Do you ever wish you could go back and repeat a day in your past? Did you make an unforgettable mistake that you regret to this day? Did you make several mistakes that stemmed from one wrong turn? Or maybe you want to repeat the day because it was the best day of your life. You haven’t felt that way in so long that you wish it would happen all over again.
Josh Raymond recalled the movie Groundhog Day in which the main character, Phil Connors, finds himself reliving the same day, Groundhog Day, over and over again. In the beginning, we observe Phil to be a selfish jerk who doesn’t care about anybody but himself. Throughout the movie, Phil goes through certain phases in reaction to this unbelievable phenomenon. He first lives carelessly because there are no consequences, then he enters a period of depression and tries to end his life, but by the end of the film, Phil has completely transformed. During his time trapped in this day, he taught himself to ice sculpt, play the piano, speak French, give medical and therapeutic counsel, and most importantly, he learned how to love and live selflessly.
Following the movie’s release, many wondered just how long it was that Phil spent in the time loop before escaping. Harold Ramis, the director, said that he spent somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 to 40 years in the loop. Entertainment website WhatCulture.com did the actual math for each event in Phil’s experience and they calculated that he was in there for 12,403 days. That’s just under 34 years.
On The Inner Life, Josh welcomed Father Chris Walsh to talk about the idea of putting aside time every day so that we can grow in the areas that we need. We might not have the endless opportunities that Phil had to hone his craft, but by turning to Our Lord and making a daily conversion to sacrifice what is necessary, we can maximize our time and opportunities for personal growth.
Father Chris explained that the Catechism differentiates between a first conversion and a second conversion. A first conversion is what we typically think of: that moment when we decide that we want our lives to be guided by the principles of Jesus Christ. While some have dramatic first conversions like St. Paul or Zacchaeus, Father Chris said he was challenged to examine his life by a Baptist and he came to embrace Jesus more fully. From then on, he has continually returned to his second conversion, his day-by-day struggle to become a better imitator of Christ.
That first conversion will always come to us if we genuinely and sincerely seek the truth, but it is the lifelong practice of the daily conversion that will be the most difficult climb. “We know that great line from Paul to the Philippians, right? ‘We work at our salvation with fear and trembling.’ And I wish Paul would have just added, ‘hour by hour.’ Hour by hour, we work it out,” said Father Chris. Josh followed up by adding that this daily conversion isn’t relegated to a single part of our day, like the morning. Our presence of God needs to permeate the whole day.
Father Chris recalled a story from about twenty years ago when he was in the seminary and a priest came to visit. This priest, who was very wise and respected throughout the diocese, said that he had come to a point in his life where he realized that “God wanted his evenings.” For many years, Father contemplated this comment and wondered what he meant. But eventually, he came to his own sort of realization. As a priest, much of the first part of his day is dedicated to religious norms, practices, and Godly things. But then in the evening, after dinner, Father Chris said he sometimes feels the desire to become selfish, to put himself before others. But God wants our evenings, too.
Father Chris said that there are several things we can do to help remind ourselves of our hourly call to conversion throughout the day. The first thing he mentioned was Relevant Radio itself. While people may not always be actively listening, having it on in the house is a constant reminder to pray, as are religious images and statues throughout the house. The most difficult but most important step we can take to make our daily conversions is to form a habit of prayer.
It’s great that we pray in the mornings, but what about the 15 hours that we’re awake? We should find opportunities to pray, like before meals, before we begin a task, before we go to sleep, and it is always beneficial to try to pray the rosary on a daily basis. We can pray at any point throughout the day, but we’re going to run into occasions of sin and the prayer is superfluous if we engage in activities that negate the graces that we were receiving earlier.
In the spirit of new year resolutions, let us try to be better converts to Jesus Christ on a daily basis and on an hourly basis. Let us consecrate each part of our day to Him so that we can be productive, holy, and selfless.
Listen to the full conversation below:
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