Friday 22 March 2024

What's Next? Surrendering Your Plans to Jesus - Fr. Mike Schmitz - Homilies Collection

What's Next? 
Surrendering Your Plans to Jesus
Sunday Homilies with Fr Mike Schmitz Collection
ISBN 9781954882201
eISBN 9781954882218

This is the second of 6 volumes currently available in the ‘Sunday Homilies with Fr Mike Schmitz Collection’, that I have read, and it is amazing! Over the last several years I have read and listened to a lot of Father Mike Schmitz’s offerings. This is one of 6 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 6 in the new editions released late in 2023 and early 2024. It is hard tracking down all the works published by Father Mike as they are published under a few 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:

“Letting go of control is not always easy.

Whether it’s about timing, vocation, occupation, or what to eat for their next meal, many people spend their lives asking the question “what’s next?”

What’s Next? Surrendering your Plans to Jesus takes Fr. Mike’s homily series “What’s Next” and transforms it into an easy-to-read and easy-to-digest booklet.

This new booklet in The Sunday Homilies with Fr. Mike Schmitz Collection invites Catholics to surrender their next steps to God and helps them shed the weight of needing to control the future.

In four short chapters, this booklet introduces the reader:

Surrendering control and placing confidence in God 
How to trust that God is providing in the present. 
How to move forward with the future 
And more!

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: Something More than Control
Chapter 2: What Now?
Chapter 3: When the Chips Are Down
Chapter 4: Go With

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. It would be nice is there was a list of the homilies so we could go back and listen to them either in the podcast, youtube, or now even the Ascension App. 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 end of the second chapter is:

If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be? What would you be doing?

To be converted means to become like Jesus. We are like Christ when we live as he did. What are some obstacles to living like Jesus?

How do people who are convinced live differently?

Have you ever been distracted by naysayers or not know what to do? Discuss or journal about an example.

Since you are here, you are likely convinced that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Savior of the world. You may be convicted in your soul that there are changes in your life that need to be made to grow closer to him. But you must allow yourself to be converted, changed, and transformed—and that process starts now.

Instead of focusing on your past mistakes or hopes for the future, begin to allow the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to the life he has given you. Be willing to see the state of your life at this moment, and then be open to being ready for what comes next. Strive to live in the now.

Jesus clearly states that to live in the now and show that we love him, we must obey his commandments. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus commands his disciples to repent, take up their crosses, love one another, pray for their enemies, and preach the Good News, among other things. Each commandment of the Lord demands a decision from each of us now, at the present moment.

As you begin your time of prayer, ask the Lord to show you one thing that you can do now to help solidify your faith, trust, and love for him. Ask for the freedom to serve him and stay close to him. Remember that you are striving to keep God’s commandments so that they form a way that changes how you live!

This week, make a practice of being attentive to the uncertainty and situations that disturb you … and remember that Christ has conquered. So smile in the face of the future.”

Each of the chapters has a section like that at the end. Some longer some shorter. While reading this volume I highlighted a number of passages. Some of them are:

“What’s next?” Isn’t this a question all of us have? Why is this? Because so many of us spend our lives in preparation for the next thing. That is almost what life is about, isn’t it? It’s about preparing for your next step. A good parent prepares their children for what’s next. Throughout the years, they get them ready for school each morning, which prepares them for what comes next. For most, this is earning a college degree or training in a trade, followed by a career. We all need to prepare for what’s next, which means we need to take some action. We need to get ready for what’s coming next. The downside is that this can give us the idea or the notion that we have control over what’s next. Preparation is good, because with preparation we can influence our future. But we cannot control our future. It’s safe to say that we all like a certain amount of control over our lives. But if we think about it for more than five seconds, we recognize that none of us really is in control. We might have the illusion of control, but we aren’t really in control.”

“You see, the moment you take a stand is when, all of a sudden, people do not seem to like you as much. All of a sudden, it is no longer about being nice. It’s about being convinced. It’s about not knowing what comes next.”

“How can the pope go from the Room of Tears to the balcony and have a huge smile? Because he is convinced. Convinced. Not that he was the best person for the job. If the Holy Spirit brought him here, he is convinced that God knows he is not going to wreck everything. He is convinced that the Lord brought him to this moment. And that is why he is able to walk out onto the balcony and smile. He knows he is not in control, but he is convinced.”

“Virtually everything in life is beyond your control. On any given day, you control virtually none of the circumstances around you. From the weather to the moods of those around you to your next heartbeat, you are not in control of the circumstances of daily life. Even your ability to enter into an unbroken, peaceful time of prayer is likely at the mercy of whether you are interrupted by something or someone.”

“If 95 percent of the time, we would rather be somewhere else doing something else, what does that say about our hearts? What does that say about our lives?”

“As we have talked about, many people are getting ready for what’s next. If we live preoccupied with what’s next, though, we miss out on what’s now.”

“There is a difference between being convinced something is good for you and being convicted to do it. When we are convicted, we take action on what we know. Many of us have areas of our life like that. We are convinced that we should stop doing x, but we are not ready to do that—we are not yet convicted to make a change.”

“This message is for all of us. Living right now and doing what’s now gets us ready for what’s next. The Gospel of Luke tells us that Jesus said that everything written about him in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms was true and must be fulfilled. Then the Gospel has this line that says, “He then opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24: 35).”

“The Lord says the same thing to you: “I’m counting on you to be here and to be now and to do what’s now. The world is counting on you.””

“But what if we fail at doing what’s now? If we do the wrong thing, we have a defender in Jesus, who will show up and go to battle for us. Because we do not know what’s next, but we do know what’s now. So how do you do it? You begin. You start with what’s possible. You begin with what’s now. You have absolutely nothing to fear about what’s next.”

“We hear a lot today about being fearless, right? On billboards, we see Be fearless. But that’s a bunch of baloney. Courage is not a willingness to act in the absence of fear. Courage is a willingness to act despite our fear.”

“In fact, C. S. Lewis says that courage is all the other virtues at the point when they are tested. Courage is every virtue the moment that virtue is needed the most. If we do not have courage, we do not actually have any of the virtues.”

“Many people have confidence because they live with faith. They live with faith in their strength. They live with faith in their ability. They live with faith in their intelligence. They live with faith in the hope that things will work out.”

I hope those few quotes give you a feel for this volume. My wife is a huge fan of the TV Series West Wing, in that series President Bartlet often says, ‘What’s next!’ indicating a topic of discussion is done and he is ready to move on. Every time it appeared in this book I heard Marin Sheen’s voice, and I thought that Sheen narrating the audio of this volume would be amazing. This book really hit home for me. It is a volume I hope all three of my teenagers read. And it is a book I wish was around when I was a teen or young adult, I would have greatly benefited from reading it. 

This is a very powerful little volume. It is one I will likely return to again and read again and again. When I was in university, I was involved with Campus Crusade for Christ, there was a series of booklets by the founder Bill Bright, called Transferable Concepts, and by reading them many times you could almost memorize them and the message so that you could share it. This volume reminds me a lot of those books, but specifically geared for Catholics. But to be honest any Christian would benefit from reading this book.

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 as 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. An excellent resource for any Catholic or even any Christian!

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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