Music and the Gospel: “Scars To Your Beautiful,” Alessia Cara, 2nd Sunday of Lent

This week’s Spirit tackles our ideas of self-image and beauty. High school can be a difficult time. A lot of personal and social changes are taking place; we’re constantly trying to fit in and fit an image of who we think we should be and who people will accept. Trying to live up to these expectations can make us act in ways that aren’t in our best interests. Alessia Cara’s song “Scars To Your Beautiful” is a song that reminds us that we’re all beautiful regardless of who might say otherwise.

Key Lyrics: But there’s a hope that’s waiting for you in the dark / You should know you’re beautiful just the way you are / And you don’t have to change a thing, the world could change its heart / No scars to your beautiful, we’re stars and we’re beautiful

Questions: What is your idea of perfection? How are your self-expectations different from social expectations? When have these expectations come into conflict? How did you handle it?

Music and The Gospel: “Something Just Like This,” The Chainsmokers, ft. Coldplay, 1st Sunday of Lent

School, work, extra curricular activities—all come with expectations: that we get good grades, do a good job, and perform at the top of our game. But what do we do when the pressure builds up and challenges the expectations we have of ourselves? Something Just Like This reminds us that we don’t have to be superheroes to make ourselves and others happy.

Key Lines: She said, where’d you wanna go? / How much you wanna risk? / I’m not looking for somebody / With some superhuman gifts / Some superhero / Some fairytale bliss / Just something I can turn to / Somebody I can miss

Questions: What expectations do you have of yourself? What expectations do others have of you? When have you felt pressure to meet these expectations? How do you handle this? How do you define happiness?

Music and the Gospel: “The Garden,” Kari Jobe

In the day-to-day shuffle, we cyberbeings often forget to unplug and recognize the beauty in the world around us. Sometimes that beauty takes a little work to uncover, whether it’s cleaning up a road ditch or a deserted piece of land. This week’s Spirit reminds us that we live in communion with Earth and that we are responsible for taking care of our common home. Kari Jobe’s song “The Garden” reiterates this message by reminding us that hope exists all around us, in all we make and grow.

Key Lines: Faith is rising up like ivy / Reaching for the light / Hope is stirring deep inside me / Making all things right… / Now I see redemption / Growing in the trees / The death and resurrection / In every single seed…

Questions: What can Earth teach you? How do we affect Earth? What concerns you most about the world we live in? What initiatives can you start in your school and community to make the world a better place?

Music and the Gospel: “Rise,” Katy Perry

Turning the other cheek when someone hits you is an act of nonviolence, of stopping violence rather than taking it to another level. Whether a bully by choice or a child soldier by force, fighting leads to more fighting, violence feeds violence. Jesus challenges us to stop the payback cycles, “to love our enemies, pray for our persecutors.” Katy Perry’s song “Rise” is about rising above the fray and challenging ourselves and those around us to be better.

Key Lines: I won’t just survive / Oh, you will see me thrive /Can’t write my story / I’m beyond the archetype / I won’t just conform / No matter how you shake my core / ‘Cause my roots, they run deep, oh

Questions: What does Jesus mean when he tells us to love our enemies? When have you turned the other cheek? How can you reach out to those you disagree with or join with others to stop those who bully? What are some ways you can resolve situations peacefully?

Music and the Gospel: “I Am,” Jojo

In high school, moments when we feel on the outside looking in happen a lot.  Everyone wants to be popular; everyone wants to be included.  Often we feel socially tested, judged about everything from the people we hang out with to the very clothes we wear.  It’s also a time when we determine what and who are important to us: is being popular more important than just being ourselves?  Who are real friends?  The song “I Am.” is a song that challenges those who want to tear us down and reminds us that we are all beautiful people.

Key Lyrics: No, no, no, don’t you dare / Who do you think you are standing there? / I’ll tell you / I am, I am, I am, I am worthy of love / Am I, am I, am I, am I strong enough?

Questions: What does popularity mean in your school?  When have you given something or someone up to be popular?  Why do groups act so cruelly about who is in and who is out?  What does it mean to bully another person? What instances of bullying have you seen around your school or community?

Music and the Gospel: “Magic,” Thomas Gold, ft. Jillian Edwards

This week’s SPIRIT talks about what influences us, especially how what and who we love influence our decisions. SPIRIT also invites us to look at the consequences of our decisions, whether they be small-scale or large scale, and how we can work to minimize any negative impacts our decisions may have. The song “Magic” extends this theme by pointing out that when we allow ourselves to recognize the beauty of the world around us, then the energy of God’s creation fills us. When we allow that magic to radiate out, we are capable of changing the world for the better.

Key Lines: Like a wildfire deep inside got turned loose / You’re the only one who made me feel that / Now the sun is setting, let it take you baby / Take every drop of you and drink you in / Now I know / You put the magic in my bones

Questions: When have you made a choice without awareness of its ethical and personal implications? How can you make yourself and your community more aware of the consequences of their actions? What global issue interests you enough to learn more about it and become more involved in it? What are ways you can have a voice in our world?

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

Dr. Martin Luther King wrote that “…any law that degrades human personality is unjust.” The news constantly confronts us with oppression based on race, gender, beliefs in our society and world. It’s important to recognize oppression and to initiate peaceful changes that ensure that everyone has equal rights to resources and education. Andra Day’s song “Rise Up” is about overcoming obstacles and oppression and finding strength in standing together to make the world a better place.

Key Lines: You’re broken down and tired / Of living life on a merry go round / And you can’t find the fighter / But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out / And move mountains / We gonna walk it out / And move mountains

Questions: What are some examples of oppression you have seen in your school and community? What about in our country and our world? How can you help combat that oppression in a peaceful way? When have you felt oppressed? Were you able to bridge the gap between you and your oppressors? How?