February 29, 2024 // Diocese

Father Mike Schmitz Speaks on Relationships at Notre Dame

There’s a joke about a husband who turns to his wife and says, “You’re welcome.”

“For what?” the wife asks.

“For the rib,” the husband responds (referencing the Biblical story that Eve was made from the rib of Adam).

“Well, you were made from dirt,” the wife responds.

Father Mike Schmitz contextualized the joke in terms of human relationship: “We always ask who’s better.”

Photos by Kasia Balsbaugh
Attendees listen intently during Father Mike Schmitz’s talk at the University of Notre Dame on Saturday, February 24.

Father Schmitz, a priest of the Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota, who is well known for his videos on social media and as host of the “Bible in a Year” and “Catechism in a Year” podcasts, came to speak at the University of Notre Dame on Saturday, February 24. His talk, “Life After the Apple: How to Love After the Fall,” targeted the difficulty of man-woman relationships in our broken world.

Collette Doyle is a junior at Notre Dame and Chief of Staff of the Notre Dame student government, which was responsible for bringing Father Mike Schmitz to campus to speak. She said they have been planning for the event since last summer. The stakes were high, as last year’s speaker was Bishop Robert Barron, Founder of the Catholic media apostolate Word on Fire. “We wanted to bring a notable speaker,” Doyle said, adding, “I’m so glad that it all worked out.”

Father Mike Schmitz speaks, Bible in hand, during his talk, “Life After the Apple: How to Love After the Fall.”

Father Schmitz spoke to a packed audience in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, with pews and seating filled and dozens more people standing in the back of the church. Many attendees were students, but many were families and others from Notre Dame and the broader community.

At one point in the talk, Father Schmitz read the opening of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

“That is not true,” Father Schmitz said. “Not because we’re not created equal, but because the first line is, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident.’ Look around the room. It is not self-evident that we’re all equal. … Some people are stronger than others, some people are taller than others, some people are smarter than others. … Then along comes this truth revealed to us – not self-evident but revealed to us – that says no matter who you are, or where you come from, your health or your sickness, your intelligence or your lack of intelligence, your strength or your weakness, no matter if you’re male or female, no matter your ethnicity or race, no matter – no matter anything, you’ve been created on purpose, good, and in God’s very image. And that idea, we would never know this without Genesis Chapter 1.”

Father Schmitz then walked through the first chapters of the Genesis story, adding commentary and humor as he went along. He described the Book of Genesis as “written from the eyes of a lover, from the eyes of a poet.” Father Schmitz also dwelt on the love Adam and Eve had for each other before the fall. He described the way Adam thought of Eve: “She’s worth fighting for. She’s worth loving. She’s worth choosing.”

“This is how it was in the beginning,” Father Schmitz said.

After talking about the serpent’s lies and the Fall – the rejection of God by humans – Father Schmitz addressed the lies we still tell ourselves. Men, he said, often experience the lie, “You’re not enough; you need something to prove.” Women, he said, often experience the lie, “You’re not worth loving the way that you are.” After discussing how loving parents and spouses can quiet those lies, Father Schmitz added that turning to God, the One who loves us most, can ultimately silence those lies we tell ourselves.

“When that lie gets loud, look at the crucifix,” Father Schmitz urged. “And ladies, see, that’s what you’re worth. You’ve already been chosen. … Men, look at the crucifix. He trusts you. He believes in you. He says, ‘You have what it takes.’ But what’s it going to take? Well, from now on, love after the Fall, it always involves sacrifice. Every time. It’s going to take everything you have. But none of it is going to be wasted.”

Maureen Schweninger, a Notre Dame graduate student,
said this was her first time seeing Father Schmitz speak in person, though she’s been aware of him for years. She said the experience was “unreal” to an extent she had not anticipated. “He has the most profound and obvious charism for preaching that I have ever known in person,” Schweninger said. “And I frankly did not expect that.”

Holy Cross Professor Laura LeGare, who saw Father Schmitz speak at the University of Notre Dame four years ago, said they were very similar experiences, including how packed the venue was both times Father Schmitz came. “He’s very relatable, but what he says packs a punch and is so true,” LeGare said. “It speaks to a lot of people’s experiences, I think.”

Father Schmitz’s talk was livestreamed and is available to watch on YouTube at bit.ly/48yqNJU.

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