Healing the Family Tree
I wrote this article awhile back on God’s healing hand in our families. I need the reminder when I fixate on the fear of how my ex-husband’s choices will affect my daughter. A family can be corrupted in many ways, not just through divorce. Happily I hold on to the truth that God takes our ashes and makes them beautiful and whole once again.
“The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish.” -Pope John Paul II
If you’ve never been to a healing mass, I strongly recommend attending one. Each healing mass I’ve participated in has had God’s supernatural hope written all over it. Bringing healing to my life in all new levels. In most cases, at the end of the mass, the priest will have the attendees come forward. The priest will then lay hands on each individual and say a prayer. Each time I have received these prayers, they were very specific to what I was going through at the time. Sometimes scary how spot-on the prayers were in speaking to the depths of my heart.
Last year I attended a healing mass titled, “The Healing of the Family Tree.” The entire mass was centered around the healing of families, encompassing everything from addiction to mental disorders to resentment amongst siblings. When I went to the Family Tree mass, the prayer the priest had for me related to both a childhood insecurity and the hardship I was experiencing at the time. I couldn’t believe my ears, as I thought I was going to hear a more generic blessing over all families, not completely specific to mine. I think of this moment often. I reflect and say that same prayer whenever I start to feel the repercussions of what I’ve gone through. I realized we must not discount that our family wounds not only run deep, but affect how we function today. Prayers for family healing should be our lifeline as people of faith.
It’s safe to say that God cares a great deal about family. The comparison of marriage to Christ’s union with the church is a strong depiction of the ruthless and sacrificial love He wants in our families. Catholic social teaching holds that marriage and family life is the basic unit of every society. A society is only as healthy and stable with moral values as its families. A nation can be strong even if it sustains crushing economic and political burdens, so long as its families are strong. Healthy marriages and good, stable family life must be the concern of every civic minded person. The life of the Church depends upon its families. Strong, faith-filled families are made possible by a strong prayer life, genuine devotion to the church and active protection from evil.
As I was doing some light Catechism reading, I stumbled upon this warning of sin entering our family:
Marriage under the regime of sin
1606 Every man experiences evil around him and within himself. This experience makes itself felt in the relationships between man and woman. Their union has always been threatened by discord, a spirit of domination, infidelity, jealousy, and conflicts that can escalate into hatred and separation. This disorder can manifest itself more or less acutely, and can be more or less overcome according to the circumstances of cultures, eras, and individuals, but it does seem to have a universal character.
1607 According to faith the disorder we notice so painfully does not stem from the nature of man and woman, nor from the nature of their relations, but from sin. As a break with God, the first sin had for its first consequence the rupture of the original communion between man and woman. Their relations were distorted by mutual recriminations;96 their mutual attraction, the Creator's own gift, changed into a relationship of domination and lust;97 and the beautiful vocation of man and woman to be fruitful, multiply, and subdue the earth was burdened by the pain of childbirth and the toil of work.98
1608 Nevertheless, the order of creation persists, though seriously disturbed. To heal the wounds of sin, man and woman need the help of the grace that God in his infinite mercy never refuses them.99 Without his help man and woman cannot achieve the union of their lives for which God created them "in the beginning."
God tells us our families will encounter sin. In fact, family units are a favorite victim of sin. The other morning I woke up disappointed by something that had happened the evening prior and thought to myself, is there anything worse than sin? It’s just so awful. It tricks you into dissatisfaction while throwing guilt at you from every angle, then ultimately leaves you deeply bothered. It is this very cycle that brings sadness into our families. Sadness that convinces people they’ll never heal from their past. Sadness that paralyzes one’s thoughts, fixating on their family discord being too impossible for God. And sadness that discourages bringing children into our world altogether. We MUST combat this delusion with our faith in God’s healing power through prayer. There are real dimensions in all of our families that need very specific prayer.
I’ve recently started reading through, “The Healing of Families: How to Pray Effectively for Those Stubborn Personal and Familial Problems” by Fr. Yozefu - B. Ssemakula (your guess is as good as mine on that pronunciation). This book discusses different access points where sin can enter your family and how to overcome them in prayer. The four main “access points” this book covers are: unforgiveness and/or childhood trauma, unhealthy relationships with friends, occult involvement, and family bondages. The book goes into a thorough explanation of each point and what prayers to say for deliverance. The end of the book outlines A Family Healing Prayer Service. The mass involves both immediate and extended family members and for each access point, there are scripted prayers and times of confession. What hope.
Where this book is helpful in a practical sense, what is even more important is our belief that God actually can do what He says. I believe in the power of prayer with all that I am. Not only because I’ve seen its miraculous ways, but because I’m closer to God because of it. I’m with C.S. Lewis on this one, “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me.”
Pray with fervence that God can heal every facet of sin that has crept into your family. Pray that He protects the family bonds that bring Him glory and believe in His power to figure out all of the crazy in between.
Image by Wildflowers Photography