By Susan Ciancio

For a little over a month now, I have excitedly listened to Fr. Mike Schmitz’s Bible in a Year podcast. For those of you who don’t know about this podcast, I can’t wait to tell you about it. And for those of you who do know, I want to share some insights into how this podcast will help you build a culture of life—a culture that respects and protects the dignity of all human beings.

Fr. Mike Schmitz is a dynamic priest who serves as director of youth and young adult ministry for the Diocese of Duluth. He is also chaplain for the Newman Center at the University of Minnesota Duluth. If you have never heard him speak, find him on YouTube. He is amazing, and his words have a way of not only touching hearts, but of making you think and come to a greater understanding of the faith.

Last year, when I heard that Fr. Mike was going to host what’s called the Bible in a Year podcast, I was thrilled! I have always lamented the fact that I never read the Bible cover to cover. So this was the perfect opportunity—one I knew I couldn’t pass up. Each day, Fr. Mike reads from the Bible, says a brief prayer, and then explains what he read. What could be better than that?

And it seems people all over are as excited as I am! For the better part of the year so far, this podcast has been number one (or close to it) in the Apple podcast charts. That’s amazing! It shows how much we crave God’s word. And it shows how much we want to learn about our faith.

I have faithfully listened every day, and I couldn’t be more excited to keep this as part of my daily routine. That’s why I wanted to share it with you! Even if you haven’t started yet, don’t be discouraged. You can catch up. Or you can just start now and finish a year from now. It doesn’t matter! The most important thing is that you will hear God’s word and have it so wonderfully explained.

As I listen each day, I am struck by how much we can benefit—spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally—from this podcast. It not only helps us grow closer to God, but it gives us a deeper understanding of our faith. It helps us focus on eternity with God rather than on worldly matters. It teaches us how we can become the best possible version of ourselves. And it can help us build a culture of life. How? You will find yourself so inspired by the Bible in a Year podcast that you can’t help but go out into the world on fire for the word of God. When you’re on fire, others notice and watch in amazement. They want the joy that you have. It is then that you can help open their hearts and minds to Christ!

So here are five ways that listening to the Bible in a Year podcast naturally inspires you to build a culture of life in your home and community.

1. It strengthens your faith.

You’ve never heard the Bible like this before. It’s not only exciting to listen to, but it’s fun! You want to listen every day! Fr. Mike’s insightful words, his simple explanations, and his affectionate demeanor reflect the love and compassion that Christ has for all of us. He makes the word of God come alive as he engages us in every word. Because of this, we come to a deeper understanding of our faith—an understanding we naturally want to pass on to others.

2. Starting or ending your day—or taking a much-needed break in the middle—with God’s words filling your heart and mind helps you get to know Him better.

My dad used to say that a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet. Well, sometimes we let life get in the way and we act like strangers toward God. We don’t talk to Him as often as we should. We don’t pray enough. We don’t acknowledge Him in public. But when we make Him a vital part of our day, we begin to renew our relationship with Him. We learn things we never knew. We become friends. And soon you’ll find yourself being open and honest about this friendship with everyone you know, with people on the street, and on social media. It will be like introducing a friend to your existing friends. And they will get to know Him too!

3. Hearing God’s word instills peace.

It’s true! I can say from experience that, after more than a month of listening to the Bible and to Fr. Mike every day, I am more at peace. I’m happier. Every day I look forward to taking time out of my day and listening. It’s not a chore or something I dread, but something I have grown to crave. Fr. Mike has a way of making you smile. His warmth instills the peace of Christ—a peace that you can’t help but allow to flow outward toward others. And when you exude this peace of Christ, the people around you feel loved and valued.

4. The podcast offers encouragement.

After every segment, Fr. Mike talks about the community of listeners. He asks us to pray for him and for each other. You get the feeling that you are part of something amazing. It’s a wonderful realization to know there are an untold number of people listening and praying together. It’s easy to feel encouraged. And this encouragement and excitement spill over to others when you talk to them about it. If you like that sense of community, and if you’re on Facebook, you can join an online community of people who are just as excited about this as you are. Check out Fr. Jim’s Bible in a Year Study Support Group. Each day, Fr. Jim Chern writes a summary explaining the day’s readings. You can even ask questions and chat with fellow members. That’s encouragement! That’s a culture of life!

5. You get that “aha” moment!

Maybe it’s been awhile since you’ve read the Bible. Maybe you have never read a certain section. Maybe you read it but never understood what was happening. Through the podcast, you will finally get that clarity you’ve been seeking. When you have this enlightening moment—or moments—you will find that you are now better able to eloquently defend your faith to others. And we know that, today especially, it’s imperative that we learn how to properly defend our faith.

If we know Christ, I mean truly know Him, then building a culture of life becomes a natural extension of who we are. It’s what God calls us to do. And it’s the most important thing we can do. So grab a cup of coffee, download the podcast, and join Fr. Mike as he leads us to a deeper relationship with the Author of Life. Then let the Holy Spirit guide you as we bring the culture back to LIFE!

Image courtesy of Antonela