Photo by Elena Mirus
“For spiritual growth, we have to get out of our comfort zones. The Crucifixion wasn’t exactly a cake walk,” said junior Blaise Smith, a previous Born of the Spirit retreatant.
BOS is a semesterly retreat that allows students to learn more about the Holy Spirit and grow in a deeper relationship with him. BOS can seem daunting and strange to some students, making them hesitant to go on it. Such was the case for Smith when he attended the retreat his freshman year.
“If you love your partner, your boyfriend or girlfriend, you go on dates to get to know them,” Smith said. “We should do the same thing with the Holy Spirit. He calls us to be with him in intimacy.”
Smith, who had recently converted to Catholicism, had been looking for this intimacy with God. But an experience with Pentecostals had left a bad taste in his mouth so he was reluctant to accept the Charismatic Renewal.
Encouraged by his household brothers, Smith decided to attend the retreat regardless of his past experience.
Since the style of the retreat is based on the Renewal, he felt very out of his element. But he liked information from the talks even though he didn’t like how they were saying it.
For Smith, the turning point of the retreat was the Saturday night praise and worship. He asked one of the prayer team members to pray with him for an openness to the Spirit.
He said it was like the encounter Elijah had with the Lord. It was like a still, small voice and he knew it was good he was there and he needed to continue to abide by the Catholic Church.
Even for students who are accustomed to the Renewal, BOS can enlighten its participants and help them form a new relationship with the Holy Spirit and other persons of the Trinity.
“I’ve just always grown up in the Charismatic Renewal,” said junior Juliet Sidone, core team member. “(BOS) was just really life changing and being able to experience the Holy Spirit as a person and not just some bird.”
“It’s just really beautiful being able to see the Trinity become one and how … the Holy Spirit is so prevalent as well,” Sidone said.
Sidone also said that God the Father had always felt distant until the Father talk during BOS, when she was able to relate God to her own dad, with whom she has a good relationship.
During the Saturday night prayer session, the retreatants experience prayer for baptism in the Spirit.
Sidone said, “I had never experienced that. I was baptized but not baptized in the Spirit.”
Participants have the opportunity to pray with prayer team members and ask for specific charisms — or gifts — of the Holy Spirit. Sidone said she had opened herself to receiving the gift of images.
“Being able to ask for a gift was very nerve-racking, but I … asked for the gift of images,” she said. “It allowed me to pray in a new way.”
Senior Greg Schratz, another member of this semester’s core team, also experienced a new way to pray from the Saturday night session after being invited to receive the gift of prayer tongues.
“That was something I was very uncomfortable with and I didn’t want to fake, but I found that the more I went on retreat … there was something in me that started to open up,” he said.
“Miracles … happen more often than we think,” Schratz said. “I have seen God do incredible things to core team and retreatants.”
The Rev. Matt Russick, TOR, leads the retreat every semester and said the retreat is focused on being baptized in the spirit, a concept based off of the Greek word baptizein, which means “to immerse.”
Russick said that the retreat is about putting Christ at the center of each participant’s life as a commitment to Jesus as lord of their lives. It allows them to be open to the spiritual gifts to build up the kingdom, Russick said.
The BOS retreat will be held in Finnegan Fieldhouse from Nov. 6-8 and registration can be found online at https://bosfall2020.eventbrite.com.
“If you think it’s awkward, embrace it! Embrace it like crucifixion, because after every crucifixion comes a resurrection and exaltation,” Smith said.