Faith, pop culture, and headline reflections from Fr. Mike Schmitz.
Faith, pop culture, and headline reflections from Fr. Mike Schmitz.
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
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.
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).
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 (https://bit.ly/2BjgNu5)
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.
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 AscensionPress.com/FrMikePodcast
Special Guest: Fr. Josh Johnson.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Love Fr. Mike!
As a Catholic who was confirmed just 2 years ago, I love Fr. Mike! He gives great insights, he is funny and engaging, and he encourages us to be better Catholics and followers of Christ! Thank you, Fr. Mike!
Right on Point
Fr Mike is so easy and entertaining that you hardly realize that he has slipped profound truths into his monologues or homilies. I am repeatedly impacted in an uplifting way when listening to him. Thanks for bringing me back.