Apr 17, 2024 by Colleen C Orchanian

The Easter Vigil Mass begins at a charcoal fire outside the church. The Easter Candle is lit with that fire and the priest proclaims that the people in darkness have seen a great light. The Easter Candle is then used to light other smaller candles held by those at the Mass until everyone has a lit candle. As we enter the darkened church, it is filled with the light from our candles – bringing light into the darkness.

Fire has great meaning in Scripture. Moses heard God’s call from the burning bush. Flames of fire descended on the apostles at the Feast of Pentecost when they received the Holy Spirit. Fire is a symbol of the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes the fire of the Holy Spirit isn’t visible, even though God is present. We don’t see the fire but we feel it in our hearts. The disciples on the road to Emmaus were walking with Jesus but didn’t recognize him. They said later, Were not our hearts burning inside when he opened the scriptures to us?

Paul writes in Romans 12:11 that we should not be slothful in zeal but fervent in spirit. In Revelation, we read about the church in Laodicea that is lukewarm, and consequently, Jesus says he will spit them out of his mouth. We are not supposed to be lukewarm but on fire. The Holy Spirit can come upon us in the same way as he did with the apostles on Pentecost. And they were definitely on fire!

We all know people who are on fire. They are filled with the Holy Spirit and God’s love shines through them beautifully. Their conversations about God come naturally because He is always on their mind. They are encouraging when others are struggling because they have such trust in God that they know He is with them in their most difficult times.

When I finish leading a retreat, I’m on fire. I’ve had the great gift to speak about God for hours and I love it! I feel joy and excitement, like walking on air. I’m basking in the light of the Holy Spirit. But even when I don’t have the feeling of excitement, I am still on fire because God is always on my mind.

I’m on fire for God and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Nothing can take us higher than the Holy Spirit, but we often seek that high elsewhere - drugs, alcohol, people, sporting events. None of these satisfy because we’re trying to fill a need for God with something of the world. It’s impossible.

In every church, some people are there on Sunday but are not on fire. They have a habit of going to church, which is a good habit, but they haven’t been transformed. They aren’t on fire. Why not?

They don’t know that it’s possible. They think zealous faith is for saints with a capital S. But regular, ordinary people, not so much. We know that’s a lie of satan because God calls all of us to be saints. He takes ordinary people and by grace makes them – us – extraordinary.

They are afraid. Some think that people on fire for God are too extreme. They get ridiculed, lose friends, and sometimes get arrested for refusing to violate their faith. Those in power can punish them. The underlying fear is rejection of the people whose opinion matters to them. They are chasing after approval from the world, which is meaningless. Do we want to please God or men?

They doubt their faith and don’t want to step out when they feel like they aren’t good enough yet – they feel like a hypocrite. They have some fire but don’t think they know enough to speak up. The enemy – satan – is telling them to cool down that fire until they are more spiritually mature. We know that’s a lie because the Samaritan woman at the well, who had only moments before met Jesus, ran back to town to spread the news of her amazing encounter with the Messiah. She was on fire.

How do we stoke the fire of faith? First, we have to realize that the fire is a gift of God. I can’t create that fire by my own willpower. But I can surely ask for it! And I can be open to receiving it and allow God to transform me by it. Or I can resist God. People do it all the time.

If you want more fire, read the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. Ask God to speak through the Scriptures and break into your heart. Read some of the classics from our spiritual fathers and mothers: Augustine, Therese of Lisieux, Teresa of Avila, and Catherine of Siena. Countless saints have shared their conversations with God and shown us how they opened their hearts to let God in and light a fire. When you read their words, you will hunger and thirst for the fire. Then you will be ready and God will give you that grace.

If you’re already on fire, praise God! See what God wants to do with and through you. What light are you bringing into the world? How are you spreading the fire of the Holy Spirit? Pray about how God wants you to share your faith. God can use your fire to witness to others, to encourage someone, to lovingly call another person to repentance, to teach, to serve. There are a thousand different ways to bring the fire of God’s love into the world. So do it!

Pray that God will light a fire in your soul and keep it burning until you rest with Him in Heaven. That is a prayer He will always answer.

Questions for prayer:

  1. When has the fire of God’s love felt strongest? What was happening in your life at that time?

  2. What can you do to stoke the fire today?