What good is our faith if we simply go back to old habits again?
At a time when you did not know God, you became slaves to things that by nature are not gods; but now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and destitute elemental powers? Do you want to be slaves to them all over again? -Galatians 4:8-9, NAB
Old habits die hard. If we are not careful with the choices we make, we will quickly fall back into our old ways. Many times, we do not even realize that we’re doing it. In the case of the Galatians, old habits disguised themselves as new habits, which may be even more dangerous and difficult to overcome.
Originally, the Galatians were pagans that were caught up in the ways of man. When they became Christians, they were making a decision to follow the ways of Christ, but by following the Judaizers (and their old, Jewish customs), they were beginning to follow the ways of man yet again.
The Galatians were being misled into these new habits. They didn’t realize that following the rules given to them by the Judaizers was not very different from their lives as pagans. Their goal was to live a good, Christian life, but they were learning the wrong way to go about it.
A similar situation exists in the Church today. I often hear from some Catholics about the “rules” they follow – rules not defined by the Church itself. Some of these are bad habits. Others are good habits, as long as they do not go against the teaching of the Church. But we must be able to recognize the difference between the ways of man and the ways of Christ.
I will not get into specific practices because I am not the utmost authority on Church teaching, but I am sure that many of you know where I am coming from. Someone may be more modern, more Orthodox, more ritualistic, more spiritualistic, and as a result, they have adopted certain practices. The question remains, are those practices the ways of man or the ways of Christ (as outlined by the Church)?
Do not fall back into old habits. Follow the ways of Christ by following the ways of the Church. Do not let the rituals, practices, and ways of man, as good and well-intentioned as they may be, push you further from Christ and His Church.