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The end of the semester: A reflection on growth and potency

Personal development

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Daniel Esparza - published on 05/25/24

The end of the semester is a good time to check in on how we are doing with actualizing our potential. Did we meet the goals we set at the beginning?

As another semester (finally) wraps up, we are all feeling a mix of emotions: relief, maybe a touch of melancholy, and hopefully a sense of accomplishment. In any case, this time of closure and transition can be tough. It marks not just the end of a school year, but also the constant, often exhausting struggle towards growth that we all experience throughout life.

St. Thomas Aquinas, the patron saint of students and universities, offers a great way to look at this process. His originally Aristotelian concepts of potency and act speak to the potential we all have, constantly striving to be realized. The classic example is that of a seed. It has the potential to become a tree – but it needs the right conditions to make that happen. Similarly, we all have our own unique potential for knowledge, virtue, and service.

Looking back at the past semester

The end of the semester is a good time to check in on how we are doing with actualizing our potential. Did we meet the goals we set at the beginning?  Did we push ourselves to learn and grow? These questions are similar to the way we approach our spiritual lives, as we try to bridge the gap between where we are now and the person we want to be.

God’s grace provides the help we need for our potential to flourish. Our studies, like any other endeavor, become avenues for spiritual growth when we approach them with the right intention. Aquinas makes it clear that it is important to approach knowledge faithfully and reasonably – that is, seeking “worldly” knowledge and a deeper understanding of God’s creation.

Growth is gradual

But just as a seed can’t become a tree overnight, we can’t expect to change overnight either. Growth is a gradual, steady, and often tiresome process, with moments of both accomplishment and setback along the way. The end of the semester is a good time to celebrate the progress we’ve made, no matter how big or small. It’s also a chance to think about what helped us grow and where we might need to focus our efforts in the future.

As we move on to the next stage, let’s take the spirit of St. Thomas Aquinas with us. Take advantage of the potential God has given you and look for ways to gain the knowledge and experience you need to make it happen. Remember, learning and self-development is a lifelong journey, and it’s fueled by God’s grace and our commitment to becoming the best version of ourselves.

Catholic LifestylePersonal GrowthThomas Aquinas
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