Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Habit #6 of Holy Catholic Families

(Click here to start from the beginning)

Habit #6 - Synergize

We host a monthly Rosary and Dessert at our home where we invite families to join us in praying the rosary. This time of prayer is followed by delicious desserts and an afternoon of fellowship. Lately we’ve been inviting families to spend more time in our home by following the Rosary and Dessert with dinner. It allows for more time for the adults to get to know one another and the kids to play.

At one of these recent events a lady commented on all the hustle and bustle going on in the kitchen. She was observing 8-10 adults and nearly 30 children glide in and out of the kitchen preparing food, serving food, and all without a mess. She said, “it looks like you all are dancing a choreographed dance. Kids duck, plates go up, spoons dish out, it’s amazing.”

That is synergy. It is when two or more work together to make something better than one could make alone. It’s the flight of geese. It’s the symphony. It’s the championship team. It’s the EMT’s, firefighters, and law enforcement saving lives together. It’s everyone doing their best, working together to make something great happen, even if it is just a “dance” in the kitchen at dinner time.

Yet synergy doesn’t just happen, at least not in the human realm, naturally. Everyone must have a common goal. The “dancers” must know their moves. They must also know their strengths and weaknesses.

For a family to synergize the members need more than just each other and awareness of their special skills and abilities. They must also be immersed in the grace of God. To paraphrase terribly, the family that prays together, synergizes together.

Does your family synergize? When I think about this question as it relates to my own family I would be tempted to say, “rarely”. However, perhaps my idea of synergy (and yours) is misplaced. Synergy is not perfection. It is not everyone getting along all of the time. Synergy is not the postcard-perfect family picture at Christmas time (how do people manage that?).

If we look at the image of the geese above we see a moment of synergy. We see a moment in time where everyone is clicking. The lead goose is cutting through the air creating an updraft for those behind. This in turn makes the flight easier for the two behind him. Their updraft makes it easier for those behind and so on. The flock behind, enjoying the ease of flight because of those in front are in turn lending their voices to encourage those in front. When the lead goose needs a break, he falls back in formation and another takes his spot.

Yet, again, this is a snapshot. We do not see the sick one that cannot keep up and must land for a time. We do not see the splintering of the flock and how now there are two weak flocks rather than one. Synergy is wonderful, it’s a goal, but it’s not a constant. The championship team may lose a game on its journey to greatness. Members of the symphony may hit the wrong notes. Families are filled with people, living stones that occasionally sin, splinter, and hit wrong notes.

Synergy is a goal but perfect synergy only happens in Heaven. While we are here, while we are on our journey, our flight toward Heaven, synergistic moments will help propel us forward. We’ll address ideas to help foster synergy in your family in the 5 Practical Steps of this Parent Connection. For now though, don’t fret if your family doesn’t synergize every moment of every day. Be open to God’s grace working in the life of your family. Be open to seeing even those small moments of synergy like when the kids are playing quietly together or when the family is simply together eating a meal. Little moments of synergy, moments of grace are the “words” of encouragement from the Lord urging us ever onward and upward towards our Heavenly home.

Memory Device - 1+1>2

To help remind us that synergy is more than simply the sum of people involved we use the memory device 1+1>2. It reminds us that when we work together we can find a better way. Too often we only approach things in life as either “my way” or “your way”. Synergy offers a “better way” or a “higher way”. It grows directly from the exercise of Habit #5 - Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood. When we synergize we understand the other’s solution and they understand ours and we all feel understood. Once this task is accomplished, a higher way will often reveal itself.

Faith Connection - Living in a state of Grace

Living a synergistic life in our families means living in the state of Grace. This state of Grace is a life lived within the Sacraments. Frequent reception of the Eucharist can strengthen the life of God (grace) within each family member. This Most Blessed Sacrament strengthens us for our journey and can make us more Christ-like. It truly is the “source and summit of the Christian life” as the Catechism tells us. Frequent recourse to the sacrament of Reconciliation helps free us from the things that weigh us down, the sin that hinders our flight toward Heaven. These two sacraments are our wings on this journey. Frequent reception of these sacraments can help us live a synergistic life, a life of Grace.

Sacrament Connection - Holy Orders (God+Priest+People)

We can see synergy and our memory device clearly in the sacrament of Holy Orders. This sacrament is crucial for synergy with each other and God. In all of the sacraments, most often administered through the priest or deacon, we can see that the sum is much larger than its parts. The sacraments require synergy with God, His priests, and each other. Baptism requires God, His minister (priest or deacon)*, and us. If we think about it carefully, so do all of the other sacraments. Holy Orders is the sacrament that helps facilitate synergy in our lives. It is the sacrament that joins us to God in the life of Grace through all of the other sacraments.
*in cases of necessity, anyone can baptize (see CCC 1256 for more information)

Virtue/Vice Connection - Lust/Chastity

Lust causes us to use others for our own purposes and/or pleasure. It is anti-synergistic. It is a sin that sees the other not as a soul created in the image and likeness of God destined for Heaven. Rather it blinds us to this reality and causes us to use others instead of working with the other toward Heaven. Chastity on the other hand allows us to see others (and ourselves) for who we truly are, Children of the King. Chastity helps us see clearly the goodness and dignity of others and prompts us to help them on their journey toward Heaven. Living a chaste life helps us to love others as God loves them and walk with them or rather fly with them toward the Lord!

5 Practical Steps

  1. Conduct experiments to show that your family members need one another and that the family is stronger when they are together.
  • Experiment #1 - ask your children to tie their shoes with one hand. It can’t easily be done. Now ask someone to lend a hand to the other. Although it may still be difficult to tie the shoe, working together it can be done!
  • Experiment #2 - give your child(ren) a popsicle stick and ask them to break it. This is easily done. Now give them 4-5 stick and ask them to break them all at once. This is a difficult feat even for the strongest. Help them to see that together, as a family, you are stronger than anyone alone. This is also a good opportunity to remind your children and spouse that everyone is in this together and that they should never feel alone. If they have a problem they are dealing with (work, school, addiction, etc.) they shouldn’t be afraid to seek help. Together the family is unbreakable. Satan likes to break us one by one, it’s the only way he can do it!!
  1. Plan a meal together as a family. Allow each person to come up with a favorite dish and work together to synergize the menu. Help each person contribute to the creation of the meal, homemade placemats, etc.

  2. Host a family talent night. Allow each member to show off his or her talents. Encourage members to be creative and show talents that perhaps the rest of the family hadn’t seen before. Help all to see how unique gifts, no matter how seemingly insignificant, contribute to the beauty of the family.

  3. The next time there is an argument in the family use the Synergy Action Plan - 1) Define the problem. 2) Listen to the other. 3) Share your views. 4) Brainstorm many different solutions. 5) Find the best solution - the higher way.

  4. Imagine that your family is stuck at your home for a week. Ask your family what sort of synergy is available in your family to make it through or even enjoyable. Create a list of contributions each family member can make. Create a chart like below to get started. Write each members name across the top and fill in contributions below each name. For example, under mom - Great cook, tells great jokes, can sing, likes to hike, etc. and so on for each member.
Mom Dad Billy Susan
Good Cook Funny Jokes Guitar Player Good Singer
Good at Games Likes Outdoors Good Reader Like Crafts
Likes Hiking Likes Building Likes Puzzles Likes Cards

Next: Habit 7 - Sharpen the Saw

Click here to read more from James M. Hahn - Blog  -  Books
Check out his ongoing memoir about life with his special-needs daughter, posts each Monday.

If you'd like to make a donation to help me get this book about Catherine completed, my family would greatly appreciate that and you'll be the first to know when it's ready.

God bless you - Jim Hahn

* Contains affiliate links.  No, that doesn't mean that the kids should leave the room.  Rather, it means that if you click on a link, and if you purchase something, I may get some financial remuneration for that click and buy.  All that means is that my kids will finally get to eat, just kidding but I may get something, just so you know...

No comments:

Our Homeschooling Experience