Not all the people in our communities and nation have the same access to education, healthcare, and justice. This week’s SPIRIT spotlights Appalachia and the effects of mountaintop mining. The song “Sea Change” asks us why are we closing our eyes to the plight of people in our midst who are poor when we are all in this world together.
Key lines: So where will we go when the waters threaten to wash us away? / And all of our sons and our daughters wilt in the heat of the day? / I feel the sun draw nearer, I feel the sea start to rise / Who’s looking back in the mirror? Why are they closing —Why are they closing their eyes? / …Why are we closing our eyes?
Questions: When have you closed your eyes to a problem in your community or school? When have you opened your eyes to a problem? What did you learn or do about it? What duties does government have for the people it serves? How do you balance serving God and following the laws of our country? What issues make you struggle to answer?
This week’s Spirit tells us the story of Father Tolton, the first African-American priest. It also touches on a time in American history when slavery existed and racism flourished. Unfortunately, despite the outlawing of slavery as well as the civil rights movement of the ’60s, recent events have shown that racism is still part of our society. Black Lives Matter; every person’s life matters. Accepting all who are different from us challenges us every day. Father Tolton gives an inspiring example of persevering against ignorance for the betterment of our communities and society.
Key Lyrics: What am I trying to find? / Are you alive, oh my Amerika? / Perennial with the Earth / And freedom, love, and law, and life / …It doesn’t mean that we can’t try / Fix me in your twilight eyes / So we can make a moment last
Questions: When have you experienced prejudice? How did you feel? Who in your school or city have you seen exposed to prejudice? How did you handle it? What are some ways you can combat prejudice in your school or city?
Sometimes in order to understand a situation or a person, we have to walk a mile in their shoes. In the case of the St. Paul high schoolers, they walk 26 miles every year to raise money for a local soup kitchen. Not only does this prove to be a physical journey but it also becomes a spiritual one. It changes their perspective as they walk through different neighborhoods and meet new people. They gain a little understanding of what it means to be homeless, how exhausting it can be. Their walk is worth the pain as they raise money to feed those who have no means. When we walk with those less fortunate, we are also walking with God.
Key Lyrics: Every high and every low you’re gonna go through / You don’t have to be afraid I am with you / In the moments you’re so weak you feel like stopping / Let the hope you have light the road you’re walking
Questions: Who like the Syrian refugees are on a journey in our world? How might you learn about them and help? What difficult journey have you taken that made all the sacrifice worth it? Who can you help this Advent that you see around you? How can you help them?
This week’s Spirit focuses on Jesus’ message that we are all sacred no matter who we are or what our circumstances may be. Life is full of ups and downs, and sometimes we make decisions that don’t work out. It’s important to remember that people who suffer from natural disasters, poverty, or lack of education are no less sacred than someone who lives in a fancy house, has a good job, or great education. Catholic social teaching stresses that we are ALL important in the eyes of God and it is our duty to remedy the injustices others may be going through.
Key Lyrics: So wait for me, I swear I’ll find you / Climbing every wall that hides you / I know we were meant for something better / So wait for me, the world is changing / Underneath the ground is shaking / You and I were meant for something better
Questions: Catholic Relief Services is a great example of putting the principles of Catholic social teaching into action. What other groups follow these teachings? Who do you know in your own life that embodies these teachings? What does the idea of putting your faith in action mean to you?
School is a time of figuring out who we are and who we want to be. It can be a challenging time. It can become a place where we learn what values we truly appreciate and who is ultimately important to us. Sometimes the choices and decisions we make don’t make us popular. Spirit focuses on what is means to stay true to oneself and to the people who matter.
Key Lyrics: All hail the underdogs / All hail the new kids / All hail the outlaws / Spielber’gs and Kubrick’s / …And I say hey, hey hey hey / Living like we’re renegades
Questions: What does it mean to be popular in your school? How does this definition of “popular” influence your decisions? Who has been a good friend to you? How is God a friend to you?
Photo from the Catholic Relief Services Facebook page
Today is World Food Day 2015! This day marks the founding of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. This year’s theme is: “Social Protection and Agriculture: Breaking the Cycle of Rural Poverty”. Join in solidarity against hunger, especially among the poorest people. Visit the websites of the Food and Agricultural Organization, Heifer International, and Catholic Relief Services to see how you can contribute and help make this generation a Zero Hunger Generation.
Tune in on Friday, August 21, 2015, 8/7 CT for the first-ever U.S. commercial-free hour long broadcast of We Day! We Day is a special event celebrating youth dedicated to changing their world and will be hosted by Selena Gomez, Jennifer Hudson, Nick Jonas, and many more! Visit we.org for more information.