St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church - Naperville, IL

Rapid Reflection for Teens

Theme: Persistence

Scripture Passage: Luke 11:5-13

Spiritual Quote: “Without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace. The gift of grace increases as the struggles increase.” – Saint Rose of Lima

Song: “Good Fight” by Unspoken

Reflection: Giving up is far too easy. It’s often said “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” but how often do you live out this mantra? Do you respond to your challenges or let them overcome you and become stuck in self-doubt? Do you see your obstacles as chances to dive deeper into God’s grace, or do you instead say, “woe is me,” and become bitter for having to face difficulties? God created you to be much stronger and resilient than you give yourself credit for! Through the Holy Spirit, you already have the strength and tools to overcome any challenge you may be facing. Remember, though our circumstances, emotions, and thoughts change, God is ever-present and ever-persistent in loving, caring, and fighting for us. We tend to become impatient and fickle long before God does. How can you be more persistent this week?

Action: Take a few minutes for prayer or reflection on ways you can increase your persistence in prayer, spiritual devotion, or behavior. If there are heavy challenges weighing on you this week, offer them up to Jesus in prayer. Don’t be afraid to ask God directly for what you need, even if it seems too big or too trivial. Close by reading the Scripture passage and listening to the song.  

 

Theme: Trust

Scripture Passage: Psalm 9:10

Spiritual Quote: “He who trusts in himself is lost. He who trusts in God can do all things.” – St. Alphonsus Liguori

Song: “Trust In You” by Lauren Daigle

Reflection: In politics, friendships, romance, creative endeavors, or in sharing who you are, it can be quite tricky to know who is worthy of being trusted. Some too often and too quickly use people for their own benefit or shy away when things get inconvenient for them. Before you dismiss this notion as not applying to you, have you ever been friends with or done something for someone only because you would gain something in return? Can you be counted on to do the things you say you’ll do? Can you be trusted with people’s secrets? The sad truth is that all of us will inevitably fail to be perfectly trustworthy. Thus, if we only put our trust in ourselves, in others or in institutions, we are bound to be let down. Thank God life doesn’t only depend on us! We have a God who is not only supremely trustworthy, but also supremely good!

Action: Reflect or journal on a situation in your life where you could trust God more fully. Think and pray about ways you can better reflect the trustworthy nature of God. Close your reflection by reading the Scripture passage and listening to the song.

 

Theme: Courage

Scripture Passage: Joshua 1:9

Spiritual Quote: “It is not enough to be good. It is not enough to not do evil. There are many who say, ‘But I don’t kill, I don’t steal, I don’t do anything bad to anyone.’ That’s not enough. You are still lacking a great deal. It is not enough to be good.” – Saint Oscar Romero

Song: “Do Something” by Matthew West

Reflection: According to our Catholic faith, fortitude (or courage), “is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good. It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in the moral life,” (CCC 1808). Our culture is plagued with an absence of courage. As one example, many in our society, our government, and even within our church lack courage in taking accountability or in admitting fault. As followers of Christ, we are called not simply to avoid evil, but instead to move courageously in the pursuit of righteousness and holiness. This means we cannot stand still. We cannot sit back in comfort. We are called to follow Christ courageously, even if it comes with a cost.

Action: Reflect or journal about one new way you will demonstrate courage. Perhaps it’s letting someone in on a struggle or being more vocal about standing up for injustices you see at your school or amongst your friends. Perhaps it’s choosing to live differently, risking pride, money, or status. Pray to Jesus to show you what that one thing is for you. Note your progress this week.

 

Theme: Control

Scripture Passage: Proverbs 3:5-8

Spiritual Quote: “Whether we receive what we ask for, or do not…let us continue steadfast in prayer. For to fail in obtaining the desires of our heart, when God so wills it, is not worse than to receive it; for we know not as He does, what is profitable to us.” Saint John Chrysostom

Song: “Control (Somehow You Want Me)” by Tenth Avenue North

Reflection: Even though statistics suggest riding in a plane is much safer than driving a car, many more people fear flying than driving. The reason? Control. More often than not, we like to be in control (or at least feel that way). But imagine what it would be like to give up the need for control. Imagine surrendering, not to just anyone, but the author of the universe who is not only supremely powerful, but also supremely loving and concerned with your well being! Giving up control to such a power suddenly changes from stressful to peaceful, and from loss to gain.

Action: In a journal or on a piece of paper, draw an image of the foot of the cross where Jesus was crucified. This isn’t an art contest, just do your best. Something simple is perfectly fine. Then write down on that same page all of the stresses, problems, or situations in your life that are too big for you to handle on your own. Make as complete a list as you can, including even little things. Close by offering these things up to Jesus in prayer and then listen to the song.

 

Theme: Identity

Scripture Passage: Mark 10:13-16

Spiritual Quote: “Remember that you are never alone, Christ is with you on your journey every day of your lives! He has called you and chosen you to live in the freedom of the children of God.” – Saint Pope John Paul II

Song: “Who You Say I Am” by Hillsong Worship

Reflection: We are a culture, a country, a church, and a people in identity crisis. The struggle is real! Turn on the news and you can see and feel that there is a struggle going on right now; a struggle for the soul of our country and our church. It’s not just at these grand levels though. It’s all around us every day. Look at your friendships. Look at your family. Look anywhere there is brokenness and hurt in your life. Look at any of the many ways we choose to escape from life instead of engage with it. We’re all struggling with the question, “Who am I and who am I meant to be?” This is the most important question we’ll ever ask. What’s your answer today?

Action: Reflect or journal about all the things that make you, you. Include both positive and negative attributes. Which list is longer? Close the reflection by reading the scripture passage and listening to the song. Take hope in the fact your truest identity is a beloved child of God.

 

Theme: Greatness

Scripture Passage: Mark 9: 35-37

Spiritual Quote: “The most…stirring adventure that can happen to you is the personal meeting with Jesus,
who is the only one who gives real meaning to our lives.” – Saint Pope John Paul II

Song: “The Saint That Is Just Me” by Danielle Rose

Reflection: One of the commonalities between all people is the desire to be great.  From childhood we want to play the hero; we want to be someone important; we want to be someone who makes a difference.  Even those who don’t feel like being great right now, it’s likely some kind of burden of anxiety or shame that’s holding you back, but the desire to be great is there.  We are all called to greatness.  But what does greatness look like?  Greatness in Christianity can be defined as striving to become as close as possible to exactly the person God created YOU to be.  So while we are all called to greatness, we need to be careful not to chase shadows of what other people are doing or have done.  We need to ground ourselves in our relationship with Jesus, and slowly conform ourselves to the unique ways he is calling us to greatness in our lives.

Action: Journal or reflect about your desires for greatness.  Are you putting those desires in things that are noble, or things that focus on self-gratification?  Pray for God’s wisdom to show you who you are meant to be and for the strength to become that person in spite of difficulties.

 

Theme: Shame

Scripture Passage: Isaiah 50:7

Spiritual Quote: “After the sin comes the shame; courage follows repentance…Satan upsets the order; he gives the courage to sin and the shame to repentance.” – St. John Chrysostom

Song: “Jesus Loves Me” by Chris Tomlin

Reflection: Shame is something that we often associate with its close relative guilt.  One key distinction that can be made is that guilt says, “I did something bad,” whereas shame says, “I am bad.”  One of the beauties of Christianity is the message that we are no longer meant to be held in the bondage of our sin and shame.  Yes, we’re all human and will inevitably sin.  Yes, we definitely strive to live better, and more holy lives as we grow in our faithfulness to Jesus.  But, many people fall into traps of sin and bad habits and then assume they are no longer worthy to live as Christians or to be close to God.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  Stop any cycle of self-loathing and shame that puts a barrier between and experiencing the grace of God.

Action: Reflect or journal about the ways shame and the notion of, “I am bad,” affects your life.  Pray through the Holy Spirit that God will remind you of your dignity as His child and give you the courage to repent and move forward.  Close your reflection by listening to the song.

 

Theme: Authenticity

Scripture Passage: James 1:21-22; 26-27

Spiritual Quote: “It is useless for a man to flaunt his knowledge of the law if he undermines its teaching by his actions.”
Saint Anthony of Padua

Song: “Wholehearted” by for KING & COUNTRY

Reflection: If we’re not careful, our lives can become one big identity crisis. We believe in autonomy and cultural expressions such as, “you do you.” However, if we are not secure in who we are, this just leads to confusion. We try on different masks until we find ones that fit for each day or each circumstance. The problem of living this way is that it’s easy to become disconnected and dissatisfied. We act like a puzzle piece trying to fit in every spot, instead of being who we were uniquely created by God to be.

Action: Journal or reflect on how often your words match your actions. How well do your choices sync up with your beliefs? Where in your life do you spend time living in a way that is inconsistent with your values? If there are inconsistencies, work on them by talking with a friend, priest, or counselor and making an action plan to address them.

 

Theme: Distractions

Scripture Passage: Joshua 24: 14-18

Spiritual Quote: “If you have many distractions at prayer, that prayer of yours may well be upsetting the devil a great deal.” – Saint Alphonsus Liguori

Song: “The Cure” by Unspoken

Reflection: One of the biggest challenges to faith is fighting off the notion of “good enough.” Good enough, by its nature, implies complacency. It says, “I could be doing more or better, but I’m fine with where I am.” Fight the temptation to be complacent this week! Don’t just try to make it into the ballpark of holiness. Get on the field and into the game. God didn’t think “good enough” when He created you. “God saw all that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31). God has great plans for your life! Eliminate the things that distract you and keep you complacent in your faith.

Action: Journal or reflect about one of the main distractions that keeps you from living your faith. It might be a habit, show, or person. Focus, just this week, on eliminating that distraction as much as possible. See what happens and reassess next week. Close today, by listening to the song, remembering that God alone can fill our every longing.

 

Theme: Nourishment

Scripture Passage: John 6:51-58

Spiritual Quote: “For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church…namely Christ himself…
As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, the Eucharist strengthens our charity…and enables us to break our disordered attachments …and root ourselves in him.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1324; 1394)

Song: “Remembrance (Communion Song)” by Matt Maher

Reflection: Fast food restaurants flourish because our increasingly busy society sees convenience as a supreme value. It’s not just limited to food. We fill up on quick fixes for anxiety, troubles, or boredom through movies, shows, games, & social media. Options for entertainment have never before been so wide-spread or profitable. Yet, at the end of the day, where does all that consumption of entertainment leave us? Often,
it only leaves us hungry for more. Instead of filling up on what is quick and easy, try investing in something that truly satisfies and nourishes your body, mind, and soul.

Action: Commit to attending Mass every week for next two months. Invite a friend to keep you accountable. Journal your takeaways each week and note any changes to your attitudes or life in general. If you already attend Mass weekly, try adding a daily Mass during the week, or reading and reflecting on the Sunday Scriptures ahead of time.

 

Theme: Faithfulness

Scripture Passage: Luke 1:38

Spiritual Quote: “He loves. He hopes. He waits…Our Lord prefers to wait…for the sinner for years rather than keep him waiting for one instant.”
St. Peter Julian Eymard

Song: “Faithfulness” by Matt Maher (featuring Steffany Gretzinger)

Reflection: When was the last time you had to wait longer than you liked? For a friend to respond to you on social media? For your food at a restaurant? How do you react in these situations? When things don’t go our way, we can become impatient, frustrated or irritable. Similarly, have you ever committed to something, then bailed when something better came along? We tend to want instant gratification in many areas of life, and if we don’t get it, we move on or become bitter. Consider how these attitudes could be affecting your faith. Instead of being frustrated or moving on when you feel God’s not active in your life, examine your own heart and actions. Even amidst difficulties, how can you be more faithful to God whose love for you never changes?

Action: This Wednesday is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Consider saying a decade of the rosary and ask God for the strength and piety of Mary to be able to faithfully say, “Yes,” to whatever His plans are for you. Listen to the song, remembering that God is always faithful in loving each of us even when we falter.

 

Theme: Transformation

Scripture Verse: Romans 12:1-2

Spiritual Quote: “How often we say: ‘I must change, I can’t go on like this… And Jesus by our side, with His hand outstretched, says to us, ‘Come to me. I will do the work:
I will change your heart, I will change your life, I will make you happy’.” – Pope Francis

Song: “Water Into Wine” by Chris August

Reflection: Examples of transformation are everywhere: changing seasons, metamorphosis of caterpillars into butterflies, extreme makeovers, or commercials that promise radical changes by practicing this diet or that exercise. We tend to resist change, though, because it comes with a price. It hurts. It demands letting something else die or fade away. This process is not easy, yet, is one of the core practices of the spiritual journey. It gives way to new life, often more abundant that what we ever thought possible. What habits or situations in your life need to be transformed today?

Action: Take 5 minutes to journal about areas of your life that seem chaotic, painful, or in transition. Then spend a few minutes in prayer, offering those things to Jesus. Ask him for an open heart and mind and to allow transformation. Close with the song.

 

 

Theme: Rest

Scripture Verse: Mark 6:30-32

Spiritual Quote: “Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you.” – St. Augustine of Hippo

Song: “Rest” by Matt Maher

Reflection: In a society that so often preaches productivity as the highest value, it’s no wonder many have a hard time sitting still. Anxiety, impatience, and difficulties with sustaining attention are prevalent. It’s easy to become conditioned to overextend and overachieve. Many young people feel they can never let their guard down between balancing good grades, extracurricular activities, friendships, jobs, staying on top of social media trends and streaks, and the list goes on. Though, even Jesus Christ and his followers took time away to rest, refresh, and recharge. Can we honestly say we have more on our plate than Jesus? Then why don’t we allow ourselves time to rest?

Action: Go somewhere quiet and set a timer for 5-10 minutes. Then simply sit in silence. Think about and do as little as possible. Just breathe and be present. Resist the temptation to worry about what you’re getting done. Simply, rest. Then journal or reflect about what you noticed. Did you hear God’s voice? What message did you hear?

Theme: Mercy
Scripture Verse: Luke 6:36-38

Spiritual Quote: “Do not forget this: the Lord never tires of forgiving! It is we who tire of asking forgiveness.” – Pope Francis

Song: “Clean” by Natalie Grant

Reflection: If you know sports, you’ve probably heard of the “mercy rule”. It goes in effect when one team is so far ahead, there is no hope of the other team winning, so they stop playing. Mercy in the context of our faith is a little different. Imagine the same scenario, except instead of the game ending with a clear winner and a clear loser; it starts over completely as if nothing happened. God is inviting you into that kind of mercy right now. No matter how far down or behind you feel, God’s mercy and forgiveness are ever within reach, and ever capable of renewing you from the inside, out. Are you willing to accept God’s mercy in your life today?

Action: Take 5-10 minutes in silent prayer or journal about any ways you need to seek God’s mercy or forgiveness. Close your reflection by reading the passage from Luke 6:36-38 and then listen to the song. Consider taking the next step in bringing yourself before God’s mercy by going to confession at your church.

 

Theme: Overcoming Weaknesses

Scripture Verse: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Spiritual Quote: “We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s love for us.” Saint Pope John Paul II

Song:  Where The Light Shines Through, by Switchfoot

Reflection:  Why me? Be honest, how many times in the last week, have you said these words, or expressed the same idea when encountering a challenge or struggle? We get this idea that if we’re living the right way, or if God really loves us, life should be easy and without struggle or stress. Clearly, this is not the case. One of the beauties of Catholicism is that suffering is not without purpose. It does not mean that God always wills it, but it does mean that God’s grace can redeem it.

Action: Take 5-10 minutes in silent prayer or journal your three biggest perceived weaknesses. Write or think about how God can use these things to draw you into deeper relationship with God or others around you. Close your reflection by reading the Scripture passage from 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 and listen to the song.

 

Theme: Feeling Anxious

Scripture Verse: 1 Peter 5:6-7

Spiritual Quote: “Who except God can give you peace?  Has the world ever been able to satisfy the heart?”- Saint Gerard Majella

Song: “Cast My Cares” by Finding Favour

Reflection: Anxiety is a tricky topic.  It seems more people are suffering from it today, than ever.  We hear messages that to be anxious is to lack faith.  However, this is not always the case.  Some suffer from anxiety beyond what they can control.  If that is you, do not lose hope!  Peace can be found through prayer and building your relationship with God, but also by seeking the help you need from friends, parents, and other trusted family members, caring adults, ministers, and counselors.

Action: Spend 5-10 minutes in quiet prayer today.  Spend the first few minutes resting in the fact that God knows you better than anyone and already loves you more than anything you can comprehend.  Then ask God to help you think of two people with whom you could share more openly about your struggles and give you the courage to let them in.

 

Theme: Finding Direction

Scripture Verse: Psalm 32:8

Spiritual Quote: “Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be – and becoming that person.”  — St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Reflection: The end of a school year and the beginning of summer brings a time of transition.  Whatever you are facing, a new school, new job, new challenge, or something else… God wants you to succeed! Spend time in prayer to discern how your hopes and dreams connect with God’s desires for your life.  That is how you find true joy.

Action: Take 5 minutes today to read the Scripture verse and pray the quote by
St. Thérèse of Lisieux and ask God to give you guidance in your life.