Many fans of Fr. Mike Schmitz and his highly-rated The Bible in a Year podcast don’t know that he had two podcasts before that — his Sunday homilies, as well as The Fr. Mike Schmitz Catholic Podcast (which publishes the audio of his popular YouTube videos).
But The Bible in a Year, his third podcast, produced by Ascension Press, became the most popular podcast in America after it launched at the beginning of 2021, passing 100 million downloads by that summer. Building on that success is now a new show that’ss just about to launch — The Catechism in a Year.
Fr. Mike will be reading every day of 2023 from Ascension Press’ edition of the new Catechism of the Catholic Church, which features color-coding and charts and expanded appendices to help readers understand how each part of the Catechism is based in Scripture and Tradition.
“It will be especially neat for listeners who went through The Bible in a Year, to see how our Catholic beliefs explained in the Catechism flow right from Scripture,” a representative from Ascension Press told Aleteia.
Scripture scholar Jeff Cavins, who plays a significant role in The Bible in a Year podcast, will be the first special guest of The Catechism in a Year, appearing in a specially-filmed episode in which he will discuss with Fr. Mike the first section of the Catechism — What We Believe — and what listeners can expect in the first portion of the podcast. (The episode’s audio will go into a CIY podcast episode, and then the video will live on the Catechism in a Year YouTube page, along with the rest of the CIY episode videos.) Other special guests on the podcast are Bishop Andrew Cozzens, Sister Miriam James Heidland, SOLT, and Dr. Mary Healy.
Aleteia spoke with Fr. Mike about what’s he’s learned and what he’s most looking forward to with the new daily podcast, which launches on January 1.
The Bible in a Year podcast was an unexpected success. How were your changed by it?
“How was I changed by the Bible?” or “How was I changed by the podcast?” Because those are two different things.
First … being changed by God’s Word is something that 100% happens. God’s Word is living and effective – that’s no joke, that is a real thing. The goal of the whole Bible in a Year was to remind people of the biblical worldview, to allow them to see life with the Biblical lens, to help them reclaim the biblical imagination. And so to read through the Bible last year, and for this year, to listen through it myself, has done those things for me as well – it has helped me regain that biblical worldview.
And what does that mean, “a biblical worldview?”
It means being able to see everything through the lens of God’s Word, being able to see everything through the lens of God’s revelation, [for example] the dignity of human beings, the challenge to belong to Him, the reality of idolatry, the love of God, the compassion and justice of God.
One way that it’s changed the way that I approach the Mass is going back to some of those more challenging passages of the Old Testament like Leviticus or Numbers – in those, they talk about the sacred duty of the Old Testament priests, and recognizing that that’s fulfilled in the New Testament and the new covenant priests, that really has changed the way I approach the Mass in various ways.
As for how was I changed by the podcast itself, I would say that it’s just been a real blessing. The biggest takeaway for me has been the number of people who have allowed God into their life on a daily basis who didn’t have that before, or who allowed God into their lives in a new way that they hadn’t yet done until they started [listening].
Are there particular sections of the Catechism you are most excited to read and reflect on? What are they about?
Wow, that is a great question.
The beginning of the Catechism, I think, is the most challenging in terms of the “big questions” … big questions about the mystery of God, big questions about the mystery of the Trinity, but also questions about the mystery of the Incarnation, the Hypostatic Union – all those “big mysteries,” and that’s a big challenge.
But then when we get deeper and deeper into the Person of Jesus Christ, the Person of the Holy Spirit, the working of the Word, the working of the Holy Spirit, it gets really exciting.
And then every section after that, too — the Church, what does it mean to be saved, the section on the sacraments, and on the moral life. All of those are uniquely challenging, not in the same sense that the “big questions” on the mysteries are challenging, but those are challenging because, “How do you make sense of a mystery?” But these sections on worship and the moral life are challenging in the sense of, “Ok, what are all the ways that this can apply to my life? And what are all the implications for my life?” I’m very excited to get to that section because I think there’s going to be a lot of conviction, and a lot of convicting, going on in those sections.
Above all, my favorite section of the Catechism, forever, has been the section on Prayer, so I’m super excited to get to that 4th Pillar [of the Catechism].
What do you think will be the greatest challenge to doing this new podcast compared to The Bible in a Year?
Well, first of all, the Bible is a story, which is both easier for the narrator (me) to read, and also easier for the listener to follow along with. On one day we might be on Chapter 22 of Isaiah, and on the next day we’ll be on Chapter 23 of Isaiah, and so there’s a natural continuity there. Sometimes what happens in the Catechism is that one day we’ll be talking about one particular aspect of the Person of Jesus, and the next day we’ll be talking about a completely different aspect. And so, it might be harder at first for people to have a sense of the context day to day, but I think ultimately they’ll fall into the rhythm [of the Catechism], and understand what’s going on.
What do you hope listeners will come away with from this new series on the Catechism?
The Bible in a Year was all about learning to see our lives through the lens of Scripture. With The Catechism in a Year, I hope that we will allow the truths of the Catholic faith to shape our lives. God’s story in our lives doesn’t end with the Bible, but God’s story continues with the Church, and the life of the Church.
You can find out more about The Catechism in a Year at Ascension Press.