Popular podcasting priest lectures on Theology of the Body

Host of the popular podcasts “Bible in a Year” and “Catechism in a Year,” Fr. Mike Schmitz, visited Notre Dame on Friday, February 23 and Saturday, February 24. The world-famous priest from the University of Minnesota Duluth came to give a lecture titled: “Life After the Apple: How to Love After the Fall.” 

Fr. Mike celebrated Mass for the university on Friday, February 23. Forty-five minutes before Mass began, students had already filled the basilica to standing-room only.

In his homily, Fr. Mike preached the importance of choosing the good. He began his homily by joking about people’s stupidity, using warning labels as an example: “I went through a bunch of warnings because I was interested in this … There was a warning label on a chainsaw, and it said, ‘Do not hold the wrong end of the chainsaw.’”

He continued, to the laughter of the congregation, “Another said on a clothing iron, ‘Do not iron clothes while wearing them.”

Fr. Mike explained that we need these ‘warning labels’ in our spiritual lives, too. He said, “In Deuteronomy chapter three, the Lord says through Moses, ‘Here then, I have placed before you life and prosperity, death and doom.’ Choose life, everyone … At the end of the day, you get what you choose. What am I choosing?”

Sophomore Elliott Kirwan told the Rover, “My favorite part of his homily was his emphasis that God gives us free choice over how we live, but that we have responsibility for what we choose. If we desire heaven, we can choose it, but we must act in a manner that will send us on that road.”

Senior Janey Olohan told the Rover, “Attending Mass with Fr. Mike was truly a one of a kind experience. I have yet to see the basilica so full as it was on Friday in anticipation of his Mass … Fr. Mike encouraged every student and parent in the audience to take advantage of the gift they have been given and to use their freedom to choose to be saints.”

The next day, Fr. Mike spoke in the basilica. Like the Mass the night before, the basilica was standing-room-only at least a half hour before the keynote address began.

Fr. Mike’s lecture had its basis in Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. Fr. Mike described the human condition before the fall, as found in Genesis chapters one and two. He began by describing Adam’s original solitude. 

He said, “How does Adam know that he is alone? Adam was not just by himself; Adam was made for another, and he was without that other … How did Adam know he was made for another? Basically, he saw his own body and was like, ‘What’s that for?’”

Fr. Mike continued, describing how the fall has ruptured our relationships: “The moment their eyes were opened, [Adam and Eve] experienced shame. They covered up the parts of their bodies that differentiated them male or female … In this moment, [Eve’s] eyes are opened, and she sees something in Adam’s eyes that she has never seen before but you have seen every day of your life.”

He then explained that there is one lie to which every man since the fall has fallen prey: “The lie that has infected every man’s heart is the lie that says ‘You are not enough. You are not a man.’ If you don’t do this, you aren’t competent.’ Every man you’ve ever met, this lie has [affected] to one degree or another.”

Fr. Mike then described the lie that has come against every woman. He said, “This lie is affecting every woman you have ever met. From your grandmother to your little sister. She hears it every single day: ‘You are not worth loving as you are.’”

He offered some examples of how that lie manifests itself in women, saying that they believe if they were just a little “smarter … prettier … skinnier” then they would “be worth loving a little more.”

He continued, “There are some people who say, ‘Well I’m not playing that game. The lie is not going to affect me.’ They are the sweatpants and hoodie girls … Put the Notre Dame cap on and say, ‘That’s my style; that’s my vibe. I never wear anything else. I’m not playing that game.’ I’m not trying to accuse anyone here … I’m just saying that sometimes we don’t play a game because we think we will lose.”

In an interview with the Irish Rover, Fr. Mike spoke to the universal importance of his message. He said, “I really like speaking to college students, whether it be at a secular university or a Catholic college, because everyone’s dealing with the same stuff.  The point of the talk is that this is what is common to all humanity, not even just young people, not just college students, but everyone.”

He continued, “So, the reality is that we’re made on purpose, and we’re made good, but we all experience brokenness. We experience brokenness in a number of ways, and one of those ways we experience brokenness is in our relationships. We don’t know how to love well.”

Fr. Mike also told the Rover that he enjoyed his time on Notre Dame’s campus. When asked about his favorite part of Notre Dame, Fr. Mike said, “I love that building that has all the Christopher Columbus paintings on the inside.” 

Director of Marketing, Communications, and Events for the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Newman Center, Lauren Hopke, explained the importance of correcting our false understandings of the human person. She told the Rover, “ When you go onto a college campus, you see that our encounters with beauty can be kind of challenging and untrue. A naked body can be one of two things. It can be a vulgar thing, or it can be a beautiful thing … To know the truth of the fact that you are your body and what you do with your body matter can change the way that you live the rest of your life.”

On Friday night, the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture hosted Fr. Mike in the Morris Inn for a private reception with select Sorin Fellows. Elliott Kirwan attended the dinner and said, “Fr. Mike was very warm, friendly, and relatable. He has a gift for filling the room with a sense of humor and joy. He is present to whomever he is speaking to in a way that makes one feel seen and known, even when it is a brief conversation.”

Notre Dame Campus Ministry, the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture, the McGrath Institute for Church Life, the Folk Choir, and the Hallow App all co-sponsored Fr. Mike’s visit to campus in conjunction with Student Government. 

Elizabeth Hale is a junior studying political science and Italian. Her favorite part of Fr. Mike’s visit was meeting someone who speaks faster than she does. For tips on how to not be exhausted by more evenly-paced talkers, email ehale@nd.edu

Photo Credit: The Irish Rover

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