by Rachel Cowart
Technology and I have never been best friends. I am one of the unfortunate generations for whom the most recent technological advances came along just late enough for them to feel unnatural. I actually had a moment of absurd panic when this document window disappeared for no apparent reason. Fortunately for me, I married well and my tech-savvy husband retrieved it in under ten seconds. You can imagine my chagrin as I put in my airpods, press play on my new favorite podcast, and start breakfast for the sixty-fifth day in a row. I would blame my newfound reliance on technology on COVID, but it was actually the birth of my third child that pushed me into an unforeseen alliance with technology. I have trouble finding time to take a shower let alone pick up a Bible, and with three kids under the age of five a Bible is what I found I needed the most.
Enter Father Mike Schmitz and his “The Bible In A Year” podcast. Although I was aware of Father Mike, a Roman Catholic priest with a very popular YouTube channel, it wasn’t until he launched his new podcast that I began listening to him regularly. In a recent interview, Father Mike was asked what led him to create “The Bible In A Year” podcast and he expressed a sentiment I think we can all relate to. He said he found himself increasingly distressed and distracted by current events and the myriad of voices he was listening to. He wanted to go back to God’s Word, to listen, and to allow his lens and his worldview to be shaped by the larger story of God. It surprised him as much as everyone else when his podcast became the number one podcast on the Apple Charts by mid-February; a mere month and a half after its inception.
It seems I am not the only one who found myself with a need which only the scriptures could meet. Each episode is roughly twenty to twenty-five minutes long and features two to three scripture readings, a reflection from Fr. Mike Schmitz, and a guided prayer to help you hear God’s voice in His Word. The podcast follows a reading plan developed by renowned Catholic Bible teacher Jeff Cavins, which aims at understanding the history of salvation. It is definitely a podcast I would recommend to anyone searching for some encouragement.
Reading scripture has always posed two problems for me: First, the pressure I felt to properly exegete what I was reading was enormous, and second, if making time to be still before the Lord while reading His word was difficult in my twenties when I was single, finding time now that I am married with three children under the age of five is nigh impossible. Being able to listen to the Word of God read aloud while I make breakfast or do the dishes has been a huge blessing. Elbow deep in dirty water, or scrambling eggs I find the podcast doing exactly what Fr. Mike hoped it would-- reorienting my heart toward the larger story of God and providing some much needed polishing on this mother’s lenses.
With Job I was reminded that my faith in the Lord rests on His character and not on my circumstances. My love for God must be unconditional if it is to be unwavering. Even writing that on this page seems to stiffen my spine by an infinitesimal measure. Almost unbidden, an image of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane telling his Father, “nevertheless not as I will, but Thy will be done” comes to the forefront of my mind. Was there ever a greater expression of this truth? With Joseph I rejoiced in the power of forgiveness to restore what was lost and marveled at the expansiveness of God’s salvific plan. I listened, vaguely horrified, as the Israelites complained over and over in the wilderness and tested the Lord repeatedly. I cringed when, on the very eve of their entrance into the promised land, they choked on their own fear and disqualified themselves from God’s great gift, forcing the generations that followed to fight the battle they were unwilling to fight.
I understand now, more than ever, the place of the Kyrie in our service. We place ourselves firmly with the great history of those who stumble repeatedly, who are quick to anger, full of fear, and guilty of conditional love and, with one voice, we cry, “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.” I agree with Father Mike. The problems in the world are often deeply troubling, but if you read scripture long enough, sooner or later, you discover the uncomfortable truth: the world is us. Lord, have mercy on me a sinner. In the final words of Fr. Mike, “I am praying for you.” Now I must go ask my husband how to email this document because, blessed as I am by it, technology and I are still not friends. But to everyone who is my friend I say, peace be with you.
To listen to The Bible in a Year podcast with Fr. Mike Schmitz, go to Ascension Press at https://media.ascensionpress.com/category/ascension-podcasts/bibleinayear