SWITZERLAND, Claudia Rohner •
Eight couples and their children met on Sunday, 19 April 2015 for the third Family Day at Friedberg, Gossau.
The theme this year was “Combining Family and Work Creatively – a new dimension”. It is a challenge for every married couple, so the couples were looking forward to the talk given by Melanie and Ulrich Grauert who had confronted themselves intensively with it. While the children were welcomed by the young baby sitter and went off to play, the individual participants introduced themselves briefly and related a pleasant event of the past week. This set the tone for the day.
Not either-or, but, and
This is wholly in keeping with the teaching of Fr Joseph Kentenich, who is known in Austria as “the priest with the and”, because he always tried to connect things that were actually opposites – for example, authority and obedience, attachment and freedom. He did not avoid tensions, but tried to use them in a positive way.
In the same way the speakers broadened the concept “family”, so that the world of work become part of it, and the two formed a unit. This union is not left behind when “we go to work”. It is also important to talk together about work, and the complementary view of our marriage partner can become an enrichment. According to a study, parents today want to do things better than any generation before them, and as a result put themselves under pressure. Then they are torn between their job and their family, and this becomes the source of stress. It is often the case that high achievements are demanded of both the children and workers, and this pressure gives rise to tension.
Tension in nature is discharged in the form of a storm. It is an energy that can be destructive and dangerous. If, however, we connect two opposite poles, the charge is balanced and the electricity flows. Figuratively speaking tension becomes productive, positive and powerful. Mr & Mrs Grauert passed on some tricks by which they overcome everyday stresses. At the beginning of the year they consciously keep a few weekends completely free for the family; Ulrich Grauert asks his wife and children about their day already on the way home so that they can adjust themselves to the situation before they arrive.
After the talk there was time for the couples to discuss what they had heard. Later they came together and it became clear that it would always be a challenge to combine work and family life. Each family is different and will have to find a suitable solution.
During lunch together in the canteen they were joined by their lively children.
That afternoon Fr Josef Hälg told them a story about a jar to show how we can spend our precious time for the really important things in life.
The day ended with a lively Holy Mass in the packed Schoenstatt chapel. Fr Josef Hälg geared it to the children. The bigger children were asked to light the candles in a solemn way and to read the petitions. The radiant eyes of the little ones showed how they really enjoyed the community experience.
Enriched by what they had heard from Melanie and Ulrich Grauert, the spiritual input of Fr Josef Hälg, and the contributions of the other couples, the families returned home. They took along with them some inspirations that will hopefully accompany them in everyday life.