In paragraph one of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we read: “God, infinitely perfect and blessed in Himself, in a plan of sheer goodness, freely created man to make him share in His own blessed life.”
That sentence fills me with such joy and truly gets to the heart of our Lord. I have read many excerpts from the Catechism, but I had never read that line, nor had I read or thought about the Catechism with the excitement I’ve approached it with over the past two weeks.
Why is now different? It’s different because of Fr. Mike Schmitz—a dynamic priest from the diocese of Duluth, Minnesota, and chaplain at the Newman Center at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
In 2021, Ascension created the Bible in a Year podcast, in which Fr. Mike read the entire Bible in one year. Listeners throughout the world heard God’s voice as they had never before heard it. To say that the experience was transformative does not come close to doing it justice.
The Bible in a Year podcast was received better than anyone could have imagined, as it reached the number one position in global podcasts in Religion & Spirituality (Chartable) for 2022 and the number one position in Religion & Spirituality (Apple Podcasts) for 2021-2022. Stories abound of people converting, lukewarm Catholics becoming on fire for Christ, and others returning to the Church.
So naturally I was excited when Ascension announced that they and Fr. Mike would begin a new endeavor starting January 1, 2023—the Catechism in a Year podcast.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a one-volume work that summarizes Church teaching. Divided into four parts—what we believe, how we worship, how we live, and how we pray—the Catechism was completed in 1992 under the direction of St. John Paul II. Second only to the Bible, this book is a critical tool for helping us understand our faith. And for at least the first 12 days, the podcast kept the number one spot in all categories on Apple’s podcast chart. As Fr. Mike would say, “What a gift!”
Though it’s been less than two weeks since the podcast began, I am blown away by the beauty of the Catechism. Every day, the podcast begins with Fr. Mike welcoming us to the podcast, “where we encounter God’s plan of sheer goodness for us revealed in scripture and passed down through the tradition of the Catholic faith.” He then says a prayer, reads from the Catechism, and discusses what he has read. It’s truly an illuminating experience and one that will undoubtedly help millions of people grow closer to God and deepen their faith.
With churches under attack, beliefs scoffed at, and wokeness loudly triumphing, I can think of no better experience for us at this time in our society. As a Church and as a faithful people, we desperately need this. And as Fr. Mike says, the podcast is not just for Catholics; it’s for anyone who wants to understand the beauty of God and His Church.
As faithful sons and daughters of God, we know that He created us in His image. We know about the first sin. We know that in His resurrection Christ triumphed over evil and death. And we know that we are sinners and that we push God away sometimes. But we don’t always take the time to think about His immense love for us. We don’t always listen to the rich history of the Church, to the promises of Scripture, or to the voices of Church fathers. Now is our chance.
Just as earthly relationships take work, so does our relationship with God. We cannot expect our bond with Him to grow if the only time we spend with Him is in Mass on Sundays. What would happen to our relationship with our spouses or our children if we were to give them only one hour a week? Imagine how rejected they would feel. God feels this rejection too, and He wants more than just one hour of our week.
The Catechism in a Year podcast is our opportunity to grow closer to God than we have ever been and to listen intently to His words as we grow in understanding of Church tradition. The words in which God and the Church speak to us are so incredibly beautiful that it’s difficult to express just how special this podcast is. In it, we hear teachings such as this one about the dogmas of the faith: “Dogmas are lights along the path of faith; they illuminate it and make it secure. Conversely, if our life is upright, our intellect and heart will be open to welcome the light shed by the dogmas of faith.”
As we ponder this, we will realize that this is what we are meant to do—to use our intellect to know, love, and serve God; to grow as faithful men and women; and to grow in understanding so that we can then evangelize to others.
During one of the episodes, Fr. Mike said, “If we just show up, keep listening, keep pressing play, keep being faithful, we know that the Lord Himself is faithful. He’s going to do something through this journey.”
Though it’s been just two weeks, I can already feel that God has done something remarkable through Fr. Mike Schmitz.
The greatest gift ever given to the world has been Jesus Christ. Let us get to know Him by listening to His words and His teachings and then joyfully proclaiming this good news to others.
It is never too late to begin this podcast. You can start now and listen at your own pace. To get the Catechism in a Year reading plan, visit the Ascension website. And then simply search for Catechism in a Year and press play on your favorite podcast app.