Learning to live in the power of the Holy Spirit
“There have been mercy nights across the diocese where people have encountered the Holy Spirit in a different way. They feel the embrace of God. They feel the love of God. That immersion in the Holy Spirit happens to some and they come out of it and their life is a bit different,” explained Randy Sowers. “This retreat is a recognition of that and a furthering of what we’ve experienced.”
“We will learn once again how to live in the power of the Holy Spirit by being more attentive to those barriers in our lives that prevent the Holy Spirit from having his way with us,” added Father Mark McCormick, Chaplain for the weekend. “We will learn how to praise and worship the Lord in adoration, unabashedly. We will also have a chance to reflect more deeply on the Kerygma — the good news of Jesus Christ.”
Sowers is one of the speakers at the “Living in the Holy Spirit — A Retreat for Going Deeper into the Life in the Spirit,” held at Terra Sancta April 21-23. The three-day retreat begins at 7 p.m. on Friday night and runs through 11 a.m. on Sunday. Presenters include Dr. Carole Brown; Debbie Johnson; Sr. Sara Kowal, SCJTM; Fr. Bryan Sorenson; and Randy Sowers; and the Chaplain for the weekend is Fr. Mark McCormick.
Sessions include Laying the Foundations (Kerygma Talk), Our Lady of the Holy Spirit, The Gifts of the Holy Spirit, Barriers to the Holy Spirit, The Holy Spirit in Daily Life and Personal Prayer, Praying as a Group. There will also be time for reconciliation, Mass, prayer time, adoration, and healing.
According to Sowers, the first talk is a foundational explanation of what to do once you’ve encountered the Holy Spirit, how it’s part of faith, and how it fits within the church. Another session is about Mary and how she lived in the Spirit. “Mary, our Mother, said let it be done to me according to your word and God, the most high, overshadowed Mary and the Holy Spirit came upon Mary,” explained Father McCormick. “She conceived Jesus in her womb, the one we call Emmanuel, the one to save us from our sins.”
An explanation of the gifts and how to discern what they are and how the Holy Spirit is moving through those gifts will be the focus of a third presentation.
The final talk on Saturday will focus on barriers. “If you’ve gone to Mercy Nights or anything similar, and you don’t feel anything, you don’t sense anything, is there a barrier that’s been put in place of forgiveness, or ignorance of God’s will or his word?” said Sowers.
When Sowers first encountered the Holy Spirit, he was unsure of how to use his gift, but slowly he was able to find his path. As part of the original “Life in the Spirit” classes he was taught to listen to the Lord and how to pray to find healing. After struggling with depression and anxiety he sat down in prayer with another “Life in the Spirit” participant and they began to explore what might be causing the emotional pain he was experiencing. “I didn’t even really realize what was going on and it was being revealed in this image of Mary and Jesus. What I saw and experienced changed my life. It healed me, and now I help others find that healing.”
The fifth and sixth talks are on living life in the Spirit day-to-day. “If you have a gift, you shouldn’t just use it when you need to pray with somebody. Right? That’s a gift for your own. Incorporate that in your daily prayer life,” Sowers said.
He gave the example of a person that keeps coming to the front of your thoughts. Life in the Spirit will help to discern why their name keeps entering your thoughts and what you should do. “Do I need to call them? Maybe they just need quick prayer,” he said. “Just learn the different ways the Holy Spirit interacts with you throughout the day.”
Following the weekend retreat, Sowers hopes that participants will be able to participate in a 21-day prayer challenge ending on Pentecost Sunday. “We aren’t just going to train them and send them out blind. We’re going to give you some direction into how to do this purposefully in your day-to-day prayer life.”
Participants are asked to bring a Bible, journal, and a rosary. Mass will be celebrated daily and there will be an opportunity for confession and a Mercy Night.
“The hope is that we can start these little fires throughout the diocese,” said Sowers. “This is such a beautiful way to encounter God’s love and mercy.”
“The Holy Spirit always surprises us,” agreed Father Mark. “Our prayer is that there will be many surprises in this Living in the Holy Spirit retreat. And that the surprises will drive us more deeply into the heart of Christ, to live more deeply in him and in one another.”
To register for the retreat, visit terrasancta.org/event/living-in-the-holy-spirit/