Every year Saint Paul’s Outreach – Ohio hosts the Fan into Flame (FIF) retreat, a three-day transformative retreat experience open to college students and young adults. At each retreat, students share their own FIF experiences with their peers through short testimonies. This year, OSU junior Rachel Maddox shared her testimony with the close to 120 individuals who attended FIF 2012.
I’ve been involved with SPO since my freshman year, and I’d like to share with you how it’s impacted my life, especially being part of the community. I came on my first FIF 2 years ago, and at that point in my life I was really searching for a deepening of faith. At the FIF retreat, I saw people around me experiencing a deep relationship with God; a relationship that permeated every aspect of their life. It was evident in the way they loved, the way the praised God with freedom and abandonment, their deep friendships founded in Christ, and their love for life. They were living what they believed, and I wanted that. I wanted a relationship with God like they had, one that permeated my everyday life, one that was authentic.
On Saturday night of the retreat, I invited the Holy Spirit into my life, and asked him to transform it. He did! I specifically prayed for knowledge, unsure exactly what the fruits of that prayer may be. Over these past 2 years, thanks to that prayer, the Lord has been revealing Himself to me little by little each day. I have begun to know the Lord; I have begun to know Him in my heart, and I have the freedom and support to seek after Him.
That support came from the community in Saint Paul’s Outreach, particularly from living in the Women’s Household with other sister in Christ. My peers in the SPO community are calling me on in prayer, encouraging me to go to adoration and mass, teaching me to love by example, challenging me, praising God with me, and going on mission with me.
They know who I am, they know Who I’m seeking and they’re reaching towards heaven with me. And that’s one of the first things I noticed about SPO. These men and women aren’t living their faith by themselves;
they have personal relationships with God, but not a private one. Through the unity found in the SPO community, the Holy Spirit magnified the Lord and all His love and goodness so that I could see and come to know Christ in a deeper way.
I want to end with Psalm 63 which is the theme of my life, of our life:
Oh God, you are my God! For you I long. For You my body yearns, for You my soul thirsts. Like a land parched, lifeless and without water. So I look to You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and glory. For Your love is better than life, and my lips offer You worship.
This kind of faith and love for God is not one I want to live by myself. I want to live it with you. I want to be unified in the Holy Spirit with you. So let’s long for the Lord together. Together, let our bodies be nourished by the Eucharist, unified in the body of Christ. Let’s let Christ quench the thirst in our souls. Let’s call each other on in holiness, and let the praise of the Lord be on our lips - because His love is better than life! Amen!
You can read more on about this year’s Fan into Flame retreat in The Catholic Times this week. Flip to page 15 to reach a re-cap of the retreat!