whole lifestyle. He would have to live in a way he was not accustomed. He decided he was not ready to give up his former lifestyle. A new lifestyle did appeal to him. However, he knew that all the changes would demand slow and painful action – an uncertain future. He just couldn’t accept any changes. He was simply too steeped in those unpresuming days of being a simple beggar dressed in rags.

Our lives are about our habits. We live the second half of our lives according to the habits that we have developed during the first half. That is fine if we have developed good habits. However, this means a poor prospect for those who have been formed by bad habits.

Let us talk about Lent, our Lent. We join Jesus in the desert. It’s a time for the huge challenge of considering our habits, a time to look over our lives. Each year, Lent is that time to improve ourselves. We could consider this like finding a new garment, a good garment. This means we are ready to throw away that old garment, those old bad habits. The new garment means new changes and living a new way of life drawing closer to Jesus’ image. Am I ready for such a change?

For each of us, Lent is meant to be a time of change. To be successful Lent means first to change those inner attitudes of our minds. The changes of Lent mean the substituting of new habits for the old ones that seem to be so imperfect. To accomplish such a necessary change of heart that Lent asks of us, will be possible only through the power of prayer.

Lent is our great window of opportunity. During Lent, each year, catechumens are prepared for baptism. Each year, we, the baptized, are called upon to celebrate again the experience of our own baptism. It’s time to rededicate ourselves to being good disciples of Our Lord and God.

What do we have to do? In a nutshell: turn power into love; be kind; act justly, walk humbly with our God. May the Lord help us to let go of the rags of sin, so that God may clothe us in a newness of life.

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