JERSEY CITY-Archbishop John J. Myers brought something very large into the Grand Banks Café on a Tuesday night in July: a spiritual concept of self discovery that challenges a person to "give themselves away" in order to discover the roadmap for a life journey.
Speaking to an attentive Theology on Tap crowd of more than 70 people, Archbishop Myers said the Christian process of self-discovery goes beyond the internal contemplation of one's emotions and desires. Instead, he suggested that, to "find your place in this world," those in attendance should consider the "sincere gift of self," a declaration made during the landmark Second Vatican Council.
"You know yourself by giving yourself away in loving ways," he said. "It's not enough to look in the mirror. You must look into the mirror of other faces."
True inner awareness develops when a person steps outside the comfort zone to recognize "the needs of others and the world around us." The first step of this faithful odyssey is to be "deeply convinced that God cares how we live our lives," he said. "Stay in relationship with God on these matters. When I work with my seminarians, I teach them a simple prayer: 'Lord, help me to be who you want me to be.'"
While this rigorous soul searching is demanding, the journey is rewarding, he reassured the audience. As people take stock of their gifts, spiritual vocations and paths are illuminated. "You have to work hard and commit yourself to a process of growth. Before you can 'give yourself away' you first must know what you are giving. You need a certain objectivity and honesty about yourself. I can't tell you how to live your life or what God's plan is for you. I can only offer some principles and a few examples. Then we can talk."
Archbishop John. J. Myers
Dressed in short sleeves, the archbishop-who celebrated his 66th birthday on July 26-held up a small piece of yellow scrap paper at the start of his presentation, demonstrating to the crowd that "I didn't bring a lot of notes with me tonight." He said the date of this session-July 24-marked the sixth anniversary of his appointment as Archbishop of Newark. Seizing the moment, the Theology on Tap organizers presented the archbishop with a cake at the end of his talk to celebrate the anniversary.
"Thank you for your interest in serious questions about life," he told the gathering, offering a special word of encouragement to the young adults in the room. "We need your gifts in our Church, in society and in the world."
There was a full slate of Theology on Tap sessions throughout the four counties of the archdiocese during the month of July, featuring presentations by bishops Edgar M. da Cunha, John W. Flesey, Dominic A. Marconi and others.
Plainfield-based RENEW International's Theology on Tap series promotes the spiritual growth of Catholic adults. The outreach program involves informal discussions on topics of faith in neighborhood taverns and other informal social settings. St. James Parish, Arlington Heights, IL, of the Archdiocese of Chicago, hatched the series in June 1981.