There are far too few natural orators in the world who can match Fr. Mike Schmitz. For years, and long before he ever began the “Bible in a Year” and “Catechism in a Year” podcasts that launched him to international fame, Fr. Mike has been producing videos that speak to the heart of Catholicism in conversational tones everyone can understand. His ruminative reflections routinely leave us with new perspectives that enrich our understanding of the faith, while opening avenues of thought we’d never considered.
There may be no finer example of this than his video titled, “Confession Is a Place of Victory,” released on the Ascension Presents YouTube channel, in 2020. Everything about this video is beautiful: from the Catholic musings Fr. Mike expresses, to the impeccably lit church in which he stands, and even the finely animated artistic renderings peppered throughout.
The video answers the question, “What is the priest thinking when you make your confession,” but Fr. Mike gives us a whole lot more to think about, in just eight minutes.
Fr. Mike effortlessly weaves his own experiences into his explanation, which keeps the viewer engaged with the personal touch. He opens up with a story of his conversation with a woman who suggested that it must be hard for a priest to hear confessions, spending hours confronted with the sins of his congregants. However, Fr. Mike disagreed explaining that he has found the confessional to be one of the most joyful, humbling, and inspiring places to be.
He said that there are three things that he sees when he hears confessions, and the first is “the costly mercy of God in action.”
“There are so many people who go through their entire lives and they’ve never encountered the reality of God’s love that he gave to us through the Cross. But in Confession, I see people who are discouraged who are lifted up, I see people who are wounded who are healed, I see people who are lost who are found, and I get to see that every single day.”
Fr. Schmitz continued that the second thing he sees is “people who are trying.”
“Whenever someone walks through that confessional door, I don’t care if it’s their third confession that week, I see someone who has not given up. It is so encouraging and inspiring. It is not a place of discouragement or a place of failure. Sin is the place of failure, but going into Confession and saying ‘I’m not going to give up on the God who won’t give up on me.” That’s a place of victory, and again, I get to see that every day.”
Here he briefly touches upon whether or not a priest remembers what is said in the confessional. Fr. Mike states simply “basically no.” He elucidates that sins are the equivalent of garbage and he humbly compares the priest to “God’s garbageman.” He notes that one does not often see a garbage man sifting through the trash as though it’s interesting, rather they toss it into the truck and move on.
Finally we reach the third thing that Fr. Mike sees when he hears Confession: “My own heart.”
“I can’t tell you how often I am absolutely humbled when I hear someone come to Confession and they recognize something in their life that I have never recognized in mine, but it’s there. It’s a really amazing and humbling examination of conscience, because it reveals my heart. It reveals the heart of a priest.”
All of these incredible Catholic reflections only take us about halfway through the video. It’s hard for a transcription to capture just what makes Fr. Mike’s talk so touching, as it’s a product of his earnest and genuine speaking tones, and his excited, approachable expressions as he explores Catholic thought. We can’t recommend strongly enough that every Catholic should watch videos from Fr. Mike Schmitz for their ability to strike a spark and ignite our faith to burn brighter than ever.