Jesus tells us “…Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you and pray for those who insult you.” Jesus values compassion towards all, from our family and friends, to those we consider enemies, to those we know nothing about at all. In the case of people who hurt us, this can be a difficult challenge. Keep in mind that we don’t always know why people behave the way they do. Kari Jobe’s song “Closer to Your Heart” is about embracing an attitude of compassion. When we do this, we live more like Jesus did and can create positive change in our schools and communities.
Key Lyrics: I get lost inside this wonder / Cause there’s so much to discover /New dimensions of your glory / And I’ve only seen a glimpse / You keep drawing me, you keep drawing me / Closer to your heart / You keep calling me, you keep calling me / Closer to your heart
Questions: When have you experienced an unexpected act of compassion? When have you extended compassion to someone else? What did you see that made you extend a hand to them? How can you spread an attitude of compassion around your school and community? What kind of communities will Jesus’ teaching create? What is a way you practice loving your enemies?
The love of a beloved family member or friend often anchors our lives in ways we don’t see. A loss can change family dynamics and how we see ourselves. When we lose someone we love, it rocks our world and its stability. It can be hard when other people are sympathetic and more polite than usual because it surfaces the feelings of loss. However, no matter what we go through, we have a capacity for resilience within us to work through loss and change. Wild Nothing’s song “Blue Wings” is about recognizing our own inner strength, sometimes with the help of people around us. Blessings can come from the most unexpected places or during the saddest of times.
Key Lyrics: All my fears in a steam room stall / I sweat and sweat ’til I’ve had enough / ‘Til I’m in first place / ‘Til our horse comes out ahead / And my chest is full / Blue wings to lift me up / Heartbeat stops, you lift me up / Under the wire comes my love
Questions: When have you experienced a loss? How has it affected you? How has the loss affected the way people see you? When have you been unexpectedly blessed? How can you bless other people? Read the Sunday Gospel on page 3 of this week’s SPIRIT Issue. How do the poor, sorrowing, hungry, and persecuted bless us? How can you be a blessing to them?
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?
1. Free Downloads! Teens created this cross of Lenten practices. We invite you to download, print, and distribute it at goodgroundpress.com. We also have other free downloads and activities for teens and their families on our Lent Resources page.
2. Online Retreats Is there a teen in your life who needs to pray? A Confirmation candidate who missed the Confirmation retreat? A young person struggling with God or Church, or both?
We have two teen-tested short online retreats that can help. Review them below. Then forward the link or this email to the teen you are thinking of. Our prayers go with them.
• Life Is a Puzzle: A “Pieceful” Retreat
• Psalm 139: O God, You Know Me
Other resources for teens are on our website — goodgroundpress.com.
Food in the fridge, money in our bank accounts, security of a home, and the loving protection of our family and friends—these easily make us forget that not everyone has stable home and family environments, education, or financial resources. Jesus aims to free people from poverty and reach out to all his mission. We can begin with respect for all, interest in who each person is, and expanding our circles of friends. “Swan Song” is about holding on to hope, even in the bleakest of moments, and breaking free from all that holds us back from reaching our fullest potential.
Key Lyrics: I, I can’t lie / I’m scared to open my eyes / ‘Cause what if I find nothing at all? / Nothing at all / What is the point of my lips / If they don’t make noise? Oh / What is the point of doing nothing at all? / Watching it fall / ….This is not a, this is not a / Swan, swan song / We just gotta, we just gotta hold on tonight / This is not a, this is not a / Swan song, swan song / Swan dive (Yeah) / It’s a new life
Questions: When you look around your school and community, what communities do you see lacking necessities, such as food, clothing, shelter? Who can you greet and show you know them? What community projects can you get involved in or start to help encourage those who need a helping hand?
Currently, immigration dominates our news headlines and politics. Poverty, violence, war, displacement, no work—all can force people to move. These conditions separate many refugees and immigrants from families and friends for long periods of time. They have to navigate cultures, laws, and languages that they don’t know. They start anew in the hope of achieving a better future for themselves and their families. The song “You Belong” reminds us that everyone belongs and deserves the chance to thrive.
Key Lyrics: You belong / The whole world is waiting / No one else can sing your song / You belong / The lie that’s been chasing you / Love’s gonna prove it wrong / Open your eyes / Breathe in the light / You don’t have to hide / You belong
Questions: Visit un.org to learn more about why people may be forced to immigrate. How can you reach out to new students or neighbors different from you? Whose voices in your school or community are others not hearing? When do you listen to the voices of people who appear different from you?
Relationships with others become more complex as we mature. Some friendships end, some deepen. We develop crushes, pair up, break up, figure out how to make relationships work. This week’s SPIRIT discusses what it means to have healthy, strong relationships and, eventually, marriage. The song “Love Someone” is about what it means to open your heart and love.
Key Lyrics: ‘Cause you still look perfect as days go by / Even the worst ones, you make me smile / I’d stop the world if it gave us time / ‘Cause when you love someone / You open up your heart / When you love someone / You may grow / If you love someone
Questions: What does being in a relationship mean to you? What qualities are important in a relationship? What makes for a healthy relationship? What warns you a relationship isn’t healthy? What does “love” mean to you?