Getting to Know You

April1-7, 2004
Getting to Know You
By Catholic News Service
By Dyann Nashton SUN contibuting writer SKANEATLES — Under the guidance of retired priest, Father James Lauducci, more than 30 individuals pondered where they may fit into the personality puzzle as described by the enneagram. Derived from the Greek words meaning “nine points”, the enneagram provides a way of determining and understanding personalities. The topic was explored at a workshop entitled, “Introduction to the Enneagram: Basic Workshop” at Stella Maris Retreat Center in Skaneatles on March 13.

“It acts as a road map. You can’t stop at a convenience store and ask for directions for how to become a healthy person,” said Father Lauducci. Placing a three-legged stool in the middle of the room during the class, Father Lauducci asked the class to consider its stability. He described the enneagram as nine personality types divided equally into three general categories: the head, the heart and the body/gut. These, he explained, are the fundamental operating centers or motivations of each person. But when two duct-taped legs of the tripod stool are shortened, the stool will not function properly, he illustrated. “A great deal of emphasis on any one atrophies the others.” Father Lauducci presented the three categories at length as attendees attempted to determine into which of the three triads they best fit. Participants can help eliminate six of the nine personality types by examining which of the triads best describes them. But Father Lauducci warned, “You can’t tell your type from behavior, you have to look at how you process things.” The enneagram is not a shopping excursion. “It is an awareness of who you are and who you are not,” said Father Lauducci. “The acid test is this; You’ve got to not like some parts of your personality. Then, you need to ask yourself if you’re willing to work on it.”

Father Lauducci traced the history of the enneagram in the U.S. as it evolved from its suspected beginning as part of the Sufi culture. It entered America’s academic scene via proponents from both the former Soviet Union and South America, he said. Picking up momentum from UC Berkley on the West Coast and Loyola University in Chicago, where Father Lauducci received his training, the movement became popular. Enneagram, once only communicated orally, came to be appreciated as a tool for spiritual journey. Today the market is flooded with books on the subject, said Father Lauducci.

Indeed a favorite in Christian retreats across the country, the enneagram provides a unique path for spiritual development. “It’s used as a spiritual journey to find God by showing us how we can become more objective in viewing ourselves,” Father Lauducci explained. Terms, such as “gifts” and “compulsions,” are used to describe opposing characteristics of each of the nine personality types. From this perspective, said Father Lauducci, the old religious axiom rings true: we are destroyed by our sins. “The sin is nothing more than the overuse of our gifts,” he pointed out.

“Using our gifts properly and becoming detached from our compulsions helps us move ahead, get in touch with our soul and in turn helps us touch God,” Father Lauducci said. And although the intensive day-long workshop helped each participant move toward discovering their personality type, Father Lauducci explained, “another program will tell you what to do with it.” The introductory session under Father Lauducci’s instruction has traditionally been a weekend-long retreat. Due to an increasingly busy audience, he tailored the program to better fit busy schedules.

The follow-up workshop, “Borders and Boundaries: A Deeper Enneagram Weekend” scheduled for June 4-6 will delve into the dynamics of the enneagram. It also presents the relationships between boundaries and personality types and the art of setting boundaries. For more info, call the Stella Maris Retreat Center at 315-685-6836.

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