When you think of the term ‘finding yourself’ do you see it as just an excuse to travel, to end a relationship, or to indulge in some self-centered behavior? Well, finding yourself isn’t always an “eat, pray, love” experience, and reflecting on your identity as a person is a worthwhile and healthy endeavor. But taking a year off to find yourself probably won’t lead you to the answers you’re seeking.
Recently on Go Ask Your Father™, Msgr. Stuart Swetland reflected on the concept of finding yourself, and gave advice for anyone looking for the answers to life’s big questions.
“This concept of finding oneself, I think it speaks right to the spiritual arcs that our modern generation has,” he said. “There seems to be a lot of struggles in modernity. There seems to be a lot of spiritual angst. People don’t know who they are, or why they are, they go on journeys of self-discovery because they don’t seem to have answers to the basic questions.
“Who am I? Why am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? What’s it all about? What’s the meaning and purpose of life? These kinds of questions. Questions we should all ask.”
Msgr. Swetland acknowledged that these questions are good. In fact, they are questions that the Church tackles head on and answers. Quoting from The Baltimore Catechism, Msgr. Swetland said, “Why did God make me? God made me to know, love, and serve Him in this life so I may be with Him forever in the next. We have an answer to those questions.”
He continued by discussing one source of this spiritual angst that is present in modernity, explaining that a philosophy called Existentialism became popular in the mid-20th century. Existentialism asked questions about the meaning of existence, but Msgr. Swetland said, “Existentialism didn’t have an answer to those questions. It was all about you finding your own meaning and your own purpose.”
The Catholic Church has an answer for the spiritual and existential angst felt by so many. Paragraph 22 of Gaudium et Spes says:
In reality, it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear. For Adam, the first man, was a type of Him who was to come, Christ the Lord. Christ, the New Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of His love fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling.
“Did you hear that?” Msgr. Swetland asked. “Christ reveals us to ourselves. He reveals to us our most high calling. If one is searching for oneself, there’s only one place you’re going to find yourself. In Jesus. He reveals you to yourself. He has revealed me to myself. I know who I am because I have encountered Christ and Christ has revealed to me who I am and why I am. For He has revealed to me the merciful love of the Father, and has called me to be a part of His family.”
So if you feel like you need to find yourself, keep asking questions and keep digging deeper. But know where the answers to your question truly lie.
“It’s important that we know who we are and why we are, that search for self, finding oneself. It is only in Jesus that we discover who we really are.”
Listen to the full reflection below: