Tag Archives: Personal Growth

New Year’s Eve: A time to reflect on the past year. Catholic Inspiration

As we bring the year 2019 to a close, perhaps it makes sense to take a brief walk back through the last twelve months and reflect on how our lives have changed. Where did we experience moments of growth? Where did we experience God’s grace? May we look back and count our blessings as we prepare for a New Year.

Happy New Year!


Catholic Inspiration Archives

Monday Conversation – A plan for life. Catholic Inspiration

This presentation outlines a plan of action for the Christian life.  Fr. Andrew explores different aspects of our lives, provides a simple process for personal evaluation and offers practical measurements to review our effort.  Given at the Diocese of Superior Men’s Retreat on February 17, 2018.


Archive of Fr. Andrew’s Podcasts

For a copy of the worksheet that accompanied this presentation click on:   A Plan for Life

Daily Mass: Woe is me! Catholic Inspiration

Mass Readings – Friday of the 26th Week of the Year

It will not go well for the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum; Jesus preached in their midst and they have not responded.  It’s a good reminder for us who have been raised with the Gospel…are we merely “cultural” Christians, or has the Good News touched our hearts and changed our lives?


Archive of Fr. Andrew’s Podcasts

Personal Healing & Renewal – Catholic Inspiration

Three Great Things

Fr. Andrew’s Podcast Presentation

This 45 minute retreat was given to the Northern Waters Parish Nurse Group on October 9, 2015.  The presentation explores a four step process of personal healing and renewal:

  • Acknowledgement
  • Diagnosis
  • Prescription
  • Follow through

By examining four quadrants of human life (physical, intellectual, relational, spiritual) this presentation guides the listener toward personal growth in practical ways .

Feast of the Ascension


Study:  Name some of the most powerful life transitions (school, work, relationships, death).  What life lessons did you learn from these experiences?

Pray:  Ask the Lord to send the Holy Spirit into your heart for the wisdom and strength to face new transitions.

Serve:  Who in your life is facing a difficult time of transition right now?  How can you be a source of support?

Feast of the Ascension Readings

Fr. Andrew’s Homily

Her name was Miss Toft.  She was the magical kindergarten teacher who introduced me to the wonders of school.  From the very first day of class she seamlessly wove learning and fun together.  She was kind, funny, and dedicated to the kids in her class.

As the school year came to an end all of us were excited about summer, but several (myself included) did not want to leave.  We had gotten familiar with the routine, we knew what to do, we enjoyed our class, and we loved our teacher – besides the older kids were BIGGER and there was the great unknown of elementary school looming ahead.

“I don’t want to leave kindergarten!” I said.

She said, “But Andrew, if you don’t leave kindergarten, you will never discover all the great things in school.  Every grade has new things to learn and I know that you will like it.”

Then I got to the real point. “But I don’t want to leave you!” I cried.

She gave me a hug and said with a teary smile, “Even if I’m not your teacher I will be just down the hall.  You can say hi to me any time you want, and I will always be here for you.”

Looking back that moment was the first of many experiences of a simple truth: sometimes we have to say farewell in order to grow.

Throughout life there are numerous moments when we face a transition – we say farewell to a place, a person, or an experience in order to begin a new chapter in life.  The very process of letting go provides space in our hearts to experience new opportunities and thus grow and stretch in order that we can become more.

The disciples had been with Jesus for three years.  They had journeyed with him throughout his ministry.  They had witnessed the miracles, the healings and the teachings.  They were at the Last Supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, and from a distance they saw the agony of the Cross.  Then for a few glorious weeks, they encountered the Lord in all his resurrection glory – and just when things seemed to be incredibly wonderful he leaves them in the Ascension.

Why?  So they could grow in a new way.

It was time for them to take his teaching and example to the world.  Filled with the Holy Spirit (which we celebrate next week at Pentecost) those simple men will transform cultures and civilizations with the Good News of Jesus.  They will do more then they ever dreamed possible – because Jesus said farewell to them so that they could grow.  The Feast of the Ascension articulates the reality that sometimes the only way we can become more is when others step out of our lives and allow us (or obligate us!) to continue on our own.  The transition is not easy, but it does create new opportunities.

Jesus walks with us through our transitions as well.  Even when letting go and saying farewell seem impossible to do, the Lord guides us and teaches us that through this process we discover new insights and strengths to grow as his disciples.

What transition am I experiencing right now?  Do I view it as a painful obstacle or as an opportunity to discover new insights?  Perhaps the best thing we can do in a transition is to look for the lesson the Lord might be trying to teach, and then figure out how we can put it into practice.

6th Sunday of Easter – Transformed by Love

Love tasks

Study:  Recall the people in life have loved us unconditionally.  How did their love help you change and grow?

Pray:  Ask the Lord for the grace to recognize the people in our midst we are called to love.

Serve:  Love takes many forms.  What can I do today for another person out of love?

6th Sunday of Easter Readings

Fr. Andrew’s Homily Podcast

For the last few months the eyes of the world have directed to the words and actions of Pope Francis.  It has been a time of extensive media coverage on the Church and its message of hope to a new generation.

During this time many people have experienced the rich treasure of Roman Catholicism.  The history, symbolism, and global significance have helped provide a deeper understanding of the internal structure of the Church.

Many people have responded to the Pope’s teaching and example.  It is an exciting time to participate in the Church, and I personally am renewed and energized in my desire to grow in my  vocation to the priesthood – even in the midst of transition and change.

Change is a part of life.  Through our experiences and encounters we develop and discover new perspectives and resources within our lives.  Change happens when we open our hearts to those around us and put into action our new insights.

In the Gospel Jesus states that to love him means to keep his commandments.  There are two:
1.  Love God
2.  Love one another.

It is important to note that these commands are not just about being busy.  To love means to be in relationship with others; love invites us to grow in our awareness and understanding for one another.  This knowledge leads to greater respect and value for all life.

In the Gospel love is a verb.  It must be acted upon, practiced, and carried out in all parts of life.  To love means to work at a relationship – and thus be open to spend the time and effort necessary.

Yet when we open our hearts to love we are changed.  As we experience love, as we work at it, we discover that our hearts get stretched.  We become challenged to grow, to make room so that we can love more deeply, more completely.

Jesus promises that we will have help.  As we open our lives to the power of love, the Spirit will come to help us and guide us.  Transformed by love, we trust that God will continue to direct us, until the cycle of love and change brings us one day to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Preparations for Lent


Study:  Looking back in my life, are there any activities, people, or situations that have helped me to grow?

Pray:  Ask the Lord for the wisdom to recognize the Fruits of the Spirit and the courage to embrace them.

Serve:  Look for an opportunity this Lent to offer a part of your life to helping another – especially someone who has no way to pay you back.

The season of Lent offers a powerful opportunity for conversion, spiritual growth, and developing our relationships with the Lord and one another.  However, I also know that this season has a way of sneaking up on us.  Life moves fast, and we can get caught up in any number of tasks – missing the necessary preparation and perspective to get the most out of these 40 Days.

As a guide, I suggest starting with the “Fruits of the Spirit” that St. Paul writes about in his letter to the Galatians (5:22-23).  They are:

  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self-Control

First, do we see these in our lives?  Are there people, situations, interactions, locations (home, work, school, community) where we see consistent evidence of their presence?  If so, then how can we help them flourish and grow?  How can we create more opportunities to allow the Spirit to work in our lives?

Second, are these absent in our lives?  Or worse, are their opposites present?  Is hatred, despair, turmoil, and the like alive in our hearts?  If so, how can we make the necessary changes to allow the Spirit into our lives?

Now here’s how this gets practical.  It is often customary during Lent to “do” something or “give up” something for these 40 days.  How about this…

  1. “Do” something that fosters the Fruits of the Spirit in my life.
  2. “Give up” something that is in conflict with the Fruits of the Spirit.

Where do we look?  Try this for starters…

  1. WHAT we do – the Activity
  2. WHO we do it with – the People
  3. WHERE we do it – the Location

“Doing” can include any number of things:

  • Helping a neighbor, family member or friend – in a spirit of kindness and gentleness
  • Drawing near to people who are spiritually good – who make us more loving and peaceful
  • Spending time on activities that help us use God’s talents in a good and holy way
  • Concentrating our efforts on opportunities where we know that God is present
  • Being in locations and situations that foster a strong and healthy life

“Giving up” can look like this:

  • Is there anything destructive, harmful, unholy, or evil that needs to be removed?
  • Are there people who are leading us to harm or destruction?
  • Are there locations, situations, or circumstances that are unholy for us?

Using the “Fruits of the Spirit” as a measurement, we can quickly reveal the pattern of our lives.  If it is spiritually fruitful, then we can strengthen this.  If it is spiritually destructive, then perhaps this season of Lent gives us an opportunity to give it up and start directing our lives in better ways.

Furthermore, Lent has classic opportunities for Study, Prayer, and Service:

Study: Scripture, the Catechism, a Devotional, Spiritual Reading

Prayer: Mass, Confession, Rosary, Scripture, Devotions, Stations of the Cross

Service: at home, the neighborhood, the community, the Church

God keeps inviting, keeps forgiving, and keeps extending grace and mercy to all who seek it.  Now is the time to get ready for a powerful Lent – where we turn to Jesus and allow His grace to transform our hearts.  Give serious thought to what you can do to make this season special, and open your to heart to Jesus Christ.

What will you do?  What will you give up?  Make it a great Lent!

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