Friday 2 February 2024

It's Personal: Cultivating Your Relationship with God - Fr. Mike Schmitz - Homilies Collection

It's Personal: 
Cultivating Your Relationship with God
Sunday Homilies with Fr Mike Schmitz Collection
ISBN 9781954882065
eISBN  9781954882072

It's Personal - Fr Mike Schmitz Homilies Collection

I have read and listened to a lot of Father Mike Schmitz’s offerings. This is one of 5 volumes of Homilies that have been released by ascension press. The first four volumes seem to have had eBook releases in 2022 in a series called ‘The Curious Catholic’. They were then rebranded and rereleased in the fall of 2023 as ‘The Sunday Homilies with Fr Mike Schmitz Collection’. I believe there were four in the original collection and there are now 5 in the new versions. It is hard tracking down all the works published by Father Mike as they are published under a number of variations of his name:

Mike Schmitz
Fr Mike Schmitz
Father Mike Schmitz
and even
Michael Schmitz

But back to this volume. The description of this book states:

“God wants to have a personal relationship with his children. Although prayer can sometimes seem impersonal and difficult, it’s actually quite simple. It’s communicating with God, our heavenly Father who desires a close relationship with us. It’s Cultivating Your Relationship with God, a booklet in The Sunday Homilies with Fr. Mike Schmitz Collection, was created to invite Catholics closer to God by revealing the beauty of a personal relationship with God through Fr. Mike Schmitz’s homilies. In It’s Personal, Fr. Mike Schmitz takes Catholics on a journey to uncover the simplicity and beauty of prayer. Learning and applying the easy steps found in this booklet can help each person develop their life of prayer and grow deeper in relationship with God. Encounter God’s love while learning Scripture says about the ideal relationship with God Why prayer is so important for that relationship How to pray, even when it’s difficult Tips for personal prayer Complete with thought-provoking questions, prayerful meditations, and real-life challenges after each chapter, this booklet is perfect for individual devotion or group study.”

The chapters in this volume are:

Welcome to The Sunday Homilies with Fr. Mike Schmitz Collection
Chapter 1: How to Pray
Chapter 2: Faith and Faithfulness
Chapter 3: Fear and Fearlessness
Chapter 4: The Battle of Prayer
Chapter 5: Your Story

We are informed that this booklet and I assume the others in the series as well are adapted from a series of Homilies given by Fr. Mike Schmitz. The welcome message in the booklet states:

“Each booklet in this series has been created to invite Catholics to grow closer to God through reflections from Fr. Mike.

These booklets are short and relatable, with features that will help you apply what you read to your own life.

Quotes and Bible verses throughout the booklets will help you zero in on the key points.

Questions after each section prompt you to reflect and help you to dive deeper into the topic being presented. We recommend that you pray or journal with these questions as you make connections to your everyday life. (They also make great prompts for small group discussion, while keeping in mind that not everyone in your group may feel comfortable answering those of a more personal nature.)
Meditations are provided after each reflection to help you take the topic directly into prayer. We recommend setting aside some time after each chapter to read the meditation and pray or journal with it.

Each reflection ends with a challenge to put what you have learned into action. These challenges invite you to enter into prayer, serve others, make a resolution for the week, and more.

It is our sincere hope The Sunday Homilies with Fr. Mike Schmitz Collection helps you along the way in your journey toward holiness. May God bless you!”

A sample Reflect, Pray and Act section from the ends of the first chapter is:

Have you ever had an experience where bad communication created a difficult situation? What are some tips for good communication?

How is your communication with God? Are you using those tips for good communication with him? Are you disposing yourself to be able to have good conversations with him?

In the past, has it seemed like prayer is a technique that you can be good or bad at? Why is it important to know that prayer is about communication, not technique? 

Has it ever felt like you had to earn God’s attention before? If so, how does knowing that God is always listening change your perspective?

Did these two steps to prayer surprise you?

Do you have a personal relationship with God? If yes, please say something about that (for example, when did that start? How did it start?). If you don’t, why do you think that that is?

Which of God’s characteristics, revealed by Jesus, is the most important to you personally? (This question is more about you than about some kind of “theological importance.”) For example, “Knowing this about God has changed my life.” What is this?

Is it hard to believe that God simply loves you? Is it easier to believe that you have to still do more to get his attention or to make him love you more? Where do you think that comes from? If it is easy for you, why do you think that it is easy for you? 

We can have a tendency to “dismiss” God’s love, “disqualify” ourselves from his love, or believe that we “deserve” God’s love. If you fall into any of these categories, what do you think is the best way out?

As we have learned, God is paying attention to us, and he is waiting for us to look back at him. Prayer is how we “look back” at him. It is the two-step process of acknowledging that God loves us—and then letting him love us. While this sounds simple, it can be more challenging than it seems.

As you enter into prayer, remember that you are not trying to get God’s attention. You are communing with the God who already shed his blood to get your attention. Your prayer may seem like it is just beginning, but the Lord has always been there—and he is now eagerly welcoming you into his presence.

In Matthew 4, we see how Jesus went into the wilderness to do battle with Satan before beginning his public ministry. He did this for us; he left all distractions behind to focus on winning our freedom. So Jesus has given us the ability to depart from all distractions to be with him. He did battle with Satan so that we can be at peace with him! Today, make your prayer time a “miniature desert retreat,” focusing on the deep love Jesus has for you.

Read Matthew 4 in the ways described and reflect on how Jesus is fighting for you.”

Each of the chapters has a section like that at the end. Some longer some shorter. This is another excellent resource from Fr Mike, I have used his Bible in a Year Companions, and am currently using the Catechism in a Year Companion and read some of his other offerings. What I love about this book and this new collection is you can pick and choose. Read a booklet from beginning to end or jump around and read the different topics as you are inspired, or they seam relevant. Because they are based on Father Mike’s actual homilies the text flows well, is engaging and keeps your attention. They would be great to work trough as a group study or for personal reading, reflection, or spiritual reading. 

I can easily recommend this volume and look forward to reading others in the set. Another great resource from Father Mike and Ascension.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2024 Catholic Reading Plan

Books By Father Mike Schmitz:
Made for Love: Same-Sex Attraction and the Catholic Church
Quick Catholic Lessons with Fr. Mike

Contributed to:
Pray, Decide, and Don't Worry: Five Steps to Discerning God's Will
Don't Be Afraid to Say Yes to God! Pope Francis Speaks to Young People

Audio Talks by Father Mike Schmitz:
Living Life by Design, Not by Default
Love - Sacrifice - Trust He Showed Us the Way
From Love, By Love, For Love
True Worship
The Four Last Things
Jesus Is …
Changed Forever - The Sacrament of Baptism
We Must Go Out - The Sacrament of Confirmation

Are You Saved - Fr Mike Schmitz Homilies Collection

Ordinary Time - Fr Mike Schmitz Homilies Collection

Untroubled by the Unknown - Fr Mike Schmitz Homilies Collection

It's Personal - Fr Mike Schmitz Homilies Collection

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