“My gosh, you guys!” “What a gift!” I’ve heard Fr. Mike Schmitz exclaim these words hundreds of times over the last 364 days, and I smile every time I hear them. Over these past 364 days, I’ve listened to the word of God. I’ve been immersed in His love. I’ve learned about faith. And my life has been immeasurably transformed.
Upon starting Ascension’s Bible in a Year podcast almost a year ago, I never would have imagined the transformative effect it would have on me and on millions of people.
In each 20-30-minute podcast, Fr. Mike Schmitz reads from the Bible, says a short prayer, and then explains what he read. It’s truly an incredible experience.
Following its debut on January 1, 2021, the podcast sat in the number one spot on Apple Podcasts from Jan. 2-18, 2021, and it has been in the number one spot in Apple’s Religion & Spirituality section for most of the year. Ascension reports that the podcast has been downloaded 170 million times for a total of four billion minutes listened.
That’s phenomenal for a Catholic podcast!
People can hardly contain their excitement, and so many want to share their thoughts and experiences with others. They want you to see through their eyes so that you, too, can share in this blessing.
For instance, podcast listener Jennifer Minnick says that she loves Father’s heartwarming “excitement for the word of God and how he seems like he just can’t stop talking.” She continues: “I also like how he explains what the verses mean in our world today. Lots of times I struggle with what all this means, and I look forward to when he will explain it.”
Indeed, we need faithful priests who will guide us as we journey through life.
One such priest is Fr. Jim Chern, who began a Facebook discussion group about Bible in a Year thinking just a small group would join. It now has over 4,000 members! He tells us that “there have been so many gifts and blessings from this first year of journeying with the Bible.” He continues: “Seeing, hearing, and experiencing the scriptures as the living word of God in the lives of so many, it’s hard to imagine any podcast being remotely successful in comparison to what the Lord has accomplished through Fr. Mike and Jeff Cavins and the whole team at BIAY.”
For this, we should not only be thrilled but thankful, especially as we know that our increasingly secular world scoffs at holiness and morality. Our society prefers the “you do you” mentality rather than the “you do God’s commands” mentality.
But this past year has proven that people are hungry for God, for His word, and for the lessons we can learn as we read the Bible.
Podcast listener Leslie Sholly agrees, saying: “Father Mike’s enthusiasm for the subject matter is contagious! I love his humor and his sincerity.”
Far from over
I have to admit that I was beyond excited to begin the Bible in a Year. When I first heard it would start on January 1, I couldn’t wait. I had been a fan of Fr. Mike Schmitz’s videos for many years, and I love the way he teaches, explains difficult concepts, and inspires others to get excited for our faith. You can truly see how much he loves God and the Church. It’s a passion I long to have and to instill in my children.
But now we are just a day away from the final reading. I think I can speak for many people when I say that it will be a bittersweet ending. We will all feel proud at the accomplishment of finishing the entire Bible, but hearing Fr. Mike’s parting words and knowing the podcast is over will leave many with tears in their eyes.
However, this is not the end.
Ascension plans to make the podcast available on podcast apps and on YouTube indefinitely, so people can listen again, newcomers can begin January 1, and those who have not yet finished can continue.
As Fr. Mike would say, “What a gift!”
I plan to listen again, as I know there’s so much more I can learn. Listener Jennifer Sanders plans to listen again as well. She states: “Spending time with God’s word and Fr. Mike’s hopeful, enthusiastic commentary helps shine a light on the story of salvation. Fr. Mike challenges and inspires. I am excited to continue another year of study with it.”
As we approach the New Year, we join the millions of people who make resolutions. Most frequently, people make resolutions pertaining to their bodies or exercise. But what about spiritual resolutions? We can’t focus on the body and ignore the soul.
So what will be your resolution? What do you want from this coming year? What are you searching for in life? Those are questions we must all spend time reflecting upon.
As God’s children, we need so much more than resolutions that address the way we eat or exercise. We need resolutions that transform our lives. And that is what the Bible in a Year does.
Our world is broken, and often people have a very distorted view of God and His plans. So many don’t understand His love. And many more don’t even want to understand. They close their minds, and they close their hearts. But the podcast will open both.
For 365 days, you will spend 20-30 minutes a day immersed in God’s word. You will hear His voice like you’ve never heard it before. You will come to understand His love in a way you never thought possible. And you will realize that, not only have you been searching for God, but He has been searching for you.
Creating a culture of life begins with each and every one of us, but we cannot do this if we don’t know God. Listening to the entirety of the Bible, hearing God’s words, growing closer to Him every day, and strengthening our faith all help build the foundation we need to change today’s culture of death to one of life.
So if you only make one resolution this year, let it be to grow closer to God. Listening to the Bible in a Year podcast will help you achieve that goal, and you will find that, at the end of the year, you will be well equipped to do as Christ charged the Apostles—to go out and “make disciples of all nations.”