Music and the Gospel: “The Greatest,” Sia

SPIRIT this week explores ways the Holy Spirit moves in us—in our failures and regrets as well as our gold stars and friendships. Sometimes we sense the Spirit stirring during quiet contemplation. The Spirit risks new friendships with us or pushes to give our best to a challenge. Sia’s song “The Greatest” is all about connecting with an animating presence greater than ourselves, pushing and staying motivated against all obstacles, and embracing life.

Key Lines: Hey, I am the truth / Hey, I am the wisdom of the fallen – I’m the youth / Hey, I am the greatest / Hey, this is the proof / Hey, I work hard, pray hard, pay dues, hey / I transform with pressure, I’m hands-on with effort / I fell twice before my bounce back was special / Letdowns will get you, and the critics will test you / But the strong will survive, another scar may bless you, ah

Questions: When have you pushed yourself beyond old limits to new ones? When have you experienced being part of something greater than yourself?

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Music and the Gospel: “Let You Down,” NF

This week’s SPIRIT theme is about taking responsibility for the consequences that can result when we make hurtful decisions and break our promises. Sometimes we make risky decisions. I don’t need to study for a test. I stay out a little later than I tell my parents. One drink at a party won’t hurt anything. Then I get busted and have to explain myself to those I respect and care about. Or, on the other hand, I’m the one a friend disappoints and I find the risky choice hard to forgive. NF’s song “Let You Down” is about disappointing someone we respect and love, as well as disappointing ourselves. It’s a reminder that we are ultimately the ones responsible for our decisions and must also deal with the consequences.

Key lines: Feels like we’re on the edge right now / I wish that I could say I’m proud I’m sorry that I let you down / Le-le-let you down / All these voices in my head get loud / I wish that I could shut them out / I’m sorry that I let you down / Le-le-let you down

Questions: When have you felt disappointed in someone? What were the consequences? How did you forgive and move on or did you? What actions do you find difficult to forgive? When have you been forgiven?

Music and the Gospel: “Five Foot Three,” Flannel Graph

In Flannel Graph’s “Five Foot Three,” the singer reflects on her lack of material wealth. She knows the only gift she can give her loved one is the gift of her authentic self. Is the singer merely self-deprecating, or is her humility something deeper? According to St. Teresa of Avila, “to be humble is to walk in truth.” Walking in truth entails understanding ourselves, the world around us, and our relationship to our Creator, and is the key to meaningful prayer.   

Key lines: Oh but I’m quite small and I never have it all together / And I’m just a girl who doesn’t have any diamonds or pearls / But don’t give me your pity ’cause there’s more to life than pretty things / So I’ll just give you me / And I’m not even five foot three

Questions: What is the Pharisee’s attitude toward God? Toward the tax collector? What is the tax collector’s attitude toward God? How is the latter walking in truth, while the former isn’t? How do you walk in truth? 

Music and the Gospel: “Rise Up,” Andra Day

Despairing is easy. Hoping is harder. Working and praying for justice in today’s world can be an arduous task, just as it was for the widow in Jesus’s parable. However, we are called to persist in hope like she did, even against all odds. Andra Day’s song “Rise Up” is an anthem for those who need help remembering that faith can move mountains, if we only keep rising.      

Key lines: And I’ll rise up / High like the waves / I’ll rise up / In spite of the ache / I’ll rise up / And I’ll do it a thousand times again / … When the silence isn’t quiet / And it feels like it’s getting hard to breathe / And I know you feel like dying / But I promise we’ll take the world to its feet / And move mountains / Bring it to its feet / And move mountains

Questions: How can we continue to persist in prayer and action towards justice? Where does our hope come from? How can we support and uplift each other as we rise against our challenges?

Music and the Gospel: “Eustice Scrubb,” by Sarah Sparks

The song “Eustace Scrubb” is inspired by the character of the same name in C.S. Lewis’s novel Voyage of the Dawn Treader. In the book, Eustace repels others with a prickly and snobbish exterior out of his fear of being vulnerable. With the help of kindness and acceptance from a few unexpected friends, he is gradually opened to healing and deep connection. 

Key lines: I tried to change my appearance but I am not changed / I’m just tired / I tried to heal myself long before I met your gaze / At the water / I’m at your feet / Would you tear into the deep of my heart / To heal me?

Questions: When have you experienced outsiders being transformed into close friends? What were the key factors of that transformation? Have you ever been vulnerable with God in prayer? How can you be open to deep connection with God?

Music and the Gospel: “Light On,” Maggie Rogers, 4th Sunday of Lent

Throughout our lives we make many decisions. Some are no-brainers. Some are difficult and scary, even painful and heartbreaking. Spirit follows the inner workings of one young woman’s thought process as she weighs her options, her conscience, and the advice of those around her to make the best choice possible for all involved. The song “Light On” is about finding the inner strength to make difficult, challenging decisions. It’s also an expression of gratitude for all the people in our lives who help us when we need it most.

hen I’ll leave the light on (Light on, light on, light on) / And I am finding out / There’s just no other way / That I’m still dancing at the end of the day

Questions: Think back to a time when you had to make a difficult decision. How did you feel? What options did you see? What reasons went into your choice? What consequences did you see? What resulted from your decision and what did you learn from the experience?

Music and the Gospel: “Second Chances,” Imagine Dragons, 3rd Sunday of Lent

Making mistakes is a part of growing up. Sometimes we learn the hard way that our actions have consequences and affect not only ourselves but also those around us. Not studying for a test may result in a low grade, staying up too late may lead to oversleeping in the morning, inattentive driving can lead to an accident. Consequences can remind us that we are not perfect and teach us how to act responsibly. We all make mistakes and second chances. The song “Second Chances” is about asking for forgiveness, accepting consequences, and learning from our mistakes.

Key Lyrics: Open up again, I believe in second chances / Please let me in, I believe in second chances / I won’t break you, I will not let you down / Open up again, I believe in second chances / Quicker than lightning, whiter than bone / If you can erase it, then I can atone

Questions: When have you needed a second chance? When have you been given a second chance? What did you learn from the experience? When have you given a second chance to someone else? How can you use what you’ve learned to help someone else?

Music and the Gospel: “Walk Me Home,” Pink, 2nd Sunday of Lent

Painful emotions can throw off our sense of self and purpose. Some of us face the challenge, slowly adjust, and move on. Painful experiences push us to grow, expand what we are capable of, and strengthen how we handle things. The song “Walk Me Home” is about moving through a tough time (either by embracing it ourselves or asking for help) and pushing ourselves forward.

Key Lyrics: Walk me home in the dead of night / I can’t be alone with all that’s on my mind, mhm / So say you’ll stay with me tonight / ‘Cause there is so much wrong goin’ on outside / There’s somethin’ in the way I wanna cry / That makes me think we’ll make it out alive / So come on and show me how we’re good / I think that we could do some good, mhm

Questions: What has surprised you lately? How has a painful experience changed your idea of who you are? What did you learn from it? How were you able to move on? How can you use your experience to help others going through something similar?

Music and the Gospel: “Better Than Today,” Rhys Lewis

This week’s SPIRIT tells us the story of Father Tolton, the first African-American priest, whose dedicated ministry wore him out too young. Racism and white privilege persist—Jim Crow laws, current incarceration levels, the death of too many young African Americans. Black Lives Matter. Accepting all who are different from us challenges us every day. Father Tolton gives an inspiring example of persevering against ignorance to serve Black Catholic parishes. The song “Better Than Today” is reminds us all of the strength we have inside of us and create positive change within our community and the people around us.

Key Lyrics: I don’t read the headlines / And I don’t watch the news / ‘Cause silence faith in something every time I do / Well I don’t need to bury / My head in the sand / But I’m just tryna live this life as best as I can / Times get tough / But I don’t give up / ‘Cause I know I’m not alone

Questions: When have you experienced prejudice? How did it make you feel? What did the experience teach you? When have you recognized prejudice in yourself? Who in your school or city have you seen disrespected? How did you handle it? What are some ways you can combat prejudice in your school or city?