Going into February us students here in AZ were slowly starting to get into the full swing of school: tests, quizzes, and lots of homework. These things require a lot of hard work and discipline, which segues me perfectly into my thoughts about the beginning of my Lent. I’m going to be honest, Lent caught me a little off guard this year. Of course I knew it was that time of year, but I was just wrapped up in the chaos of the college student life. I felt like I hadn’t set aside enough time to prepare my heart for Lent. This is why the SPO Fan into Flame retreat could not have come at a more perfect time! This retreat truly readied my heart for Lent.
The AZ Fan into Flame retreat was the weekend of the 16th-18th and it was an unforgettable experience to say the least. This retreat is called Fan into Flame because it puts a focus on the Holy Spirit - "For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God" 2 Timothy 1:6. What we engaged on the retreat was the fact that the sacraments instill the Holy Spirit in us but it is our job to invite the Holy Spirit in. To put it in metaphorical terms, its like chocolate milk: the Holy Spirit, like chocolate syrup, has been poured into us, the milk, but unless you stir it up, it won’t become chocolate milk, meaning we won't become His disciple with out this "stirring up" of the Holy Spirit (I stole this analogy from someone’s talk at the retreat so I can’t take credit). Anyway, it takes our action to call upon the Holy Spirit and ask him to be working in our lives, and that is exactly what we did at this retreat.
We had the opportunity to pray over one another in our small groups. Things like speaking in tongues, the gifts of peace and laughter were all things that we experienced together. Some people for the first time in their life! Praise the Lord.
Speaking for myself, this retreat brought me healing and understanding from the Lord. He opened my eyes to a place in my heart where I really needed Him to work. The best part is that I am not the only one who experienced something like this. I know that everyone on this retreat had their own unique experience with God, and that is something so special. Thank the Lord for all the amazing leaders that we had on this retreat! Without them it would not have been possible. Moving forward from the retreat, I am continuing Lent with a new outlook: The Lord truly knows our hearts and He will show us all things in his time. Thanks be to God that He loves us unconditionally.
Oh, and I almost forgot... we had lots of fun hanging out in fellowship and playing sports together. Within two hours I managed to play full, competitive games of volleyball, ultimate frisbee, and basketball. It was pretty dope.
Overall, February has been a great month for SPO AZ with lots of opportunities to grow, dive into community, and be on on mission while being in the midst of the chaos of the college student life.
- Claire Carmody, Freshman Formation Member of SPO AZ