The 1993 film “Groundhog Day” has become its own metaphorical meme for this quarantine that we are experiencing because of COVID-19.
In that movie, Bill Murray’s character is a local television weatherman who travels to Punxsutawney to cover the annual Groundhog Day reveal of the rodential prophet, Phil. However, the plot of the story has Murray’s cynical character reliving that same Groundhog Day over and over again. Every morning, he awakens to Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe,” and he experiences the same events in a seemingly endless loop. It isn’t until Murray learns to be less cynical and starts treating people with kindness and dignity that he breaks out of that particular purgatory.
The movie has become synonymous with déjà vu and the terrible experience of reliving the same difficulties day in and day out. It has certainly found apt resonance for us during these days of quarantine, home schooling and working from home. I can’t remember which Zoom meeting I am at most of the time – let alone what day of the week it is!
However, this time of sequestration for us as a people of faith can have a positive effect on us as the church. Now, more than ever, families are being called to exercise their essential role of being the domestic church. Parents have reclaimed their rightful place as the primary educators and catechists of their children. Living rooms and kitchen tables have been reinforced as places of prayer.
Or, at least, they should be.
This quarantine is an opportunity, not a crisis. And like any opportunity, it can be wasted. We cannot allow that to happen.
If we have been following live-streamed Masses, but have no other entry for Jesus into our houses, then we have wasted quarantine.
If we have nowhere in our homes where Mary is honored, or the crucified and risen Lord is displayed for us, then we have wasted quarantine.
If we are not claiming our parental duties as leaders of prayer in the home and are not sharing our faith with our children on a daily basis, then we have wasted quarantine.
If we complain that we can’t “get” the sacraments but have no intention of engaging in the real charitable life of the Church that the Sacraments are meant to sustain, then we have wasted quarantine.
If we return to a superficial checklist of “things-good-Catholics-do-to-get-into-heaven” without seeing the transformative effects that those actions are meant to have, then we have wasted quarantine.
If we cannot wait to return to humanity but do not intend to engage, love and serve this human person, then we have wasted quarantine.
This time is a gift – even though it is hard to see. God knows, I have battled my own bouts of depression with regard to the loneliness and mundanity of these weeks. I want to see my parishioners in the pews and (gasp!) hug them. It’s okay not to be okay with this. But that feeling of not being okay should inspire in us a desire to be more engaged and proactive in bringing our faith to the forefront.
By all means, pick up that book you want to read. Learn a new skill. Practice a favorite hobby. These are all opportunities that we have. But also pray. Set up a home altar. Speak with your family about Jesus and his love for us in the Scriptures.
Drink plenty of water; get some exercise; take breaks; and watch a movie.
Might I suggest one?