Holy Family

Holy Family

Friday, February 10, 2012

Feast of Saint Scholastica

Good morning. I recall not too long ago a couple came to my office for marital counseling. On a Likert type scale that I use to have clients personally assess how various things are in their lives they rated their relationship fairly high. In fact, on a scale of 0 through 10 they both rated their relationship to currently be at an 8. “Wow!” I said. Upon further inquiry they indicated that they weren’t there for any particular problem or distress in their marriage but they were looking to make some improvements. One of the areas they were particularly interested in making improvements in was in the area of ‘communication’ which came as no surprise as that is a rather frequent request. (I’d venture a guess that 99% of the couples who come into my office indicate a desire to improve their communication.) Upon further inquiry the wife indicated that they had been to another therapist, and they had been to a marriage seminar at a posh resort in the hopes of improving their marriage. In response to my inquiries as to what they found to be helpful they indicated that neither situation was at all helpful toward what they were hoping for. She went on to explain that with the therapist they were made to feel there were problems where there weren’t, and at the seminar they were given ways to talk in ‘I-messages’ which prompted them both to begin laughing. She went on to indicate that they were given cue cards to practice using these ‘I-messages’, “I feel, because….” She said “that was really awkward, we don’t talk like that.” I said to them, “Yup, I don’t either; I guess that was rather uncomfortable?” “Yes, and rather silly, but we actually had some fun with it and we wound-up having a good time in spite of that.” We spent time working-on and discussing the importance of attentiveness and validation in their relationship and they were able to better appreciate that they knew how to do these things but that they needed to remind themselves to do them.

I was reminded of this session with this couple after reading the Gospel passage for today’s Mass in which Jesus engages in the use of a therapeutic technique or ritualistic process by which to heal this man of his deafness. He uses a combination of spit mixed with mud and proclaims the word "Ephphatha!" (That is, "Be opened!"); and the man is cured. This reading prompted my recall of this couple’s humorous story because as with so many instances of couples like this they were able to discover that they had the capability to fix the problem themselves. Research tells us that much of what makes for positive change in counseling is the clients’ own strengths and experiences along with a positive relationship with the therapist. In fact, the relationship with the therapist is 7 times more important than any technique. Much like in the experience with the man in today’s Gospel, where it was the man’s faith which cured him, this couple came to know and appreciate with but a small amount of coaching that they knew how to effectively communicate with each other and it didn’t require any special techniques, skills, or cue cards to make things better. Unfortunately, like this couple and like the man in the Gospel we sometimes feel a need for more specialized or dramatic things to appreciate Jesus’ healing presence.

Speaking of communication, there is a humorous story involving our saint for today, Saint Scholastica and her brother, whose life we commemorate today. She apparently made an effort to get her brother, Saint Benedict, to remain with her so they could spend the time talking but he seemed not to listen or hear what she was asking. So frustrated with her brother’s unwillingness to respond she turned to God in prayer as a way to get his attention. To read more about this story go here. Like this story of Saint Scholastica and Saint Benedict and the young couple we all need to remind ourselves to be more attentive to the needs of others and show them kindness and care. May the Holy Spirit fill our lives and help us to be more present to one another today and throughout our journey. Make a great day!

Today we recall the good life, gifts, and work of Saint Scholastica.

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