SPO Texas hit the ground running this semester with a challenging retreat called Two Kingdoms at War. Close to 50 students ventured into the quiet woods of Crossroads Retreat Center in Caldwell, TX, where they were empowered to enter the spiritual battle that’s been raging around them all their lives.
“As Christians, we have always been at war, but we don’t live that way,” said Br. Ken Apuzzo, General Superior of the Brotherhood of Hope. There’s a kingdom of light and a kingdom of darkness, and unless we plant our flag in one of the two camps, we’re in the crossfire.
Through listening to talks, discussing the content in small groups and praying with one another in Adoration on Saturday night, the students were propelled into a greater awareness of spiritual warfare, tactics used for or against them and strategies to fight back for their souls. Equipped with knowledge and grace, they shed baggage that held them back from more fully surrendering their lives to the Lord, and banded together as one community united in Christ.
At the end of the retreat, we opened the floor for our participants to give glory to God for the works he did in them over the weekend. Here are some of the things that were shared:
“This was my first retreat ever, and it was really eye opening for me, being able to accept the Lord in a different way than I ever thought possible.”
“I’m going to be a FOCUS missionary when I graduate, and it’s been a big struggle with my parents and it’s given me a lot of doubts, and this weekend the Lord God has really given me a strong conviction that this is what I want to do and I want to lead men closer to Christ. It’s taken a lot of fears out of the way and I’m ready to serve the Lord.”
“This weekend, I just want to thank the Lord because, through his grace I was allowed to set myself free, because I was holding myself back, and now he gave me the grace to want to live a radical life for him and to want to love people even if I don’t know them. To God be the glory!”
“[God]’s done many many things for me this weekend but I’d say mostly he has freed me from myself and freed me from this concept of perfection and expectation that I had for myself. I think it’s easy as Catholics to fall into the rules and regulations and traditions that we have and forget that the Lord is simply asking for our hearts, and simply asking for us to seek him and that’s enough–and if we seek him, he can pour out his Holy Spirit into us so we can serve him and fight this battle in a community as he made us to.”
“I think what the Lord showed me is that, I’ve been in SPO for about two or three years now, and I’m about to start my relationship with all of y’all. The Lord really called me out and told me, ‘you’re isolating yourself. They don’t know you, and they want to.’ So here’s to a new start.”
“God works in mysterious ways. Last semester I had Gabi in my sociology class and we didn’t speak until the very end of the semester but honestly, I would not be here if I hadn’t met her in sociology class, and I’m here and I don’t want to leave. I have never met a group of people like you guys and I am so happy.”
“I just wanted to give glory to God, kind of echoing what Br. Ken said in one of his talks–it’s worth it. A year ago at this time, the Lord was asking me to make some hard decisions, giving up particular things that I liked and was comfortable with, just asking me to trust him; and I had never heard of San Marcos, I had never heard of Texas State, I didn’t know a single one of you in the room… and to go from being a complete stranger to the Lord giving me such a gift of community and friends and amazing brothers and sisters in the Lord just speaks to the miracles and goodness that the Lord has for us. As an encouragement, I just want to give glory to God for being a faithful father, and I invite you all to continue to say yes to him because he doesn’t disappoint.”
I had two primary roles on this retreat. The first was coordinating photography, as usual. I teamed up with one of the Household students, Xzavier, to get some extra help and also to empower him in embracing his gifts has a photographer. We made a good team!
My second role was to write and present the final talk of the retreat. It was called Being A People, and was all about how if we enter the spiritual battle alone, we aren’t going to win. Christian community is a key factor to success in fully entering into radical discipleship for Christ. If you want to listen to the talk, shoot me an email and I’ll send the recording your way!
Until next time,