Father Michael Schmitz has become a highly recognized Catholic speaker over the past few years. A priest of the Diocese of Duluth, he has become known mostly through his online presence. Most recently along with Ascension Press, he launched a podcast titled “The Bible in a Year.” It quickly became the number one ranked podcast.
Tonight, Father Michael addressed the thousands of SEEK21 participants from the University of Minnesota Duluth where he is the chaplain. I was reminded of his very rapid speech and fervent excitement.
His talk revolved around the issue of fatherhood. He shared intimately about the difficulties he experienced growing up in relating to his father – where his father loved him but he did not want his love. He genuinely believed that he was not the son his father wanted, while his father was proud of him all along.
Relating the well-known Parable of the Prodigal Son, he stressed that we overestimate what it takes to return to the Father. The prodigal son returns to his father for the wrong reason, because he was hungry, but that is enough for the father to welcome him. God not only tolerates us, but loves us. Father Schmitz rightly pointed out that we believe many things as Catholics, but that many times we fail to believe an essential reality: do I believe that the Father loves me?
When the older son became angry in the parable, the father sought him out. Father Michael noted that the older son was obedient but remained distant from the father just like the younger son. The father invites the older son into the house also – an invitation to be loved by the father.
He finally invited the attendees to allow themselves to be seen by the Father, in particular in Eucharistic Adoration. To be seen by the Father in the same way that he beheld his two sons in the parable. “Let him look at you tonight. Give the Father permission to celebrate you,” he stressed. He left us with these two questions: “Does God have your permission to truly see you as you are? Does He have permission to love you as you are?”