In the field of psychology, which I have studied a bit, there is a theory about human behavior called “script theory” which postulates that many of our behaviors fall into certain predictable patterns—as though we were acting them out from a script. Within a family, the members take on different “roles” and may act according to previous behavior patterns. When the “scripts” of the family members are affirming and peaceful, they promote healthy family relationships. For example, a habit of greeting family members as they return home from work or school and asking about their day, listening attentively, promotes emotional intimacy.
However, because our behavioral scripts are, in some way, inherited through our experiences, someone who has not witnessed certain positive interactions in childhood may not have a script for those positive interactions later in life. Now, of course that doesn’t mean that we can’t develop new scripts after childhood, although learning them early helps tremendously. While parents indirectly train their children to disagree respectfully and work out a difference of opinion peacefully, they also offer others who witness the interaction a new script for handling disagreements. By witnessing, internalizing, and utilizing a respectful script, the person who was a witness, no matter how old they are, can begin to heal their own relationships.
I’ve found this to be true in my own life, and a source of tremendous hope. Spending time with other families, particularly those from my home parish, has given me a number of new scripts that I might not have gained otherwise. I can see how a mom handles a toddler’s emotional outburst, how a sibling consoles his brother in pain, how a couple subtly shows tender affection, or how they communicate frustration in a way that leads to a solution instead of blame. Simply by living everyday moments faithfully, they witness Christ to me and give me new “scripts” that reflect the Word of God. As Pope Francis said, “The Christian family is missionary: it announces the love of God to the world,” (Twitter, Dec. 28, 2014)
Additionally, counselors and therapists can use this theory to help people develop scripts even beyond what they have personally witnessed. A client whose behavior patterns are not helping to improve their relationships and situations can be encouraged to think creatively about what different behavioral choices they can make. Likewise, when we are open to him, the Holy Spirit can inspire and move us spontaneously to love more generously and selflessly. In practicing virtue, we develop scripts for ourselves that tend toward the good. In prayer we can call on the Lord to help us recognize those scripts that don’t reflect His Word and ask for the grace to receive new ones so that we can love as He loves us.
Urging support for the First Amendment Defense Act Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, issued the following statement on July 12, 2016:
Today the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA). The USCCB has been vocal in support of this legislation, as it would provide a measure of protection for religious freedom at the federal level. FADA is a modest but important step in ensuring conscience protection to faith-based organizations and people of all faiths and of no faith who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, protecting them from discrimination by the federal government. The increasing intolerance toward religious belief and belief in the conjugal meaning of marriage makes these protections essential for continuing faith-based charitable work, which supports the common good of our society. Faith-based agencies and schools should not lose their licenses or accreditation simply because they hold reasonable views on marriage that differ from the federal government’s view.
The definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, universally held for centuries, has nothing to do with disrespect for others, nor does it depend on religious belief. Rather, it is based on truths about the human person that are understandable by reason. Faithful to its commitment to serve the best interests of society, the Catholic Church will continue to promote and protect the truth of marriage as foundational to the common good. The Church will also continue to stand for the ability of all to exercise their religious beliefs and moral convictions in public life without fear, and to witness to the truth.
We are pleased to support the First Amendment Defense Act, and we urge Congress to pass this important legislation.