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By Deacon Tom

My father absolutely loves cowboy movies and TV westerns—always has and still does. Some of my fondest memories are of times spent with Dad just sitting together and watching John Wayne or Glenn Ford lead the good guys to victory over the bad guys. On one occasion when I was still in middle school, I remember Dad asking me if I had ever noticed that the good guys in westerns seemed to wear white hats and the bad guys tended to wear black hats. This was particularly true in the black and white films. But even in modern colorized westerns the trend seems to endure. Anyway, after pointing out this tendency, my father went on to ask me: “Son, what color is your hat?”

From that day forward, the hat imagery became a form of shorthand code between us. If for some reason Dad thought that I might be wandering away from the honorable and righteous path that God intended, he might simply say, “Son, your hat is looking a little grey (or worse).” Similarly, when confronted with an important decision, he might simply say, “Put on your white hat.” I concede that the metaphor might seem simplistic. However, it does illustrate two important points. First, in all we do, there is usually a right way and a wrong way. A good way or a bad way. A way pleasing to God and a way that separates us from God. Secondly, we ultimately choose the course that our lives will take. No one forces us to wear a hat of a certain color. Because of our free will, the hat we don is entirely up to us.

It’s probably pretty obvious that God wants each of us to be the best possible versions of ourselves and that means we are meant to wear white hats. But sometimes we all succumb to the power of temptation and our hats get a little dirty. During this season of Lent, we are called to take our hats to the cleaners. We are asked to repent for the times that we have failed to live up to our creator’s expectations, and we are reminded to turn away from sin and to turn back to God through prayer, fasting and almsgiving. And when the pressure and the temptation to don a dark colored hat materializes, we are reminded that our Lord, who loves us beyond all understanding, will grant us the strength and courage to ride with the good guys instead.

May your Easter celebrations be blessed in every way.