In 2006, a small, one-room schoolhouse was the center of a major tragedy. A lone gunman entered the school and killed five students, injured five more, and forever changed the lives of many others. Tragedies such as this happen too often. What is sometimes surprising are the number of voices that call out for compassion, empathy, and even forgiveness towards those who have hurt us, our family, and our community. Carrie Underwood’s song “Love Wins” is not just about reaching out to our friends, family, neighbors, but also those who are different from us and even those who have hurt us. We don’t know what another person is going through, but only by approaching each other in the spirit of love and forgiveness can we begin to heal our hearts and community.
Key Lyrics: I, I believe you and me are sisters and brothers / And I, I believe we’re made to be here for each other / And we’ll never fall if we walk hand in hand / Put a world that seems broken together again / Yeah I, I believe in the end love wins
Questions: What have you found difficult to forgive? Were you able to let go of the hurt or grudge? How? Are some actions unforgivable? What examples of forgiveness do you see around you? How have you been forgiven?
In Sunday’s gospel Jesus identifies the two greatest commandments–to love God with all our hearts and minds and our neighbor as ourselves. All of us, regardless of circumstances, can live these basic commandments rather than stereotype, judge, and disrespect others. We have the capabilities to brighten someone’s day, help people, spread joy, and learn from those different from us. The song “Love Song” is a reminder to love every day.
Lyrics: You are good to me / Still even better than I think / You are strong for me / For every time that I can’t be / I love You / It’s simple to say / But I love You / More every day / You see my heart and You know that it’s true / I love You / I love You, yes, I do / Yes, I do
Questions: How do labels affect how you see people around you? How does the fear of being labelled prevent you from being your true self? How can you help change the negative implications that labels can impose on others?
Growing up involves us in branching out and developing relationships with significant others beyond the family. Sometimes these relationships are fun and carefree, sometimes complicated and difficult. Sometimes they last, sometimes they don’t. The high school years are the ideal time to make relationships and learn to break them with care. This week’s SPIRIT focuses on relationships, and how they affect us and can change us.
Key lines: Don’t cut me down, throw me out, leave me here to waste / I once was a man with dignity and grace / Now I’m slipping through the cracks of your cold embrace / So please, please / Could you find a way to let me down slowly? / A little sympathy, I hope you can show me / If you wanna go then I’ll be so lonely / If you’re leaving baby let me down slowly
Questions: What does being “in a relationship” mean to you? How many friends do you like to have? What characterizes a healthy relationship? What are symptoms of a unhealthy relationship? Who in your life reflects the type of relationship you want? Why?
Friends, family, people we date all influence us as we grow and mature. These relationships can be both positive and negative. They can challenge who we think we are and who we want to be. They can push us into mistakes and teach us how to be better people. More importantly, relationships can teach us about mutual respect and openness. The song “Meant To Be” is about being open to new experiences and relationships.
Key lines: Who knows where this road is supposed to lead / We got nothing but time / As long as you’re right here next to me, everything’s gonna be alright / If it’s meant to be, it’ll be, it’ll be ‘Baby, just let it be / If it’s meant to be, it’ll be, it’ll be
Questions: What does “meant to be” mean? Does it mean relationships just happen, work out somehow, or in what ways do friends have to work at their relationships? How many close friendships can a person have? What qualities do close relationships have? How are they different from other relationships? What do you value most in relationships? Who in your life exemplifies a healthy relationship?
God so loves the world that God’s Son becomes one of us. This is Sunday’s gospel message. Jesus’ mission reveals God’s love as he reaches out to all the people he encounters. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve done, or what you’re going through. The song “You Are Loved” reminds us all that God loves and cares for us, imperfections and all.
Key Lyrics: You are loved / If your heart’s in a thousand pieces / If you’re lost and you’re far from reason / Just look up; know you are loved / Just look up; and know you are loved / When it feels like something’s missing / If it hurts but you can’t find healing / Just look up, know you are loved / Just look up, know you are loved
Questions: What relationship does God have with the world? How is this reflected in Jesus’ relationship with his followers? Who shows you love when you feel down? How do you show love to others? What makes relationships difficult?
Some relationships bring out the best in us; they teach us compassion and forgiveness. Other relationships challenge our values and perceptions of who we are and what we want. Gavin James’ song “Hearts on Fire” is about relationships and the challenges that occur when we’re pulled in different directions.
Key lines: Strangers in my head / Keep making me forget / Where I came from…/ There’s madness in eyes / We’re too blind to realize / Just what we’ve done… / I feel it taking a hold / I feel a rush in my bones / For you / I think we’re caught in a fight / Can we make it alright / With all these shadows on our backs / How can we take it back and / How can we love with our hearts on fire
Questions: What values do you look for in relationships? When has a relationship challenged you? How did you resolve the challenges? What keeps you centered when facing the demands of others? What does loving someone mean?
“Eucharist is the central action of the Christian community…It’s where we find the future we want to commit ourselves to build.” Spirit explores how every Eucharist calls us to put our faith into action and to love with our lives as Jesus did, reaching out to all, familiar friends and new and different people. Hollyn’s song “Love With Your Life” boldly challenges us to live life fully and become symbols of hope and change, whether by helping someone obtain a simple meal, learning about a social issue, or taking an active role in social justice issues.
Key Lines: You gotta love with your life / Like a fire burning strong / Til’ the night has come and gone / There’s a hope that lives in you / You gotta love with your life / Like a warrior / Fight, lay it on the line / If you wanna see a change / You gotta love with your life
Questions: When have you been unable to ignore the plight of someone in your school or community? What did you do to help in that moment? What situations or people do you feel your community ignores? How can you make people more aware of this issue? What does Eucharist teach you about loving with your life?