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Changing bad habits

Although we are more than half way through Lent, we still need to continue to pray, fast, act charitably and repent. On March 5, Pope Francis told a general audience: “We all need to improve, to change for the better. Lent helps us and thus we leave behind old habits….” 

If we can get rid of these habits, we can “look with new eyes at our brothers and sisters and their needs”. In this way, we can see what the signs of the times are saying.

Lent is a time of conversion in which we should love our neighbour without expecting a reward. We should not accustom our senses to degradation and misery. We should avoid indifference and even seeing violence and sin as a predictable part of the daily news. Perhaps we are already hardened towards people sleeping on the streets and the hard work of poor trash pickers.

In his Lenten message, the pope points out that we must take practical steps to alleviate such poverty. He distinguished destitution from poverty, describing it as poverty without faith, without support, without hope.

Destitution is not only material, but also moral and spiritual. To use our own material possessions properly is a kind of wisdom. Waste will lead to more waste and even exploitation of the resources to which other people are entitled.

Pope Francis has just completed his first year in office. He not only proposes to reform malpractices in the Vatican, but is advocating a life of poverty and simplicity through both his words and deeds, including carrying his own bag, choosing to live more simply and striving to change moral destitution and soften human hearts.

There are still wars in many parts of the world today. There are civil wars in Syria and some Middle Eastern countries, the political tension in the Ukraine, violent attacks and killings, and even moral degradation in society through family disharmony and distorted value systems, all of which are disturbing human hearts and minds.

Spiritual destitution leads to emptiness and all kinds of addiction, including the Internet and even mobile phones.

The pope is challenging today’s world not to become accustomed to living in an environment that thinks it can do without God, in which parents no longer teach their children to pray or make the sign of the cross. Lent is a time to respond to God’s love with acts of charity.

To address this, we need to actively change, starting with bad habits and the just muddling-through mentality. We need to engage in self-reflection to understand what we ourselves are seeking and to return to truth and life, reconciling and making peace with God, the environment and our neighbours.

Lent is a good opportunity to have a conversion in which we can, through prayer, fasting, charity, reflection and repentance, prepare ourselves for a new beginning in the resurrected Christ.


May the gracious acts of Jesus become our own, because he “became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). SE