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The Fr. Mike Schmitz Catholic Podcast

The Fr. Mike Schmitz Catholic Podcast

Faith, pop culture, and headline reflections from Fr. Mike Schmitz.


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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. (
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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. (
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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. 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. (
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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?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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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The Absolute Necessity of Saying "Thank You"

When was the last time you told God ?thank you?? We live in an extremely hectic world, full of distractions, complaining, and longing for things we don?t have. And while it can be good to look at the things we do have and count up our blessings, how often do we then turn to God and thank him for those gifts? God is the reason we have anything in this life. Even our very existence day-to-day is a gift. There?s nothing better than thankfulness?and nothing worse than unthankfulness. We can all point out moments in our lives where we failed to be thankful, and it often leads to general feelings of unhappiness. So how do we stop feeling this way? How do we practice thankfulness more? There?s a simple solution: every morning and evening, ask the Holy Spirit to help you count your blessings, and then thank the Lord for all those gifts. St. Paul echoes this in his letter to the Thessalonians, saying that we should give thanks in everything we have and everything we are able to do. It?s what we are called to do as Christians, and it?s how we can reverence God and all he?s given us every day. The person who continually gives thanks is a person who is seeking God?s plan in their life. And one of the greatest gifts that comes from this attitude of gratitude is that every day becomes an opportunity to use those blessings. The celebration of the Mass is a very specific way we can express this gratitude towards God. The word Eucharist literally means ?thanksgiving?! It?s in the Mass that we profess our love for Christ?s sacrifice, and thank him by performing a like sacrifice with the body and blood. We can go to Mass every day, and we can give thanks every day. And the beautiful thing about gratitude is that, the more we practice it, the more God will reveal blessings around us. Do you seek authentic joy for the life you?re living? Practice thanksgiving towards God.
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Let Yourself Wrestle with God

Have you ever felt like God really wanted you to do something, but you just weren?t ready for it? Maybe it?s a big life change, a relationship, or a vocation, but there?s something holding you back from saying yes to God?s call. People may be inclined to think that this is a bad thing, and might put themselves down, saying they aren?t open to God?s will in their lives. But what if this back-and-forth with God is the one thing we need to really say yes? When we wrestle with God, we?re not only engaging in relationship with him, but we?re being truly honest with him. He desires conversation with us, and it?s in wrestling with what God wants for our lives that we conform our hearts to his. We may think we know God?s vocation for us, or his plan for our life, and that may scare us. But the truth is, we will never really be sure what God wants us to do until he really shows us. We can project sometimes. Right now, all he wants us to do is be his: to dedicate ourselves and our lives to him and his works, and to live every day as an opportunity to reach holiness. Don?t pick a fight with God, thinking we know what he may want us to do someday. But don?t be afraid to wrestle with him today, because it can give us the strength and understanding needed to do his will.
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Living Life Through the Lens of Scripture

We all see the world through our own lens. The media we partake of?the news we read, the podcasts we listen to, the videos we watch?shapes that lens. But Fr. Mike says there?s one thing that should be shaping our lens more than anything else: scripture. Fr. Mike has read The Fulfillment of All Desire by Ralph Martin many times, and one point that Mr. Martin makes that has stuck with Fr. Mike is that every saint had a Biblical worldview. The lens through which they saw the world was the Bible, and that changed everything. We read, watch, and listen to a lot of things. But what are those books, articles, shows, and podcasts leaving us with? How are they shaping us? Fr. Mike makes sure to only spend time with media that will give him insight, media that?s worth his time. But more and more, perhaps like you, he?s been yearning for more of a Biblical worldview, and that seems to be scarce. That?s when Father decided to make the change he wanted to see. In the Bible in a Year podcast, Fr. Mike Schmitz walks you through the entire Bible in 365 episodes, providing commentary, reflection, and prayer along the way. Unlike any other Bible podcast, Ascension?s Bible in a Year Podcast follows a reading plan inspired by The Great Adventure Bible Timeline, a ground-breaking approach to understanding salvation history developed by renowned Catholic Bible teacher Jeff Cavins. With this podcast, you won?t just read the Bible in a year ? you?ll finally understand how all the pieces of the Bible fit together to tell an amazing story that continues in your life today! The more you read the Bible, the more you realize that the story of salvation is your story. As the author of Ecclesiastes reminds us, ?there is nothing new under the sun.? The rise and fall of kings, the struggle between good and evil, the fight to be faithful in a broken world. The deeper you dive, the more familiar you?ll find it. This is the perspective that the saints had: a Biblical worldview. You can sign up to get updates on the podcast as the release date approaches (January 1st, 2021) as well as download the reading plan so that you can follow along ( If you don?t already have The Great Adventure Bible, you can get one at Ascension ( so that you?re reading the same translation as Fr. Mike. It?s also the only Bible with The Great Adventure Bible Timeline built in?the same system that Father will be using for the podcast. If you prefer to read in Spanish, Ascension just released The Great Adventure Bible en Español as well ( You can find The Bible in a Year (with Fr. Mike Schmitz) on Apple Podcasts (, Spotify (, or anywhere else you listen to podcasts. God bless you!
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The Virtue That Takes Virtue to the Next Level

Fr. Mike introduces us to the virtue that makes other virtues excellent: magnanimity. If someone asked you what the most essential virtues are, you might say humility, faith, hope, or love. But have you ever heard of the virtue of magnanimity? What this virtue does is it magnifies?or makes greater?other virtues within someone. In other words, it?s to strive for excellence. This is not to be confused with the vice of pride, which relies on the gifts of oneself without acknowledging any help that may come from another person or even God. Instead, a magnanimous person sees the gifts God has given them and chooses to emphasize them in their life as a way to honor him. Consequently, every saint must be magnanimous; they must be great for the Lord. Even saints who have the most different and opposite lifestyles become one in the same, purely through their desire to be excellent, not for the sake of themselves, but as a ?thank you? to the Lord. One way to strive for magnanimity is to avoid the temptation to it?s opposing vice, which is pusillanimity. Pusillanimity is the direct opposite of magnanimity: it?s to shy away from the gifts God has given you, out of timidity. This is different from humility, because where humility is acknowledging that your gifts are not your own, pusillanimity is refraining from using those gifts in the first place. By embracing the gifts God has given us and using them to glorify him, we are being magnanimous. It doesn?t matter what stage of life you?re in, how old you are, or what your gifts consist of. All of us have the opportunity to be magnanimous, and all of us have the opportunity to be saints.
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Regret vs. Repentance

Fr. Mike talks about how to regret things we?ve done without staying stuck in the past. Have you ever heard the saying ?don?t regret the past, because it?s made you into the person you are today?? Maybe you?ve heard something similar to that, and while there?s truth to this saying, there?s also something that we as Christians should be aware of. Sometimes we make mistakes. We do things we wished we hadn?t. Sometimes, we hurt those we love in the process. We never want to live in the past?burdened by the mistakes we?ve made?but it?s safe to say that all of us have done things that didn?t make us the people God wants us to be. There?s a difference between regret and repentance, and it can be best seen when comparing St. Peter to Judas. Both men sinned gravely against the Lord: Peter denying him during the time of his Passion and Judas delivered him to crucifixion. The difference is, where Peter regretted his sins and repented, Judas let his sin consume him. It?s okay to regret the things we?ve done in the past that took us away from the path of God, but we can?t dwell in this regret. Instead, we have to do something about it. We have to repent. Repentance is what gives us the strength to forgive ourselves and continue striving for the kingdom of Heaven. When we repent, we surrender ourselves and our mistakes to the Lord, and then he can use those mistakes to glorify our lives. God can use everything?even our worst sins?for our path towards eternity. Nothing given to God is ever wasted.
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Why Married Couples Must Be Open to Children

Do you have any ?expectations? when you think about marriage? A lot of us probably think of marriage as broadly the same thing: two people coming together in love to spend the rest of their lives together. But when we start to dive into the specifics of that idea, it?s important to recognize what expectations are of the world, and which are of God. One of these expectations could be the willingness to have kids. The Church teaches, however, that in the case of sacramental marriage, it is asked and even expected of the couple that they be open to life throughout their marriage. This is why the priest performing the ceremony and marriage prep asks the couple if they are freely, fruitfully, fully, and faithfully entering the sacrament with their spouse. Unfortunately, our world often tells us that marriage doesn?t need to be open to life. People will even sometimes say it?s selfish and reckless to bring children into a world that is so broken. But the truth of the matter is that a marriage can?t be sacramental without an openness to life, and that?s a big deal. Children are the purpose of marriage. It?s the one relationship where people have kids. Now, of course, people have sex outside of marriage that could result in kids, but we recognize that the act of sex is best placed in the context of a commited, lifelong relationship, such as marriage. Because of this, an openness to children must be present in a relationship for that couple to pursue a sacramental marriage. It?s a gift of self to another, ordered towards the procreation and education of children. Now, what about couples who can?t have kids, or are past the age of childbearing? Those marriages are no less sacramental than the ones that have children, so long as they?re still open to the procreation of children. It?s the orientation towards the task of procreation that?s important, not the achievement of it. Bottom line is, sacramental marriage is a gift of self towards another, totally, fruitfully, fully, and faithfully. Without an openness to life and the procreation of children, this gift of self is not full, and therefore does not hold the ability to be a sacrament of God. It?s an essential part of God?s plan for romantic intimacy, and must be separated from whatever ?expectations? the world may have for marriage.
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Why You Can?t Put Your Faith in People

Have you ever been shaken by a scandal in the Church? It?s hard not to have been, especially amidst scandals on a major scale or ones involving people we?ve looked up to and loved. When these things come to light, it?s common for people to start to blame the Church, and?sometimes?to leave their faith. If we feel the need to reexamine our belief in God and the Church because of something someone else did, maybe our faith should have been in God and not a person who?s broken just like us. We?re incredibly blessed to have such a vast community of Christian believers in our world who strive towards the way of Christ and in many ways dedicate their lives to the service of others. But just because they?re followers of Christ doesn?t mean they?re perfect. As humans we have a natural inclination towards sin that we?ve inherited from the first sin of Adam. And it?s important that we see this for what it is, because if we put our faith in anyone other than our Creator, we put our faith in someone that can?t satisfy our hearts. Let?s ask God to help us build a stronger relationship with him so that always look to the foundation of the Church and the faithfulness of God instead of putting our hope in the ways of man.
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Why Are We So Divided Right Now?

Is it just us, or does the world seem a bit divided right now? Human beings were not only created with a unique purpose, but also created to live in community. However, there are two things that can disrupt this call: division and distraction. Why these two? Well, distractions are things that take us away from a given task or goal, taking us away from living with a purpose. Likewise, division takes away from living in community with those around us. The twentieth century brought with it innumerable inventions of distraction: things like television, radio, computers, etc. All of these products are great innovations that have moved us forward in our abilities to create community and showcase our unique strengths, but they?ve also put distraction at our fingertips. It?s not just technology that has caused distractions either. We can become distracted by virtually anything: chores, work, leisurely activities. But when we?re distracted, we?re held back from the task at hand, and the ongoing task for all of us is to live in community, and live with purpose. What does that mean for something like politics? Well, if you?re American, you basically have two political responsibilities as an American citizen: educate yourself well on the politics in your country, and vote whenever elections come around. Anything other than those two tasks are distractions from the purpose of politics. When it comes to division, our country has definitely had its fair share. So how do we fight against this division that seems to be splitting our country? Through conversation and through kindness. We?re called to be united in community with those around us, so much so that Jesus refers to them as our brothers and sisters. Division won?t be conquered easily, but if we?re willing to converse, listen, and treat each other with kindness, we can get a couple strides closer to the community God desires for us.
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Which Is Better? The Rosary vs. The Chaplet

?What if I don?t have time to pray both The Rosary and The Divine Mercy Chaplet?? Deciding how to spend your time in prayer can be difficult, especially when you?re deciding between two powerhouse prayers like The Rosary and The Chaplet. Let?s look at each of them. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy was gifted to Saint Faustina during a vision of Jesus. In this vision, he listed 14 promises ( to those who pray the chaplet. In the chaplet, the prayers revolve around the concepts of mercy and holiness for the whole world, and reflect the prayers and promises we make during the Mass. It?s an extremely powerful prayer for not only our own souls, but the sanctification of the world. On the other hand, we have The Rosary, which is an act of love toward the Mother of Jesus, who was given to us at the crucifixion. This prayer has been recommended countless times by almost every saint who?s ever lived?and by Mary herself in several apparitions! The Rosary is a reflection on not only Mary?s life, but the life and miracles of Jesus as well. It allows us to enter into those moments with Jesus, the apostles, and Mary by way of meditation. So, should we spend time in prayer on The Chaplet?which probably takes about 5-10 minutes?or on The Rosary, which will take maybe 20-30 minutes? Why not both? If you don?t feel like you have enough time for prayer, that?s worth looking into. The reality is, you don?t have to pray The Rosary every day, and you don?t have to pray The Chaplet every day. But why not pray both as much as you can? These prayers are gifts God has given every willing Christian, and they are pathways to Heaven. So why not?
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Is It Ever Okay to Give Up?

You may have seen the movie Rudy. Its eponymous protagonist is a not-so-athletic college football player who spent years taking hits and practicing with his team, only to see a few moments on the field. Those short moments, however, left him with a tremendous feeling of accomplishment and pride, knowing that he committed to something and saw it through, even when it seemed hopeless. The question: is that always the right approach? Maybe if Rudy had dedicated that time to learning something he was naturally better at, he could have become an expert in his field. The choice Rudy made was made out of passion: he loved the game to the point of dedicating his college career to it, and not caring if the outcome wasn?t what he had expected. But what about bigger dreams? The dream of getting married, having kids, getting into a certain religious order, entering into a certain profession? Is there ever a point where you just have to give it up? There are a few things it?s never okay to give up. It?s never okay to give up hope itself. Hope is trust in the Lord extended into the future, knowing that he will always be with you in whatever circumstances you find yourself in. It?s also never okay to give up faith, God?s promises, or life itself. However, it is okay?and sometimes wise?to reevaluate certain outcomes, and realize that maybe it?s time to adjust your expectations. How do you know when to do that? When reality makes it obvious. For Rudy, that might have meant recognizing that he wasn?t going to be a starter on his football team. It?s still okay for him to want to be a part of the team in some way, and maybe get playing time one day, but reality must be acknowledged and accepted in these situations, or else we risk chasing empty expectations. This doesn?t mean you have to give up on your dreams, or that you can?t do anything: it just means you can?t do everything. Maybe your dream is to have a family, but you and your spouse can?t get pregnant. You might not be able to conceive, but you can still adopt, or be a foster parent. Accepting the reality of your current situation means having a dream, realizing it?s place in your life, and then asking, ?Okay God, now what do you want me to do?? The outcome may not be what you had expected or planned, but if it?s with the Lord, it will still be good. And once we accept this reality, we will start to see that the real work is being done in our character, and that?s the power of trying. It may not make you the kind of person you had planned to be, but it will make you the kind of person that God wants you to be.
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The Real Answer to Why God Allows Suffering

Playing a video game called Injustice helps Fr. Mike explain the real answer to why God allows suffering. In Injustice, Superman becomes a totalitarian dictator in his attempt to try and eliminate evil. Batman tries to tell him, in trying to eliminate evil he has ceased to do good, because without the freedom to choose evil, we don?t really have the freedom to choose good either. Couldn?t God do better than Superman though? Couldn?t he just fix everything by bringing us back to the Garden of Eden? Anyone who is a parent knows that doesn?t work because God?s children?us?would just mess up again. So what does God actually do? He doesn?t eliminate evil. He draws close to us in the midst of evil. He suffers a painful death. He descends to the depths of hell. He doesn?t take away suffering. He transforms it and redeems it by entering into it. This led St. Paul to say: ?Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ?s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church? (Colossians 1:24). St. John Paul II said in suffering we receive a sliver of the Cross. Our suffering matters because Christ?s suffering matters and we are his body. All we have to do is tell God to use our suffering. Nothing given to God is ever wasted, so give it to God.
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What It?s Really Like to Be a Catholic Speaker

Many people ask Fr. Mike, ?How do you become a Catholic speaker?? The quick answer is ?Get baptized and start talking.? Of course this implies that you live out the promises of your baptism. When you do that, people will start asking you to give talks about the Faith. At least that?s how it worked out for Fr. Mke. The caveat is that being a Catholic speaker is not all that it seems to be. The Faith is not going to spread throughout the world through someone on a stage with a microphone in hand. Christ will redeem the world through relationships, especially family and friendships. The danger is in thinking that giving talks equals ministry. The Catholic teacher, director of religious education, and volunteer are in the messy relationships that make disciples of Christ one person at a time. We don?t want to become someone who is willing to travel a thousand miles to tell a thousand people about Christ, but isn?t willing to cross one street to tell one person about him. Jesus first reached out to his twelve disciples and built strong relationships with them. Then people started coming to him. When you live an authentic Christian life founded upon a strong relationship with Christ and with others in Christ, people start noticing. You won?t have to aspire to be a Catholic speaker because those who are looking for a leader in the Faith will ask you to be one.
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How to Get Real Friends

How many real friends do you have? Honestly, many people we call friends would probably better qualify as pals or buddies. The first step to getting real friends is to recognize how we are all made to be gifts of love. God is love and we were made in his image. We were also made for community, because God is a community of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Living out this love and community as God does requires availability and vulnerability. By availability we mean ?care-free timelessness?, as Catholic evangelist Matthew Kelly calls it. By vulnerability we mean taking off the mask. This is the really hard part. As a missionary Fr. Mike knows once said, vulnerability is not just transparency. Transparency is letting someone look into the fish bowl. Vulnerability is inviting them into the fishbowl and letting them move things around. How can we all learn to grow in love, community, availability, and vulnerability so we can become real friends to others and live as the image of God in the world?
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If You?re Not Feeling Loved

If you?re not feeling loved by someone you love, take courage in the story of Leah in Genesis. Jacob, Leah?s husband, did not love her. In fact, what?s even worse, he loved her sister, Rachel, instead. Leah named her first three sons out of her hope and desire for her husband to love her, thinking if she bore him sons he would love him. She named her first ?Reuben? which means, ?Look, a son,? saying, ?Now my husband will love me.? She named her second son ?Simeon? which means ?listening? because she felt the Lord heard her prayer for Jacob to love her. She named her third son ?Levi? which means ?joined together? because she believed this time her husband will finally be joined to her. By the time she had her fourth son, she named him Judah, which means ?may God be praised.? She finally stopped trying to make Jacob love her, and instead she let go and let God take over. It?s no coincidence that Jesus would be born from the line of Judah. Some people love people the way they know how to love, and the beloved just doesn?t notice. A father may love her daughter through acts of service rather than words of affirmation or quality time. Others may simply not love you, but that does not mean you?re unlovable. You?re chosen by God for a reason only you can know. Do not wait for someone else to give you the love that God the Father has already given you.
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Freedom from the Fear of Death

Wearing masks, not wearing masks, and all the mixed emotions that have come with the coronavirus reveal that?as a society?we lack freedom from the fear of death. Maybe you know someone who has died from the virus, or someone who lost their livelihood due to the lockdown. Many are wondering when they can safely go out again, or when they can they go back to Mass. In fact, the coronavirus is revealing the fear of not just death, but also the fear of loss, uncertainty, and insecurity. In these strange times, it?s encouraging to remember the one who conquered death. In Hebrews we read: ?Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage? (Hebrews 2:14-15). In a world without Jesus, death ought to be feared because it is a separation from life and everything good. But Christ has transformed life and death. This does not mean suffering and grief simply don?t matter, but in our suffering we have hope that death is not the end. Living life is risky. About eight out of a thousand people die every year, COVID-19 aside ( But the meaning of life is so much more than avoiding death. Frankly, some things are worse than death and some things are more important than our lives on earth. We are called to embrace the risks of life and live in hope ? while still taking reasonable health precautions.
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Believing in a God Who Allows Evil

It may sound foolish to believe in a God who allows evil, tragedy, suffering, and disasters. But God never promised to rid the world of these things. He promised us hope: ?and hope does not disappoint us, because God?s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us? (Romans 5:5). At some point we are going to experience heartbreak, loss, and suffering. Anyone who thought having faith in God would take away those things in life had the wrong idea of who God is. Fr. Mike says he has never been disappointed in God, because he knows what promises God did make. God is faithful. He will never break his promises, but he never promised that you would not experience grief. He did promise that in the midst of the pain he will be there. In being there, he will help you to love the giver of peace more than the gift of peace. Discipleship is a daily cross. God promised trouble, not peace. He encouraged us to take heart in the midst of that trouble, and that?s how we grow stronger and holier. There will be floods and fire and sickness and tragedy. Turn to the one who promised he will be there with you through it all to help carry you through it. When we feel we have been let down by God the most, those are the times when trust in him means the most.
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Why Are Some People So Annoying?

We all have pet peeves. We all get annoyed by things that really don?t matter much, whether it?s someone chewing with their mouth open, or someone whispering the Rosary in an Adoration chapel?which are two things that used to be pet peeves for Fr. Mike. But he learned a better way to deal with annoyances. Why do we get so annoyed by such petty things? It?s because being annoyed is a choice. Fr. Mike tells a quick story about prisoners of war in Vietnam. They were put in a really small cell where they were so close together they had to sleep touching each other. The prisoners came to an agreement that if they were annoyed by something another prisoner does, the one who is annoyed is the one at fault. This helped them rise about their situation. There are four possible choices when you?re annoyed: I can choose to be annoyed. This is not recommended. I can actively choose to rise above the annoyance and grow in patience. I can do something about it and let it move me to positive action. Instead of saying that person annoys me, I can say that person sanctifies me. Next time you get annoyed, try numbers two through four.
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How Certain Is Your Faith?

Is your faith certain enough to stand up against the doubts and different ideas out there? Fr. Mike shares insight about certainty from Dr. Montague Brown, professor of philosophy at St. Anselm College, New Hampshire. Dr. Brown says certainty is intellectual belief based off the evidence. It?s not blind belief. Someone with certainty is not going to change their mind without new objective evidence. Many times people change their mind not because of new evidence, but just because of new people in their lives. They?ve simply been exposed to new behavior. This happens to students in college quite often. Christianity is evidential. It hinges upon an indisputable event, the life and death of Jesus. If you?re from a small town, you may think the way you were raised is just part of your small town?s way of thinking, and that a well-known university in a big city must have a broader, more enlightened way of thinking. But really, the university is just as subject to its way of thinking as the small town is. The culture of a university is just as insulated as that of a small town. Don?t get so caught up in the culture around you that you give in to new ideas without evidence?whether that culture is a university, a new workplace, new friends, new family, or a new city. Let your faith always be backed up by the evidence. Fr. Mike is certain in his belief that Christianity will then always come out on top.
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Who You Are vs. Who You?re Called to Be

Fr. Mike recalls the speed math tests he took in second and third grade. He finished them in decent time, but his cousin?who was in the same class?finished them way faster. In fact, his cousin was the fastest in his class. For some reason this led Fr. Mike to believe he simply wasn?t good at math. When it came to ?speak and spell? though, Fr. Mike did really well. This led him to believe he was really good with words. He was acting under the common belief that someone is either good at something or bad at something. In Carol S. Dweck?s book, Mindset, she speaks of fixed mindsets?like Fr. Mike had? and growth mindsets, which challenge us to grow. Fr. Mike shares the findings of a study that observed two groups of children. The first group was given tests and were told ?You?re really smart? when they finished them. The second group was told ?You really worked hard on that.? When the tests got harder, the first group started giving up, but the latter group doubled down and rose to the challenge. God works with us as if we were in the second group. He sees us for who we are, but approaches us as we could be. Confession is our opportunity to try harder next time. We are called to the struggle, because struggle is growth. The victory is not in never failing, but in getting back up and rising to the challenge.
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How to Share the Gospel (and How Not To)

If you want to know how to share the gospel, it?s important to have the love and courage to not just give answers and corrections, but to ask questions. It is in asking questions from the heart that you convey true interest in the person?s soul, instead of just trying to convince the person you?re right. Fr. Mike tells of a time when a student came to him saying he tries to evangelize, but just gets shut down. He tried to tell his good friend that he shouldn?t be over-drinking, and this just made his friend mad. Fr. Mike told this student, that?s not evangelization. That?s correction. A good friend or pastor, depending on the relationship, may be in a position to offer correction to those they love. But evangelizing is a different conversation. Evangelization is introducing Christ to others. That?s why Fr. Mike suggests asking questions when trying to introduce Christ to someone, because questions are a natural part of two people getting to know each other. If you are being Christ to someone, by asking them questions they are getting to know Christ just as much as you are getting to know them. Furthermore, asking genuine questions establishes a relationship and shows you are interested in where the person is coming from. Also, it?s OK not to know the answers. Sometimes we get caught up in the concept communicated in St. Peter?s words: ?Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence? (1 Peter 3:15). There will be a time for that, but when that time comes the Holy Spirit will give you the words to say (Luke 12:12). Be content with just getting to know the person better first. Also check out Ascension?s parish mission program, The 99: A New System for Evangelization
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Striving vs. Abiding

In the spiritual life, it?s difficult to know whether striving to do God?s will or just abiding in him is better. But why can?t we do both? Fr. Mike tells the story of a perpetually active student athlete. His inability to disengage in doing things and just abide in God was a problem, and he knew it. Fr. Mike advised him, it?s not that abiding is right and striving is wrong. It?s important to do, but it?s important to also know what not to do in order to acquire the goal your living for. There are many reasons why we choose to commit to activities, whether it?s for fear of missing out, liking being needed, needing to be liked. The list goes on. But if I find myself unable to rest, do I have a clear vision of what I really want out of life? Being slightly engaged and not knowing what you?re striving for can be more exhausting than being fully engaged while knowing what you?re striving for. It?s important to know when, where, and how I need rest, to know when to just abide in God, like Mary and not Martha (see Luke 10:38-42). In any given hour, you can be called to strive like Martha in one moment and abide like Mary in the next; to do something one moment and just be in the next. The best thing is when you know you?re doing the right thing and you get to abide in God as well because you know you?re doing his will.
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Finding Balance in Your Walk with Jesus

Rigidity and laxity are difficult obstacles to avoid when trying to find balance in your faith life. When we treat Christianity as a project, that leads to rigidity. When we treat Christianity like a projection, that leads to laxity. If you?re just looking at what Christians are supposed to do and then following those instructions, you?re treating your faith like a project and that?s bound to make you rigid. At the other extreme, if you see Jesus as a softy or a buddy who?s going to look the other way when you do the wrong thing, that?s just your projection of who he is. This mentality is bound to make you lax. How do we escape these two extremes? Here?s an analogy from Fr. Mike. When a pilot gets ready to fly a plane, he has a certain trust that the plane will fly, but he still has to check that everything is working properly before taking off. Also, he still has to check the controls even as he is flying and putting his life in the plane?s hands. There is a symbiotic balance between trust and diligence here. That?s what walking with Jesus should be like. Let?s take Christ seriously. He is infinitely loving. Let?s take grace seriously. God?s grace is infinite. However, it requires application. When you say, ?Jesus, I trust in you? those words should help you not only let go, but also take a leap of faith and faith without works is dead (James 2:17).
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Make Small Sacrifices for a Big Change

Making small sacrifices is not just for Lent, because sacrifices and penance are necessary. As Christ said: ?If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me? (Luke 9:23). And this is true all year long. But when Jesus said to deny yourself, he didn?t mean to always go against what you want. Really. He meant there are things I want that will not make me more like him?a lot of things, actually. So following him often means dying to self by denying myself those things. Mortifications?little deaths to self?make us more like Jesus and can be offered up for the sanctification of the world and others. Mortification can come in many different forms. It?s not always denying yourself something you want. Sometimes it means doing something you don?t want. Sloth or greed can cause us to not do things we should do. Choosing not to be slothful or greedy often means doing something for someone else?and this is a little death to self. Love is the not-so-secret ingredient that helps us die to self. The entire gospel and Jesus? life are about love. He is constantly telling us and showing us how to love one another and God. That?s because when we learn to love, dying to self becomes so much easier since we start living for God and others. Life is hard when we?re selfish, but when we live for love we see what Christ means when he says ?my yoke is easy, and my burden is light? (Matthew 11:30). You may also like No Greater Love: A Biblical Walk Though Christ?s Passion (
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Family: Your Shortcut to Holiness

Fr. Mike explains how being at home with our family is one of God?s favorite ways to make us holy?if we are honest about the areas where we need to grow in our relationships with family members. Fr. Mike has observed that college students often have a profound encounter with Jesus through their college?s Catholic community. They find that they are praying more, receiving the sacraments more, participating in more service opportunities, and so on. Then they get back home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or?in the most recent cases?a lockdown. They realize, in their interactions with their family that they?re not as holy as they thought they were. Why do we struggle to be loving toward those whom we claim to love the most? It?s harder to love family members sometimes because?Fr. Mike explains?you didn?t get to choose this group, and they can make demands on you. It?s easy to be generous when it?s on your own terms. Our relationships with our family can reveal the impatience and lack of generosity inside us?the unedited version of us. Be honest with God and admit that the things you thought you defeated are still somewhere inside you. Surrender these things to Jesus. Don?t be afraid to be vulnerable with your family. They love you. Ask family members where they want you to grow this week. Pursue holiness at home. Like St. Teresa of Calcutta said, find your own Calcutta.
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Special Episode: Reconciling the Body of Christ (with Fr. Josh Johnson)

In today?s special podcast, Fr. Mike Schmitz sits down with Fr. Josh Johnson to discuss racial division in the Church and how Catholics can strive to restore unity in the Body of Christ. Fr. Josh emphasizes that he is not infallible, so it?s okay to disagree with anything he says that doesn?t lead you closer to Christ, but he hopes this conversation bears fruit in your walk with Jesus and within the body of Christ. Many members of the Church want to know what they can do during these turbulent times. Fr. Josh gives four practical pieces of advice: listen to learn, use specific language when speaking with each other, act as one Body in Christ, and join in the suffering of Jesus to make reparation for others? sins. For full shownotes, please go to Special Guest: Fr. Josh Johnson.
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How to Practice the Presence of God

Throughout the Gospels Jesus says, ?Remain in me? or ?abide in me,? which?in simplified terms?means whatever you do, invite Jesus along. Ask him to ?come with.? This is a way to grow in your relationship with him, but it?s also a smart thing to do because, after all, Jesus said: ?I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing? (John 15:5). When we ask someone to ?come with? or ?go with?, as Fr. Mike says they do in Minnesota, we are implying that we enjoy their company and even have a certain kind of love for them. When you love someone, you want them to come with you wherever you go. But ?remain in me? means more than that. It also means gaze upon Jesus, not just at his face in a religious icon?though that could help?but gaze upon him with the interior gaze of the heart. Be aware that he is present. This shouldn?t be burdensome. It?s simple. Spending time with one you love is as easy as doing nothing. Thirdly, remaining in Christ means to speak to him. Tell him your dreams and desires. Ask him what he wills. When you do this keep in mind, the Lord is free. He is not robotic. He is free to love us as he wills, and sometimes that love is difficult?but it?s what we need. So next time you do something, anything, say, ?Jesus, wanna go with??
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The Benefit of the Doubt

When someone says something hurtful to you, it is wise to give them the benefit of the doubt. What does that mean? It means ask yourself, ?Do I firmly believe that this is a person of good will?? If so, is there anything that can help you better understand their behavior? Give them the benefit of the doubt that they are just tired, or ?hangry?, or having a bad day for some reason. Especially in marital relationships, think of how many times your spouse has said hurtful things to you, while you knew that they still loved you. This is not to excuse hurtful behavior, and not a reason to tolerate being treated poorly, or to endure any kind of abuse. In many cases a person?s actions do reveal their heart. So we?re not talking about those cases. We?re not talking about people who manipulate others intentionally, and those who just willfully do evil. We?re talking about when people of good will just have a bad moment, or momentarily let their vain side get the best of them. The way we respond to an enemy and the way we respond to a friend is going to be different. Decide which one hurt you, and respond accordingly.
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How Do You Pray with the Bible?

You know you should be praying. But do you ever wish someone would show you how? Fr. Mike starts by showing us how to pray with the Bible with a time-honored method called lectio divina. For full shownotes, please go to: Monday, May 18 at 8 PM ET, Father Mike will answer your questions LIVE, for the first time ever on Ascension Presents! Whether your question is about why Catholics do the weird things they do, how you can overcome a specific challenge, or what Father?s favorite meal is, tune into the Ascension Presents YouTube channel to ask Father Mike live!
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The Christian Solution to Vanity

Vanity is not what many people think it is. It can come in many forms, and is not necessarily an infatuation with yourself. Vanity is an inordinate preoccupation with what other people think about you?which is different. It?s important, to an extent, to care what others think about you. It can even be charitable. But when this care becomes unbalanced, it leads to neglecting more important things. Wanting to be noticed can be vain, but not wanting to be noticed can also be vain. When you shrink back and don?t want anyone to look at you, it can be a form of vanity or false humility; because not wanting to be seen can be an indication that you care an inordinate amount about what people think of you. Vanity can also cause an unwillingness to share the Faith. Many times we think sharing the gospel will make people think less of us. How many times has the thought of what other people think prevented you from sharing the Faith? Balance is pertinent in every aspect of vanity, and the best way to achieve that balance is to care about what God thinks of you above all. These sayings about humility really sum it up well, since humility is the antidote to vanity: ?Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less? (Rick Warren, The Purpose-Driven Life). ?If you meet a really humble man ? He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all? (C.S. Lewis).
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4 Essentials for Every Catholic

In a previous episode, Fr. Mike said that all Catholics grow in the same ?soil? together, but the fruit we bear is unique. But what is this common soil? What are the essentials for every Catholic Christian? ?And they devoted themselves to the apostles? teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.? So there are four elements in the soil: Teachings of the Apostles: Magisterial teaching of the Church, Sacred Scripture, and Tradition. Communal Life (Fellowship): It?s not just me praying to Jesus. We need to share life somehow. Breaking of the Bread: This refers to the Mass, not just eating together. Prayer: There are so many ways to pray as a Catholic, and so many awesome prayers. You can pray the Liturgy of the Hours with the Church, or in your own words, or both. But to be in the soil you have to pray. For a great Liturgy of the Hours app, check out iBreviary. God wants us to flourish in faith, hope, and love for him and for others. He is the one who makes us grow in holiness, but in order to flourish we have to be nourished by the soil he gave us.
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How to Deal with Your Partner?s Sexual Sin

Fr. Mike talks about how to navigate discussions with your partner about sexual sin?whether it?s pornography, masturbation, or other impurity. It?s important to realize that sometimes a person doesn?t have a right to know everything about you immediately. Keeping this in mind, at what point does a couple have to be vulnerable about their sexual sins? After two months of dating, maybe six months? It?s quite possible?actually likely?that a person?s sexual sins are the most shameful part of his or her life, so when someone is not exposing those sins?no matter how long the couple has been together?it may just be that the person is not comfortable being that vulnerable with their partner yet. A person has a right to be hurt and mad if their partner is not revealing their sexual sins, but he or she should also ask if they had a right to that knowledge. Father Mike asserts that such knowledge doesn?t have to result in the end of the relationship. Once the sin has been revealed, it should stay revealed. Neither partner should just assume that it?s in the past and done with. It?s bound to come up again. If you?re struggling with sexual sin, your partner needs to know you are doing everything you can to defeat the sin. He or she probably shouldn?t be your accountability partner, but should be informed. If your partner is the one struggling, you ought to help him or her defeat the sin in whatever way you can. Both of you should champion romantic love, since it is a strong combatant against sexual sin.
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Have You Mastered the Basics of Your Faith?

Fr. Mike makes the case that, before you claim a certain ?style? in practicing the faith, you have to master the basics. He tells a story about when he was learning guitar. The teacher told his students to hold their guitar on an angle with their left knee higher than their right. This way they could play all kinds of music. Some of the students decided they wanted to hold the guitar their own way. This limited what they could play. Living the Faith is the same way. If you?re told to do something and don?t, is it because you can?t do it, or because you won?t? When practicing the Faith, you may say you?re not into prayer, or service, or witnessing about Jesus, but all these things are essential to growing in holiness. The saints are all different, true. Their fruit was unique, but the soil where they flourished is the same. Every saint started with prayer. They all did service, they all talked about Jesus. Fr. Mike recommends that we take advantage of all the riches our Catholic Faith gives us: the Rosary, Ignatian meditation, lectio divina, charismatic prayer, and so on. Let?s not limit our experience of God by saying some tradition is not our style.
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Healing from the Wound of Sin

Fr. Mike explains how even partial healing from the wound of sin is still worth the effort. Don?t give up just because you know your sins will leave some stains and scars. God?s mercy can do amazing things in your life, even if it is just partially healed. No matter how massive and unforgivable you think your sins are, God?s mercy is infinitely greater. St. Thérèse of Lisieux said if you took all of the sins in the world throughout all of time and tossed them to God, it would be like flicking a drop of water into a raging inferno (paraphrased). Nonetheless, justice demands for sins to have consequences. God forgives the eternal effects, but there will be temporal consequences. We shouldn?t let those temporal consequences prevent us from living the life God wants us to live. God can use anything we give him. Just because you can?t do everything doesn?t mean you can?t do anything.
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Does God Ever Lead Us into Temptation?

When we pray ?lead us not into temptation?, it may seem like God has the capacity to tempt us. But that?s not the case. God does not tempt us, but he can and sometimes must put us through tests. Here are a four helpful ways to look at this part of the Our Father: Tests reveal things to us. When God tests us, it reveals how much faith, hope, and love we have in God and for God. Tests also strengthen us. As St. Paul says, ?We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope? (Romans 5:3-4). When we say, ?lead us not into temptation?, what we?re really asking is ?God, please don?t test me beyond my ability.? Trials will and must come, but when they do, we should ask God for no more than what we can endure. While God may not tempt us, the evil one does. God tests us by allowing the evil one to do what he does?so we can benefit from the strength and self-revelation that comes from the test. Hopefully this helps you say this part of the Our Father with more understanding and stronger intent.
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God?s Ways Are Not Our Ways

Fr. Mike describes exactly how God works with us, even though God?s ways are not our ways. It?s like when a person you?re living with asks ?What do you want for dinner?? and you say, ?Whatever you want.? He then starts offering suggestions, but you turn them all down. After a few minutes of back and forth you both notice that what you really meant was not, ?Whatever you want,? but, ?You tell me what you want, and then give me the freedom to choose among those options.? This is a lot like the process God uses when you tell him, ?Lord, just do what you need to do in my life.? People may not like the process, but it often works. When we tell God ?just do whatever you want? more often than not he tells us to choose from a list of options. He respects our free will. If you ask him to purify your heart, that?s going to require breaking it so he can heal it. Trust the process, even if it?s going to hurt, and God will lead you to greater things.
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How Should Catholics Respond to the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Fr. Mike gives us some advice about how we should respond to the coronavirus pandemic. He begins with the story of the recent pilgrimage he took to Israel amid the coronavirus outbreak. Israeli authorities were quarantining people in the country and canceling all flights except for citizens. Fr. Mike had to rush with his pilgrims and tour company to figure out what to do about their scheduled pilgrimage. At the very last minute, the tour company found a flight to Istanbul that allowed eight pilgrims, including Fr. Mike, to flee Tel Aviv. After successfully making it back home, he found that the original flight they had booked home was never cancelled. Moral of the story: everything?s a gamble. Some people, deeply convicted to speak the truth, may believe the reaction to COVID-19 is all for nothing, and that there is no need to cancel flights and even Masses. To those people, Fr. Mike asks, are we just being a critic toward those who have to make difficult choices? Worry, anxiety, fear and living in the what ifs won?t solve anything. Faith in God is the answer, faith that everything will turn out all right in the end. Some say this virus is a result of our faithlessness, and a call to repentance. Others say our reaction to it is an example of faithlessness. One thing is for certain: this is a call to faith as all adversity should be, but it is also a call to repentance as it should remind us of our frailty and mortality. How coincidental that we should be reminded of these things during Lent, which begins by telling us ?You are dust and to dust you shall return,? and ?Repent and believe in the gospel.? We can find a positive and negative side to any situation. How can we find the blessings amid this adversity? Pray. Be grateful. And cover your mouth when you cough.
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