By Susan Ciancio

Three hundred sixty-three days ago I started a journey—a journey filled with excitement, battles, conflict, burning bushes, and more. But most importantly, a journey filled with wisdom, heroes, and God’s love. This journey has taken me through nearly the entire Bible.

I’m talking about Ascension’s Bible in a Year podcast with Fr. Mike Schmitz.

Last year at this time, I excitedly awaited the beginning of this podcast. I had always wanted to read the Bible from cover to cover, but I never had. This seemed like a sign from God telling me it was time. I was already a huge fan of Fr. Mike Schmitz’s videos that teach about the Catechism. His charisma, his knowledge, his understanding, and the extraordinary way he is able to impart his wisdom made me certain that this podcast would be the way I would finally get through the entire Bible.

And I succeeded. I made the Bible in a Year part of my daily routine. I never missed a day. Whether on vacation, post-surgery, or just trying to make it through normal days, I listened. And by listening, I have learned about God and His love, about my place in His plan, about the early Church, about the connections between the Old and New Testaments, and about so much more.

After each reading, Fr. Mike says a short prayer and then discusses what he read. He does a masterful job of explaining the daily readings and helping the listener understand. In Fr. Mike’s words, “What a gift!”

I can’t believe this year has flown by so quickly!

Ascension plans to keep the podcast active indefinitely, and many people are planning to listen again. Some have not finished and are continuing. Others have only recently heard about it and are anxious to begin on January 1. Wherever you fall in this continuum, know that you are in the perfect place. And I urge you to persevere.

Each new year usually brings a new set of resolutions. Typically, people focus on ways they want to improve themselves physically. Some of the most common New Year’s resolutions include losing weight, exercising more, giving up junk food, etc.

Those are all great resolutions, but we must not forget to work on ourselves spiritually. At the Culture of Life Studies Program, we focus on helping others build a culture of life in their homes and communities. Our lessons help you teach your children or students about God’s love, about how to treat others, about the sanctity of all human beings, and about the Catholic faith.

But, in order to extend our knowledge and faith outward, we must be holy models to the children (and others) in our lives. We cannot instill values we don’t have or are merely lukewarm about.

Now that it’s almost 2022, I have a challenge for you. Begin the Bible in a Year podcast on January 1. Listen faithfully. Understand that things may come up and you may miss a day or more, but endeavor to make it a part of your life. Once you make it a part of your life, you will find that God’s words have become an integral part of your very self. You will feel a transformation happening. Not only will you strengthen your faith, but you will increase in joy in our Lord.

Isn’t this the lesson you want to impart to your children?

As parents, we worry constantly about the influence of our secular world on our children. That is why, now more than ever, we must serve as examples of faithfulness. We must demonstrate to them that we never stop learning about our faith. We must allow them to see that, even as adults, we can strengthen our relationship with God.

We all need to begin with a solid foundation, and the Bible in a Year provides that foundation. Every day that we listen becomes a brick that builds the foundation, that strengthens it, and that keeps it strong.

Words cannot express the amazing transformation I see in myself after listening to God’s word every day for a year. I want this for you. So, as you ponder your New Year’s resolution over the next couple days, explore this possibility, and then carve out the time. Whether you finish a year from now, two years from now, or whether it takes you longer, you will not only finish with a sense of awe and wonder about God’s love and mercy, but you will feel that closeness, that peace, and that joy that we all long for.