Personal Growth

Unit Highlights

Unit Introduction

Human beings are made in God’s image and likeness. This means that we are like God in that we possess an intellect, free will, and the capacity for love. God calls us to a vocation of love: love of God and love of neighbor. In this vocation of love, we build the Kingdom of God. We have a particular responsibility to create a just and peaceful world rooted in God’s love. And it is in the Church that Christ established the we are nurtured and live in relationship with God and with the whole Body of Christ.

In God’s Image and Likeness

God is a Trinity of Persons in an eternal exchange of love. The Father loves the Son, the Son receives and reciprocates that love, and the Holy Spirit is the love between the Father and the Son personified. Human beings are made in the image and likeness of God. This means that we unique in all of creation. No other creature possesses the gift of being made in God’s image. Therefore, we have a unique dignity because we are made like God. This also means we are capable of certain things that God is capable of. Like God, we possess an intellect, free will, and the capacity for love. Ultimately, we are made for communion with God and each other.

God created us in His image. Being made in the image of God, or the imago Dei, means that we are literally made in the image of Love Himself. God is love, so we are made by love, in love, for love, and to love. We are given an invitation to enter into the community of the Trinity and the Love of God, and to form a loving communion with each other.

A Vocation of Love

It can be confusing in today’s world to know the true meaning of love. The type of love that God demonstrates for us and gives to us is charity. Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for His own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God. Simply put, charity inspires a life of self- giving. Ultimately, the best demonstration of love that we have is Christ on the Cross. In Romans 5:8, St. Paul explains, “But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” This is the type of love that we are called to imitate.

There are many ways that we use the term love in our society, although not all love is true charity. In every relationship with other people, whether it be friendship, family relationships, romantic relationships, or marriage, we are called to a vocation of loving as God loves—self giving love, or charity.

This means that we are called to build each other up, not just to be stronger or smarter, but to reach our ultimate vocation of Heaven.

Friendships can help us become saints. We can have holy, uplifting conversations and pray with our friends. We can encourage one another and help each other when we are struggling with sin. Family can also be a huge factor in helping us draw closer to Christ. And although we don’t necessarily “choose” our family, we can take every opportunity to grow in holiness through our families.

Social Responsibility

We have a responsibility to create a just and peaceful society rooted in the love of Christ.

Jesus taught that we should love our enemies. This may seem contrary to our usual way of thinking, but we shouldn’t misunderstand Christ’s meekness for weakness. Someone who is weak is afraid. Christ was not afraid. He was meek. This means that He returned gentleness for violence and hatred and refused to stoop to the level of those persecuting Him. He calls us to build peace in our society, which means much more than the absence of war. Peace is the work of justice and the effect of charity. Christ teaches us that the Father’s love is greater than simply a law that measures out what is our due.

Jesus taught that when we show mercy to the least in the Kingdom, we are doing so to Him. Jesus gave us the Corporal Works of Mercy to meet the physical needs of others. These are: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead. And He gave us the Spiritual Works of Mercy to meet the spiritual needs of others. These are: instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, correct sinners, bear wrongs patiently, forgive offenses willingly, comfort the afflicted, and pray for the living and the dead. The Father’s love is merciful, meaning that His love is a pure gift. He returns mercy for sin and love for hate.

Relationship with God and His Church

Ultimately, God loves us and has called us into relationship with Him. Sometimes it is difficult to see how God is loving us, but He is always there for us, always loving us. In fact, He sustains us in His love. If God stopped loving us for even a second, we would cease to exist. But instead, God has loved us into existence and sustains our life every second.

God loved us so much that He sent His only Son into the world to make His love known to us. He sacrificed Himself on the Cross so that we might have life. And He established the Church (the Body of Christ) so that we may be saved as a people. He appointed leaders, gave them authority, and gave us the command to tell everyone of the Good News of salvation. In the Church, then, we come to worship the Lord and be in relationship with Him and with the rest of the Body of Christ.



Connection to the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Scripture Studied in This Unit

Activity 1: Make a Circle Map on your personal growth

Brainstorm, list, and/or draw:

Activity 2: Scripture to Memory

Pope St. John Paul II strongly encouraged that the faithful memorize important passages of Scripture. In the Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi Tradendae, he wrote: “The blossoms ... of faith and piety do not grow in the desert places of memoryless catechesis.” When you have memorized important Scripture passages, the Word of God resides in your minds and hearts and is at the ready when you need it.

To respond to Pope St. John Paull II’s wish, you should write out and commit to memory some or all of the following Bible verses, which complement all the lessons in this unit. Take a few minutes each day to study them and practice recitation and writing. Before completing this unit, you will write out two or more of these verses, from memory. 

Explore different means of memorization, such as hanging important Scripture verses on your refrigerator at home, or on your bathroom mirror, reciting and discussing Scripture with your parents, using passages in conversation, and other creative means of use and memorization.