The Fr. Mike Schmitz Catholic Podcast
About this podcast
Faith, pop culture, and headline reflections from Fr. Mike Schmitz.
About this podcast
Faith, pop culture, and headline reflections from Fr. Mike Schmitz.
The Fr. Mike Schmitz Catholic Podcast
The Key to a Happy Death
The key to a happy death is not a long and fulfilled life—it’s a life of gratitude for the time given. Here’s why: We often forget that this life isn’t owed to us. Every breath we take is a gift from God, who is holding us in existence at this very moment. Once we start to think that this life is owed to us, that in some way we deserve it, we will become ungrateful for the time that is given, even if we’ve lived a long and happy life. Today, Father Mike explains how to fill your life with gratitude, and how that will prepare you for a happy death.
When You Have to Go It Alone
The Wednesday of Holy Week is known to many as “Spy Wednesday”, but it’s also known as the “Day of Aloneness.” The backstory behind this moniker can have a profound impact on the way we live our lives. There are two people in the Holy Week narrative that experience profound loneliness: Jesus and Judas. There’s an honorable form of aloneness that we feel when we’re doing something we ought to be doing (walking a road that no one else can), but there’s also a sadder form of loneliness that exists when we are doing something we shouldn’t be doing. Today, Father Mike explains the difference between the aloneness Jesus felt during Holy Week, and what Judas felt. Ascension is proud to partner with authentically Catholic institutions and organizations committed to spreading the Gospel. Learn more about the sponsor of this video, Ave Maria University: https://tinyurl.com/yhbzmjsy
Pray Like Jesus Prayed This Holy Week
During Holy Week, as we contemplate the last hours of Jesus’ life, we get an intimate look at how Jesus prays to his Father. Starting with our Lord’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, we hear Jesus talking to God the Father about the upcoming moments of his life. He continues to pray through his Passion all the way until his last breath—a model that we as sons and daughters of God can follow as well. But what does Jesus show us about what it means to truly pray “Abba, Father”? Ascension is proud to partner with authentically Catholic institutions and organizations committed to spreading the Gospel. Learn more about the sponsor of this episode, Ave Maria University. (https://tinyurl.com/yc67p3cj)
Turn Your “No, But” into a “Yes, And”
When was the last time you said “yes” to God? In improv, there’s a practice where participants are encouraged to never respond with “no, but” and to instead offer a “yes, and...” This allows for not only growth in the scene but in the actors as well. Similarly, God is always offering us different “scenes” to get us to sainthood. How are we responding? Turning our “no, but” into a “yes, and” opens our life to Christ’s will, and is the quickest path to sanctification. Today, Fr. Mike explains how we can practice a better relationship with God by just saying “yes, and...” Ascension is proud to partner with authentically Catholic institutions and organizations committed to spreading the Gospel. Learn more about the sponsor of this episode, Ave Maria University. (https://tinyurl.com/yc67p3cj)
Blaming vs. Taking Responsibility
“Blame keeps us stuck...Taking responsibility gives us the opportunity to move forward.” In our difficult, fallen world, we are bound to face struggle. Sometimes our natural response to that struggle is to blame other things or people for why it’s happening—even to blame ourselves. While this makes us feel temporarily better because we are justifying our hardship, it also negates the truth of why we experience struggle—and the graces that can come from it. Today, Fr. Mike explains why it’s always better to take responsibility instead of playing the blame game. Ascension is proud to partner with authentically Catholic institutions and organizations committed to spreading the Gospel. Learn more about the sponsor of this episode, Ave Maria University. (https://tinyurl.com/yc67p3cj)
Why Did God Take On Our Humanity?
Every Christmas we celebrate the fact that Jesus took on our humanity and became one of us. But have we ever asked the question why? Why the Incarnation? You’re definitely not the first to ask this question, and it’s a valid question. Why would God, an all infinite, perfect, and perfectly whole being come to earth to live as a human, and even die a horrible death on the cross? There is nothing he lacks, nothing he doesn’t know, and nothing he needs from us. So, why did he become man? Fr. Mike aims to answer this question today. Ascension is proud to partner with authentically Catholic institutions and organizations committed to spreading the Gospel. Learn more about the sponsor of this episode, Ave Maria University. (https://tinyurl.com/yc67p3cj)
Does God Need Us to Worship Him?
God is an infinite, perfect, communion of persons, responsible for the intentional creation of everything around us - which begs the question, if God is perfect, why does he need us to worship him? Well, he actually doesn’t. God doesn’t need us to worship him because there is nothing he lacks. Which leads to another question: why do we worship God if he doesn’t need us to? Fr. Mike answers this today, drawing from the earliest books of the Bible. Ascension is proud to partner with authentically Catholic institutions and organizations committed to spreading the Gospel. Learn more about the sponsor of this episode, Ave Maria University. (https://tinyurl.com/yc67p3cj)
Setting Boundaries for Yourself and Others
We often receive the behavior we are willing to tolerate, but what does that mean for our daily interactions? Communication is the clearest way to let someone know how you are feeling. When meeting with someone who you feel is being rude, we may try to give outward signs of our discomfort, but we can’t guarantee they’ll understand unless we tell them directly. And obviously, this isn’t easy. There aren’t many people who love confrontation, and even some that do anything they can to avoid it. We’re always so afraid that if we bring up something that we want changed, or share something that’s hurting us, that we’ll destroy that relationship. But more times than not, confronting these things head on and setting these boundaries won’t hurt the relationship but will strengthen it. This isn’t just relevant for our relationships with other people either - it’s relevant to our relationship with ourselves. How many times have we made personal goals or aspirations but never changed our behaviors to make them possible? We get the behaviors that we’re willing to tolerate, even within ourselves. St. Ignatius of Loyala had an exercise where he would imagine two sides, the side of the evil one and the side of the Lord. In this exercise, he would look at his decisions and choices for his life and decide, based on which side they fell on, who he would ultimately join: the evil one, or the Lord. By birth we belong to the evil one, but by baptism we belong to the Lord. Each side is battling for us to come over to their side, and if we are striving to be on the Lord’s side, then we have to recognize boundaries for ourselves that we can’t tolerate. This battle does not need to be fought alone—in fact, it can’t be. We must rely on the infinite grace of God, which he is longing to give us every second of our day. What are the behaviors we need to remove from our lives for the glory of God? Ascension is proud to partner with authentically Catholic institutions and organizations committed to spreading the Gospel. Learn more about the sponsor of this episode, Ave Maria University. (https://tinyurl.com/yc67p3cj)
Why Love Is More than a Feeling
What if we were to make all our decisions solely based on how we felt in the moment? You may be familiar with the four types of love: eros (love of desire), storge (love of affection), philia (love of friendship), and agape (self-giving love). While each of these forms of love are good in their own way, they have to be accounted for correctly. Eros is the most temporary of all the loves. Feelings and desires are fleeting. So when we try and make decisions that are based on these desires we have, they’re bound to fail before we even make them, just because eros is so fragile. Imagine choosing your spouse, or your vocation, or your profession based on how you felt about it 5 years ago. Would you be happy with the outcome? Eros has its place in our life, but we need to make sure we’re acknowledging the more important elements, especially when making decisions. Eros is fleeting, but the agape love God has for you isn’t. Focus on the things that last, and attend to the feelings that don’t, and enjoy the life God has laid before you.
A Martyr for the Faith vs. a Victim of Circumstance
What’s the difference between a victim and a martyr? A victim is always described as dying “of” or “from” something. But when you describe a martyr, you talk about what they died for. While a victim is hurt by something, a martyr is suffers for something or someone. While a victim is having something happen to them, a martyr is choosing what happens to them by their will. “...I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” (John 10:17-18) The word martyr comes from the Greek word for witness. So when we see Jesus in Acts 1 telling his disciples that they are called to be witnesses of the faith, he is also calling them to martyrdom for the sake of spreading the Gospel. The apostles were not victims—they were martyrs, because they lived their lives for Christ until death. This turns their death into the fulfillment of their lives—the crowning achievement—instead of something that defeated them. While not all of us may be asked to lay down our lives for Christ at our death, we are all called to live our lives for the faith.
Learning Detachment from Your Stuff
Sometimes the things that we own end up owning us. Detachment prevents this from happening. You may have heard of the minimalist movement that focuses on only having the things you need, and letting go of the things you don’t. Most people practice this by decluttering their house or storage, like you would if you were cleaning out a closet. But it’s not so much having a lot of stuff that’s the problem: it’s being attached to those things, and letting them have a sense of control over your life. This can happen with anything we own, from entertainment resources like books or video games, to things like photos, letters from family and friends, or even notes from your favorite theology course. For some reason, our hearts hold on to certain things, even if we haven’t looked at them in years, just in case we need them someday. Maybe it’s because of sentimental value, or because we find joy in them, but most of the time, we keep these things for a sense of security. There’s nothing wrong with having things, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with finding joy in the things we do have. But if there are things sitting on our shelves, collecting dust because we’re keeping them “just in case,” maybe the question we need to ask ourselves is, “what does God want me to do with this?” Does he want us to keep it and use it, or give it away to someone who needs it, or just throw it away? But the important thing to remember is that everything we have should be looked at with the idea that we can do something good with it, and intend to use it for the glory of God. If you still have use for it, then keep it. If it’s done all it can for you, and has more goodness for someone else, then give it away. And if all its goodness is used up, then toss it. But whatever we have, we need to give it to God, acknowledging that he gave it to us in the first place. Letting him decide what we do with the things we own is the perfect way to not only detach ourselves from our possessions, but to gain more freedom in our lives to bless others.
How to Keep Your Faith Alive and Growing
Why is it easier to fuel our faith at retreats and conferences? Can we have this same fire at home? You can probably reflect on a certain moment or time period in your life that your faith seemed to flourish more than it ever has. Usually this happens when we go on retreats, mission trips, or faith conferences. But along with these moments of powerful formation comes the decline we experience when they’re over, and we go back home. Why is that? Retreats offer us an opportunity to encounter our faith away from the distractions of the world. They are designed to make faith the center of our attention, which makes fueling our faith much easier. However, a lot of us don’t have that environment when we go home, and it can be really difficult to continue to keep that fire alive, especially when we live in a world that is constantly trying to extinguish it. It comes down to our personal decisions, and how we choose to live. If we know that avoiding certain distractions, relationships, or environments help us grow closer to God, then it’s up to us to make those changes. It’s much easier to bring someone down than to lift someone up. The world won’t bring us into a deeper relationship with Christ—we have to make those choices ourselves. Now, this might mean that we have to say goodbye to some aspects of our life, or even some people. It’s important to approach all these decisions with prayer and guidance from the Lord. He knows what you need better than anyone else in your life, so seek council knowing he will only allow what’s best for you in your path towards heaven. Try asking the Lord each day how you can become closer to him, and seek out ways to let your faith breath.
Are You Called to Be a Missionary?
Are you called to be a missionary? You may be one already! Saint Francis Xavier and Saint Therese of Lisieux are co-patrons of missionaries, although they lived very different lives. While St. Francis traveled all over the world proclaiming the gospel of Christ, St. Therese was unable to travel and did what she could in her own town. Both were missionaries in their own right. Being a missionary isn’t about traveling or living a crazy and unpredictable life. It’s about spreading the word of God to those who need to hear it. So the question is, are you called to be a missionary? As baptized Christians, we are all called to be missionaries in our own unique way. By living the life God has laid out for us, we can evangelize exactly who God wants us to reach, just by doing our best to live according to his commandments. This is also a part of the universal call to holiness, which not only states that every person is called to be a saint, but also that every person is called to be an apostle—or missionary—of Christ. St. Francis Xavier lived in a Christian era, and had to leave his home in order to evangelize. We, however, live in a post-Christian era, where the majority of people are not God loving people. The era we are living in right now holds the same kind of ignorance of Christ that the apostles lived in. This means that we don’t have to go anywhere to evangelize. We can start being missionaries right in our own home towns. St. Francis and St. Therese weren’t missionaries because of where they went—they were missionaries because of their hearts. There are so many people in our daily lives that don’t know God. Let us live out our call as missionaries and bring Christ to those God has given us.
“Is This a Sin?”
If you begin to sin but don’t follow all the way through… is it still a sin? It depends. We’re offered two different scenarios. In one, the person is prevented from sinning due to external factors that make it impractical or impossible to commit the sin they had planned on. In the second scenario, we see someone preparing to sin, but then freely and rationally choosing not to. The first scenario is a sin, but the second is a virtuous act. Why? Because the second person freely decided not to commit sin, they morally aligned themselves toward the good when they had previously been aimed towards sin. They redirected their will toward God when they could have continued to go against him. In a simpler sense, they were headed down a bad path, but then turned around before making it to their destination. That being said, while the second person did realign themselves toward virtue, the extent to which they consented to this sin ahead of time may be worth a confession. Even though the person chose virtue in the end, their soul was still burdened with those thoughts, and in confession, those burdens are lifted through forgiveness. The beautiful part about our faith is that we have a Savior who is always ready and willing to forgive us. Surrendering our hearts to him creates a living relationship with God, where we trust his knowledge of our hearts, and run to him whenever we are in need of saving.
What It Truly Means to Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin
What do you think of when you hear the phrase, “Love the sinner, hate the sin”? To some, maybe it’s something that their parents would say to them when they heard them gossiping. Maybe it’s something you were taught in school, or maybe it’s a phrase you’ve mocked or not taken seriously. But this phrase is synonymous with one of the greatest commandments Jesus gave us: to love our neighbor as ourselves. Here’s where the connection comes in: We are all sinners. We are all sinners, yet we want the best for ourselves, and we love ourselves enough to want good things for our lives. Just as we want good things for ourselves despite our sinfulness, we should want the best for our brothers and sisters despite their sinfulness. Sin plagues every human heart. While some may struggle more than others, we are all tempted on a daily basis to turn away from God. To love the sinner and hate the sin is to acknowledge that our brother or sister is constantly being pursued by God. In order to love the sinner, we must love ourselves enough to strive for a better relationship with God. How we view sin starts with how we view our own struggles, and if we are constantly getting down on ourselves about falling into temptation, that attitude will transfer to our brothers and sisters who need our support. To love the sinner and hate the sin—and to love our neighbors as ourselves—we have to be real about what sin is. No one is so far gone that God cannot reach them. He’s pursuing their hearts constantly, and every little victory counts in their walk toward eternity. God is so patient with us. Let’s glorify him and imitate him by being patient with one another— and with ourselves.
Struggle Is Necessary
It may sound counterintuitive, but choosing the harder path may make our life easier. Here’s why: When caterpillars go into their cocoons for hibernation, they struggle against the barrier of the cocoon for months on end, trying to get out. It’s only when their wings have developed and they’re strong enough to fly that they are able to break free and escape. If a caterpillar were to somehow get set free from its cocoon before it was strong enough to escape on its own, it wouldn’t be able to fly, and would eventually die. The same is true in a way for us. When we face struggles in life, they have great potential to make us stronger. Not only do hard things make us stronger, but they prepare us more for harder temptations, trials, and suffering in the future. In a way, we are made more able to handle future struggles because of the little hard choices we make daily. Some struggles are greater than others, and maybe there are some things that you are constantly trying to avoid because they are so hard for you to do. But nevertheless, these are the struggles that you are faced with. These are the things God wants to make you stronger through. Because he knows what you need to continue on your path, and he knows that these struggles are not only going to make you stronger, but will intensify the victories he has prepared for you. There are some things that come from struggle that are so much more glorious than a scare-free life, and the Lord is ready to show you what triumphs he has in store for you.
If You Think This Year Was Supposed to Be Different
We might have had different plans for this year, but were they really supposed to happen? We all wonder whether we’re actually following God’s will for us, but the reality is that, unless we are directly going against the Lord in some way, we are doing his will by just living our life. Wherever this year has taken us, whatever it has us doing, is exactly where God wants us to be. This is one of the joys of being a faithful Christian: as long as we are following the laws of the Lord, we can never be outside his will. This is true even today, as everything we thought we knew about this year was turned on its head. We may have had radically different plans and expectations for where we’d be now, or what we’d be doing, but it wasn’t the will of God. God has us exactly where he wants us, and as long as we remain faithful to him, we’ll follow the path that he’s paved for our lives. So, what if we’re not following the Lord? This is what the call of repentance is all about: if we’re not following the Lord, then we get to change the course of our lives and turn toward him through confession and penance. And you know when a perfect time for this is? Christmas! Because of Christmas, our lives don’t have to be a lost cause, or a dead end. Because God gave his only begotten son to us, we can turn our lives around and aim them at the light of Christ. It’s through the incarnation that eternal life with God became a possibility, and that repentance was born. Because Christ came to earth, we can use our lives to follow the will of God, even after steering off course. We now have a future, through the power of our Father’s love.
The Most Important Part of Any Conversation
It’s those last five minutes of conversation with someone that makes them feel like a number or like a known and loved individual. We’ve all had conversations that makes us feel like the other person doesn’t really care to be talking to us. But we’ve also had conversations that stick with us because the person we talked to made us feel so loved that we can’t help but be uplifted by them. This is what those last five minutes are all about: making the other person feel wanted, known, and loved. This is true of any relationship; even our relationship with God, in prayer. How are we spending those last five minutes of prayer? Are we letting our minds drift to other things, or are we giving God our full attention? Jesus gave so much during his time on Earth. Just as he continually gave his time to those around him, we are called to do the same. Use the last five minutes with anyone you’re talking to—including God—to show them what they mean to you and to make them feel worth paying attention to.
Answering Your Questions About Mary and Her Immaculate Conception
Truly loving Mary will never lessen our faith in God, or take attention away from Christ. Here’s why: The Church has 4 dogmas regarding our Blessed Mother. They are… Jesus gave Mary to all of us as our Mother during his crucifixion Mary was immaculately conceived without original sin Mary was assumed into Heaven after the resurrection of Christ Mary was a virgin before, during, and after the birth of Christ Today’s video is focusing on the second dogma dealing with Mary’s immaculate conception. It’s Mary’s preservation of soul that made it possible for Christ to be conceived in her through the Holy Spirit. So if Mary was able to be saved from original sin, why wasn’t I? The answer is simple: everyone has a role to play in the plan of God, but our role is different from Mary’s. God gives us everything we need to accomplish the role he’s entrusted to us. We are all born with specific and unique gifts, talents, and graces that make us who we are. There may be a lot of different things that we want to do, and maybe we’ve already done some of those things, but there are specific things we were made to do. The immaculate conception not only shows us the love God has for our salvation and our lives, but it also shows that he will give us everything we need to do the things we were called to do: the very purpose for our existence. If God could immaculately conceive Mary without original sin in the womb of Saint Anne, think about how many graces he can bestow upon us! This feast day is an opportunity to glorify God and thank him for all he has given us, and all he gave Mary so she could answer the call of Blessed Mother. The more we learn about and love her, the more we see the beauty and intentionality of Christ in our lives.
When You Don’t Understand the Bible
Oftentimes in Christian media we see what Fr. Mike dubs a “Hallmark” version of following Christ. There’s struggle and hardship, but then God’s grace comes in and cures everything, making everything nearly perfect for the characters in the story. While these types of stories make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, they’re not very realistic. And while God’s grace is essential, it’s not a magic wand that makes everything bad go away. There are some stories in the Bible that at first glance appear dark, difficult, or just don’t make sense. Even some of the things Christ says to his followers can sound harsh or even scandalous at times. But it’s in these moments of confusion and concern that God wants to teach us something. This was something that St. Augustine struggled with before his conversion. It wasn’t until after he had accepted the faith and began to intentionally practice it that he realized it’s not God’s word that’s wrong, it's our interpretation of it. He gives us 7 things to do when trying to understand a passage we’re unsure of: Read the text in the original language. Or, if you’re not a scholar of Greek or Latin (more than likely), at least realize that a lot can be lost in translation, like idioms and turns of phrase, or context and foreign references. Try different biblical translations and see how they compare. Weigh what you’re reading with all of scripture (it’s ALL connected!) Be humble and accept that you don’t know everything needed to fully understand God’s word (and that’s okay). Sacred tradition always trumps our own interpretations. Don't take figurative language literally. Don’t universalize a parable to be relevant for all situations in life. The Bible wasn’t written by Hallmark. It was inspired by God. Hallmark is meant to help you escape reality. The Bible is meant to help you get back in touch with reality. There’s going to be brokenness, and sin, and unhappy endings, but there will also be real grace that transforms those hardships into strength, and it has the power to change your life.