“For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.” 2 Tim. 1:6-8
The first few days of February brought us to the Fan Into Flame retreat in Ohio. What an incredible time it was! The Holy Spirit worked powerfully in the students lives and there was so much visible transformation in them over the weekend. We arrived at the retreat center on Friday evening and after getting through all the practical details, we dove into the series of talks – the first one being “Jesus Christ is Lord.” This talk prepared the students to take a deeper look at their own relationship with Christ. We were reminded of our purpose – that we were created to share by knowledge and love in God’s own life, and that of all visible creatures, only man is able to know and love his creator. What a gift this is!
For the weekend, the students were divided into small groups of 4-6 students, which provided the opportunity for questions, reflection, and discussion of the material given through the talks. I led a wonderful small group of women that included students from West Virginia, Ohio, and New Jersey! Our discussions were very open and lively; we talked a lot about how to practically apply what we were hearing into our everyday lives. I was also asked (mid-January) to give one of the talks during the weekend, which was a great joy for me. I thoroughly enjoy sharing how Christ has worked in my life! It was a privilege to give encouragement and tangible ways of turning towards the Lord to receive what he desires for us. On Saturday, several hours were set aside in the afternoon to respond to God in prayer, and we had 7 additional priests join us to offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation. There was such an abundance of grace given during that time, and you could truly feel it – the peace, the reverence, the gratitude towards God. After dinner, we had our prayer meeting – and this was an incredibly powerful evening of prayer! We first spent some time praising the Lord, and then split into our small groups to pray for each-other. During this time, each one of us had an opportunity to bring our needs and requests to God out loud, and the rest of the group would back up her prayer and intercede on her behalf. The Lord answered in so many ways – strength, courage, peace, freedom, joy… He came in such a way that we were able to experience his presence and see it change us. We then moved back into a time of praise, and the students lifted their hands and voices up to thank God and declare the goodness of his love and promises. I closed my eyes for a few moments and just listened to the beauty of 120 people giving glory to God. Wow, it was exalting! Then Sunday morning flew by with Mass, a “what do we do now?” talk, making resolutions in our small groups, a time for sharing testimonies, lunch, and then we were back on the road. Looking back, it is mind-boggling to think of how much was packed into the weekend and all of the wonderful things that came out of it. Thank you for all of your prayers!
West Virginia was a winter wonderland when we returned!
So now – Lent has begun and we have entered into the 40 days where we fast, reflect, repent, and prepare the way for the risen Christ. I will be giving up meat, and increasing my daily prayer time by 30 minutes. What are you doing for Lent?