Bishop, Randolf Calvo delivered the homily for the Jubilee Mass for 2012 this Trinity Sunday, noting how it is impossible to wrap our head around the idea that God is One, and at the same time Three. He related this is because we cannot relate to the triune nature of ourselves. A song lyric from our age came to mind, “One is the Loneliest Number,” Three Dog Night.
Structural Family Therapy is a system in counseling. There are three types of families, Clear, Rigid, and Diffuse. Clear families are healthy families with clearly defined units. They are individuals and communities within themselves. A rigid family emphasizes the individual, at the expense of family cohesion and communication. Diffuse families enmesh themselves. The emphasis is upon community. The individual is lost.
Bishop Calvo related from “One is the Loneliest Number.” “Two can be as bad as one,” if they become rigid, caving onto themselves, becoming selfish. Salvador Minuchin, developed the idea of the main family subunit, the husband and wife, and the children subunits. The family is a subsystem of society as a whole. There are subsystems for work, church, school, shopping, athletics, music, and dance, all parts of the society we function in everyday.
Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show teaches what society requires. “Now you got yourself two good hands and when your brother is troubled you got to reach out your one hand for him ‘Cause that’s what it’s there for. When your heart is troubled you got to reach out your other hand reach it out to the man up there ‘Cause that’s what he’s there for.” The family, like the individual, must have clear boundaries, not enmeshed into the rest of the world, but not rigid, unable to integrate into society.
One example is the HHS Mandate and our Universal Healthcare debate. For the conservatives, the corporation, a macroscopic family system, is an individual, rigid against the rest of the world. The rest of the world has no right to tell it how to spend its money or run its business. It has values and to the bad place for people who would infringe upon those values. The opposite extreme is the female, an individual, with the right to use her own body as she so chooses. She has rights and values, and to the bad place for the person who would infringe upon those right and values.
Both sides are wrong. We are all individuals and at the same time members of the communities in which we live. Erik Erickson developed the central processes individuals and groups must grow through and in order.
We must learn to trust, in order to develop autonomy. Only after this are we ready to channel our unfocused energy into the world. Ericson called this initiative. In our terrible twos we learned, our right and obligation to autonomy and initiative. These be damned, we still lived with the baby gate, the electrical socket protectors and the locks on the kitchen cabinet with the cleaning supplies.
We can only recognize the autonomy and the initiative of others, including our opponents in the healthcare debate, when we trust them as members of our society, sometimes in spite of the evidence. We must also recognize our own autonomy, as Catholics, and our obligation to initiative, “When your sister is troubled reaching out our hand for her ‘Cause that’s what it’s there for. When our heart is troubled we reach out our other hand to the man up there ‘Cause that’s what he’s there for.”
Only then can we become an industrious, vibrant society. We cannot understand God, One, and Three, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, if we cannot understand ourselves, one in three, father, mother, and children. Where do the rights of the individual end and the obligations of society begin? At our Jubilee Mass were 89 couples with 2914 cumulative years between us. The average couple has worked this individual in society thing in their families for 32.74 years. We can solve this family versus individual thing, or we can debate this thing for the next forty years, with no resolution, as we have for the past forty years. The choice is ours.