Home schooling: what the church could learn from families.Church leaders--from Pope John Paul II Pope John Paul II (Latin: Ioannes Paulus PP. II, Italian: Giovanni Paolo II, Polish: Jan Paweł II) born on down--often call on the, Christian, family become a "domestic church," a church in miniature. This is fine and good, and it has its strengths. But there is also a flip side Flip side
In the context of general equities, opposite side to a proposition or position (buy, if sell is the proposition and vice versa). : The church can benefit from becoming more "family-like." In fact, such a perspective can offer valuable principles for transforming today's parishes.
The church, I would argue, needs the family just as much as the family needs the church. The following seven gifts are just a flew of the many that the laity ill their family relationships offer church leaders.
"Mi casa es su casa. My house is your house. Come on in; make yourself at home. Please join us for dinner." A hallmark of the Christian family is hospitality. Families are naturally good at welcoming and inviting in the stranger. While safety is always an issue, children are still taught to make sure that the stranger is welcomed around the table.
Families teach through word and action to share what we have, knowing that we are enriched by the stranger. Making room for one more is part of the sacred in the ordinary of everyday family life, and it reflects what Mother Teresa taught: "I see Christ in everyone."
As our own six children have grown up and moved on, we have taken in foreign college students. Our family has been blessed by this rich experience of learning about other cultures and religions. Our lives have been expanded by our new friends from Tanzania, Germany, Italy, Sweden, China, South Korea, and Ukraine.
Today my wife and I struggle with the prospect of downsizing (1) Converting mainframe and mini-based systems to client/server LANs.
(2) To reduce equipment and associated costs by switching to a less-expensive system.
(jargon) downsizing our family home after it has served as a convening place for our large family for so long. This past Christmas, Sarah, our 14-year-old grandchild, who has endured more than her share of life's bumps, told her father how she really likes coming to our house because she feels loved there. That comment has kept us from calling the real estate agent just yet. Hospitality helps keep us rooted.
Some suggestions for parish leaders:
* Form a parish liturgy committee of parishioners who throw the best parties and give them a budget. Have them transform the parish hall, church proper, and meeting spaces into extensions of their living rooms and kitchens and bring that same warm, inviting atmosphere to these spaces.
* Help parishioners so they will see their own home tables as sacred and holy, as is the parish altar table.
* Make the practice of welcoming and hospitality the hallmark of all parish worship and events by asking: Can everything this faith community does be viewed by a visitor or newcomer as welcoming and hospitable hos·pi·ta·ble
1. Disposed to treat guests with warmth and generosity.
2. Indicative of cordiality toward guests: a hospitable act.
3. ? Then set about making the necessary changes.
In healthy families members listen to one another and communicate through words and actions. In healthy families there are no secrets. Everyone knows on some level all that goes on. This communication includes the fights and healing, family struggles and celebrations, ordinary conversation and special discussions. It is also all those words, gestures, and actions that "lift the heart and mind to God."
At family meals we teach our children to take turns when speaking of the day's events and encourage polite and positive responses. We don't aim for perfection, and we don't get it either. This way we foster relationship skills. At our table we ask, "What are you most grateful and least grateful for today?" Through this ritual we hear the concerns and the joys family members experience daily. For us this is shared prayer.
Healthy communication means there is openness and clear accountability among the members. Promises are made, and are expected to be kept. When we need help, we speak up.
Some suggestions for parish leaders:
* Routinely hold parish forums and other listening sessions for all to express their voice--including the discontented dis·con·tent·ed
Restlessly unhappy; malcontent.
* End every parish meeting with an opportunity for participants to voice what worked for them and what didn't. Respond to concerns at the next meeting or speak with those involved about a solution.
* If the leadership is not particularly good at handling conflict, get some training.
* Form small Christian communities within the parish and have the homilist hom·i·ly
n. pl. hom·i·lies
1. A sermon, especially one intended to edify a congregation on a practical matter and not intended to be a theological discourse.
2. A tedious moralizing lecture or admonition. attend one group each week prior to preparing the Sunday homily homily (hŏm`əlē), type of oral religious instruction delivered to a church congregation. In the patristic period through the Middle Ages the focus of the homily was on the explanation and application of texts read or sung during the to build upon what the readings are saying to ordinary people.
* Build into the parish abundant communication systems. This requires more than the Sunday bulletin. What about a small AM radio station, a phone tree for prayer petitions, a monthly newsletter? Use the prayers of the faithful to pray for real-life family concerns of parishioners.
* Share information openly about parish money matters, leadership changes, building needs, and pressing social concerns. Share these in a way that communicates your trust in the parishioners' ability to handle such matters.
5. Caring relationships
The reason any of us can even begin to comprehend the imagery of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and God as Trinity is because it is based upon something that families knob a great deal about: relationships.
Our God is a God of loving relationships of total and transforming generosity, complete and always giving. Families know this at their core.
Just as it is important to see God as not only male, it may be valuable to re-image God as a married couple. After all, God is love. And God as parent is something we all can grasp regardless of how incomplete our own family experience has been.
Also, in families it is appropriate that children primarily take and parents primarily give. With most parents, children can never correct the imbalance because they receive far more than they can ever give in return. This is just the way it is in families. It is within family life that our understanding of a limitless and unconditional God emerges.
I am a first-generation Italian American An Italian American is an American of Italian descent. The phrase may refer to someone born in the United States of Italian heritage or to someone who has immigrated to the United States from Italy. . Recently my wife and I visited my grandparents' birthplace and met my Italian relatives. Our new-found cousins took us into their home and gave us a banquet feast like that of the prodigal son prodigal son, in the New Testament, parable of Jesus about heaven and the sinner who repents. A young man leaves home and becomes a wastrel; repentant, he returns to be received with joyful welcome. . We struggled with our different languages, but we had a common bond of family love that united us. Such is the essence of family relationships.
My family is defined by all who have gone before me and all who will come after me. This connection is fierce and persistent. If there are divisions, we each suffer. In families we place relationships before anything else.
Some suggestions for parish leaders:
* Increase awareness among parishioners that their everyday moments within their families are indeed God moments. Tell them emphatically that these are sacramental sacramental, in the Roman Catholic Church, aid to devotion that is not a sacrament. Sacramentals are commonly divided into six classes: prayer, anointing, eating, confession, giving, and blessings. moments of grace in which they encounter God.
* Caring is love in action. Have different parishioners come to the rectory RECTORY, Eng. law. Corporeal real property, consisting of a church, glebe lands and tithes. 1 Chit. Pr. 163. for regularly scheduled potluck suppers. Get routinely invited to their homes for picnics and home Masses to discover how eucharistic the people already are.
4. Shared sense of purpose
The church, like many corporations, has a word for shared sense of purpose: mission. With the exception of Stephen Covey cov·ey
n. pl. cov·eys
1. A family or small flock of birds, especially partridge or quail. See Synonyms at flock1.
2. A small group, as of persons. followers followers
see dairy herd. , most families do not write out a mission statement. It would be alien to them; awkward to be sure.
But ask families what is important to them, and the words pour out. They will tell about their concern and hope for their children's future. They will talk about transmitting to the next generation the capacity to make a difference in the world.
"We are the Paglias. I live here. I am needed. "When our children were young and my mother was still alive, they all knew that Grandma would sew sew
v. sewed, sewn or sewed, sew·ing, sews
1. To make, repair, or fasten by stitching, as with a needle and thread or a sewing machine: their tattered tat·tered
1. Torn into shreds; ragged.
2. Having ragged clothes; dressed in tatters.
a. Shabby or dilapidated.
b. Disordered or disrupted. blankets and fix whatever needed to be repaired. Each of us young and old--has a role to play in our family. Vibrant families foster this sense of belonging and ownership and purpose.
This sense of purpose is not necessarily spoken of, but it is deeply held and acutely shared. It's a tragedy that the church has not tapped into this conviction within families. It is the essence of vocation: to change the world by using our God-given talents.
Parents want their children to grow up to be happy. This includes enjoying the career path they choose. But too often there is a disconnect disconnect - SCSI reconnect between vocational calling and getting a great job. This is because families have not been taught that each person has a vocational calling not just priests, sisters, and brothers.
By Baptism we all are called, and 99.9 percent of us will answer that call within the marketplace, living in the world--often marrying and raising a family, holding secular jobs, and trying to live generously.
Some suggestions for parish leaders:
* Have blessings throughout the year for various groups (e.g., people in the healthcare field, education, law enforcement) and for various family passages (e.g., sending children off to school, graduation, summer vacation Summer vacation (also called summer holidays or summer break) is a vacation in the summertime between school years in which students are off for 3 months, depending on the country and district. , young families, grandparents grandparents npl → abuelos mpl
grandparents grand npl → grands-parents mpl
grandparents grand npl , single adults, parents, married couples, blended families Blended family
A family formed by the remarriage of a divorced or widowed parent. It includes the new husband and wife, plus some or all of their children from previous marriages.
Mentioned in: Family Therapy , stay-at-home and working moms).
* Thank parents for their vocation and acknowledge how our culture does not recognize all that parents do for the future of society. Offer parents encouragement and acknowledgement for the good they do.
* Help parents by providing children a place and space in the parish now, not in the future. Make Sunday liturgy a welcoming place for children and young people.
* Build the parish around family rites of passage: the birth of a child, the marriage of two families, and the death of a loved one. Use these family rites of passage to develop the parish with dynamic sacramental programs for Baptisms, marriages, and funerals. These powerful family moments allow parish ministers to help families remember, heal, and celebrate their own family stories. Open and connect these moments to the larger gospel story of Jesus' death and Resurrection.
Humility is both the cornerstone of the other gifts and also the most problematic, because families tend to be too humble to ever think of offering this gift to the church. But offer it they must.
Healthy families are not hierarchical. They provide built-in reminders that we are not perfect and that we need God in our lives. Our families help us deal not with being perfect but, rather, with being faithful.
We learn to receive forgiveness and to be open to God's help when we've reached the ends of our own limits.
Marriage partners and parents are constantly reminded they are not perfect. Our partner and/or our children are often all too willing to point this out. Humility abounds and with it, ample room for forgiveness and reconciliation. People who love one another also hurt one another. The old adage, "Fall seven times, get up eight" is lived out in family life. Ask any parent with teenagers.
It can be said that while the church operates from holy orders, the family operates mostly from holy disorder. Families can even thrive in the midst Adv. 1. in the midst - the middle or central part or point; "in the midst of the forest"; "could he walk out in the midst of his piece?"
midmost of chaos be cause of an overarching o·ver·arch·ing
1. Forming an arch overhead or above: overarching branches.
2. Extending over or throughout: "I am not sure whether the missing ingredient . . . love that bonds it together.
The church's understanding of "orders" sometimes leaves out the necessary and complementary understanding of love. "Orderly love" is both a complementary and a contradictory tension. The family may at times be operating with love and only limited order. The church can bring this understanding of order to families only when it also has taken from families their knowledge and grasp of love.
Some suggestions for parish leaders:
* Form a wisdom group of grandmothers for the parish leadership to sit with and listen to about how things are occurring within today's families and what is needed. Use this forum to gain insight about handling the grievances committed by the institutional church. Bring questions and concerns to this body, not for any quick fixes, but to pray about and ponder.
* Recreate the sacrament of Reconciliation in a way that the leadership models the need for forgiveness.
* Humility comes from being humiliated hu·mil·i·ate
tr.v. hu·mil·i·at·ed, hu·mil·i·at·ing, hu·mil·i·ates
To lower the pride, dignity, or self-respect of. See Synonyms at degrade. parents know this lesson, as all good leaders must come to know it. The U.S. Catholic Church is in crisis today in part because we have not learned this valuable lesson well enough. Look to parents as they model a leadership based upon service and humility.
In the New Testament we read that Mary "pondered" what was to unfold within her. Later she ponders the crucified Christ. How often are families drawn by our circumstances to mull over mull over
to study or ponder: he mulled over the arrangements [probably from muddle]
Verb 1. , deliberate, weigh, reflect, and even brood brood
offspring or pertaining to offspring.
a mare dedicated to the production of foals. ? Parents constantly consider every unfolding aspect of family life. Contemplation is often done not in a monastery but in the bedroom, the bathroom, the kitchen, and the car.
Family life offers much to ponder: marital struggles, a child with school problems, financial burdens, medical concerns of aging parents. The list is endless.
Through it all, though, we are people of tenacious te·na·cious
1. Clinging to another object or surface; adhesive.
2. Holding together firmly; cohesive.
viscid; adhesive. hope. We see God's reckless and generous love played out in such familial hope. Through all the upsets and bumps of the sacred-in-the-ordinary times of family life, hope abounds.
We see the next generation as the fulfillment of what is yet to be. I am my father's promise of a college education. Our children have the home and the life my immigrant grandparents only dreamed of.
Some suggestions for parish leaders:
* Families know how hope gets restored and how humble forgiveness and generous love heal a broken heart. Preach these stories and preach often about how God's healing love is being revealed over and over again in the families' stories.
* Seek ways for these stories of hope and transformation to be shared through parish ministries.
* Take care of yourself. The parish is only as viable as its leadership. If you, the leader, are depressed or in a period of emotional difficulty, get support. Join a clergy group. Get counseling. Go on a retreat that renews you. Get rest; take your day off. Tired parents end up seeing their children as a burden, and the task becomes joyless joy·less
joy . This is also true for priests.
* Learn family-systems theory to help you find or rediscover Re`dis`cov´er
v. t. 1. To discover again.
Verb 1. rediscover - discover again; "I rediscovered the books that I enjoyed as a child" joy in life and within ministry. Discover the hope of multigenerationally thinking people.
7. Humor humor, according to ancient theory, any of four bodily fluids that determined man's health and temperament. Hippocrates postulated that an imbalance among the humors (blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile) resulted in pain and disease, and that good health was
There is the story of the husband who goes to the doctor for his annual physical and brings his wife along. After the examination the doctor has the wife come into his office alone. He tells her that her husband has a very debilitating de·bil·i·tat·ing
Causing a loss of strength or energy.
Weakening, or reducing the strength of.
Mentioned in: Stress Reduction , life-threatening illness. However, if she is willing to do certain things, her husband might pull out of it.
If and only if she is willing to make him a hearty breakfast every morning, send him to work with a great lunch, cook him special evening meals, make love to him morning, noon, and night, and basically be at his beck and call for his every desire, the husband, the doctor reports, may actually make it.
As they drive home the husband says to his wife, "So what did the doctor say?" His wife replies: "He said you're going to die."
Humor is the hallmark of health and balance. It goes hand and hand with hope, and it is essential for life. Humor provides the fulcrum fulcrum: see lever. that can shift momentary hopelessness into laughter. With our capacity to reframe Re`frame´
v. t. 1. To frame again or anew. the circumstances that confront us into a belly laugh, we allow God to once again reenter re·en·ter also re-en·ter
v. re·en·tered, re·en·ter·ing, re·en·ters
1. To enter or come in to again.
2. To record again on a list or ledger.
v.intr. our hearts and fill us with energy (grace) for another day.
Life is not a lark lark, common name for members of the large family Alaudidae, perching birds of terrestrial habits, chiefly of the Old World and best-known through the skylark, Alauda arvensis. , but our ability to respond gracefully to life has a lot to do with our sense of humor Noun 1. sense of humor - the trait of appreciating (and being able to express) the humorous; "she didn't appreciate my humor"; "you can't survive in the army without a sense of humor"
sense of humour, humor, humour . Humor is best when we are able to laugh at ourselves. In doing so we remove the fear and sometimes panic that can take hold of us and immobilize im·mo·bi·lize
1. To render immobile.
2. To fix the position of a joint or fractured limb, as with a splint or cast.
Healthy families have a sense of humor and a spirit of playfulness that allows them not to take themselves too seriously. They are not prone to be so "significant" as to not be able to put crisis and situations into perspective. Whenever a problem arose, my parents would say, "Things will get better. This will pass. We'll get through this."
Some suggestions for parish leaders:
* Develop a parish-wide sense of humor. Only people who really know and love one another can tease and joke. Otherwise it can be sarcastic sar·cas·tic
1. Expressing or marked by sarcasm.
2. Given to using sarcasm.
[sarc(asm) + -astic, as in enthusiastic. and even cruel. Place a joke or two in the bulletin, create a parish humor bulletin board with cartoons and funny thoughts, or hold a parish comedy night.
* "Tell on yourself" as a way to assist in a great parish-wide capacity to laugh.
* See humor as non-negotiable. Holy people can be humorous as well. These traits are not opposites. To paraphrase par·a·phrase
1. A restatement of a text or passage in another form or other words, often to clarify meaning.
2. The restatement of texts in other words as a studying or teaching device.
v. an old saying, "The church is mysterious; don't take it serious." Since the living God lies infinitely beyond anything our eyes can see or our minds can understand, we the faithful need our wits about us to remain hopeful.
* Use humor to draw parish liberals and conservatives together so that the entire community can move beyond antagonism antagonism /an·tag·o·nism/ (an-tag´o-nizm) opposition or contrariety between similar things, as between muscles, medicines, or organisms; cf. antibiosis.
n. to find common ground.
* Learn a nonamxious leadership style. Infuse in·fuse
1. To steep or soak without boiling in order to extract soluble elements or active principles.
2. To introduce a solution into the body through a vein for therapeutic purposes. a sense of play in all that you do and say as an antidote for anxiousness. Without play and humor our human capacities to listen, to forgive, to love, are undermined.
"Love your neighbor as you love yourself" requires one to also "love yourself as you love your neighbor." Both commands are compelling and offer wisdom. The Christian family as domestic church says something quite radical and challenging to all families. Similarly, the church becoming more of a family offers a compelling and challenging perspective for transforming the church.
A family-like environment greatly helps the church in fulfilling its mission to make disciples for our Lord and to promote the reign of God in the world. Furthermore, the qualities that are manifested within a vibrant family are the same qualities that will make our parishes and dioceses vibrant. These qualities will appear at the parish or the diocese when they are recognized as readily available gifts families have to offer.
Our present crisis is one of imagination. Families can be a rich and graced source for parish renewal and for the much-touted new evangelization e·van·gel·ize
v. e·van·gel·ized, e·van·gel·iz·ing, e·van·gel·iz·es
1. To preach the gospel to.
2. To convert to Christianity.
To preach the gospel. in this new century.
DONALD I. PAGLIA is codirector of the Hartford Archdiocesan arch·di·o·cese
The district under an archbishop's jurisdiction.
archdi·oc Family Life Office. He is a marriage and family therapist and a past president of the National Association of Catholic Family, Ministers.