Stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands…a spirit of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1)
St. Paul reminds Timothy, and us, of the gift of the Holy Spirit that we have received through the laying on of hands, i.e., through the Sacrament of Confirmation. That Spirit makes us strong, loving and wise. It gives us the power to choose love and self-control over anger, hatred, revenge, jealousy, selfishness, etc. Each of us has that power through the Spirit dwelling in us, but sometimes we have to “stir it to flame,” like a fire that has cooled to ashes, but with hot embers underneath. We stir our faith to flame through weekly Mass attendance, as well as by going to Bible Study and prayer groups.
Occasionally we are encouraged to go on a retreat, where we have a special opportunity to stir to flame the gift of faith and renew our love of God. Retreats of different kinds are often available at Mission San Luis Rey or the Prince of Peace Abbey, both in Oceanside, as well as Whispering Winds, a Catholic Youth Camp in Julian. We send our youth on retreats to get them fired up for the faith and especially in preparation for Confirmation. Couples preparing for marriage are usually asked to go on a retreat in preparation not just for the wedding day, but for the life-long journey of matrimony. Going on retreat gets us out of our normal daily environment and allows us to open up to God and others on a new level.
The priests of the Diocese just came back from our annual Convocation in Temecula. This is our yearly retreat, where we are inspired by the speakers who share with us the vision of priesthood; we are strengthened in our identity as Diocesan priests by celebrating Mass together each day with our Bishop; and we support each other in our priestly ministry and our life challenges by sharing time together.