By Susan Ciancio
When you travel on a plane with a small child, the flight attendant tells you that in the event of an emergency when an oxygen mask drops, you should put on your own mask before attempting to fit one on the child. Why? Because if the parent doesn’t take care of himself, he cannot take care of his child. This is so in life and especially with our faith. If we as parents don’t understand our faith, we cannot possibly teach it to our children.
The news today has become increasingly disturbing, especially when it comes to children and families. In just this past week we have seen a story about a six year old who took a gun to school and shot his teacher and a story involving a mother who wants to change the gender of her son. This is merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Families and children are under attack.
Our world is a crazy place, and it’s only going to get crazier unless courageous parents stand up for morality and the truth. But parents cannot stand up for the truth—let alone teach anyone else—if they themselves don’t know or understand what that truth is.
That’s why we at the Culture of Life Studies Program believe that not only is education about our faith vital for children but it’s just as vital for parents. In many of our lessons, adults can learn new facts and information right along with their children.
But there are times when we know of something so powerful and so beneficial to our souls that we simply cannot stop talking about it. For many years now, we have encouraged parents to watch—and then share with their kids—Ascension’s videos featuring Fr. Mike Schmitz—a dynamic priest in the diocese of Duluth, Minnesota, who is also chaplain for the Newman Center at the University of Minnesota Duluth. These 8-10-minute videos on varying topics within Catholicism have given us not only a better understanding of our faith but have caused us to approach our faith with a newfound joy.
We look around the world and see sports figures, Hollywood stars, and singers touted as role models. And while there are some great public figures, none holds a candle to Fr. Mike Schmitz.
That’s why we were so excited when two years ago, in January of 2021, Ascension launched its Bible in a Year podcast. Over the course of the year, Fr. Mike Schmitz read the entire Bible and gave his profound insights into God’s word. Many who listened the first year also listened again last year. It was that good!
This year, Fr. Mike and Ascension are gifting us with the Catechism in a Year podcast. On January 1, Fr. Mike began reading from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and by the end of this year, he will have read the entire volume. For those unacquainted with the Catechism, this book—second in importance only to the Bible—is a one-volume work that summarizes Church teaching. Divided into four parts—what we believe, how we worship, how we live, and how we pray—the Catechism was finished in 1992 under the direction of St. John Paul II and under the editorial guidance of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The Catechism is a critical tool for helping us understand our faith.
Since its release, the Catechism in a Year podcast has risen to number one in all categories of Apple’s podcasts. As Fr. Mike would say, “What a gift!”
We can truly see the hand of our Lord working here.
That is why we must work with God as we strive to create a culture that turns away from immorality and wokeness and focuses on what is truly important. One of the ways we can do this is by continuing to educate ourselves and our children.
When our children see us working to learn more about our faith, when they see us modeling excitement and pride in Church teaching, and when they see the joy we derive from learning more about our faith, they are more likely to want that too. But if we are lukewarm about our faith or if we hide it and only take it out on Sunday mornings, they will follow suit as well.
So this year, we challenge you to make a promise to yourself that you will learn more about your faith by participating in the Catechism in a Year podcast. Though it started January 1, it’s important to know that you don’t have to feel like you’re behind. You can begin now and listen every day for a year. Or you can begin now and double up on some episodes to be in step with new releases. The podcast isn’t going away after December 31, so you can listen at your own pace. But take this incredible opportunity to learn more about our faith, to understand its rich traditions, and to allow God to work in your life.
We read in Isaiah that God said to him, “I have called you by name: you are mine.” He says that to all of us. We are His. God wants to grow closer to us. And if we want to know Him better, we must put that oxygen mask on our faces first. We must open our hearts and minds and listen—to His words, to His teachings, and to the gifts given to us by those who know and understand Church teaching.
The Catechism in a Year podcast is one such gift. Will you press play?