As time passes, our recovery brings with it new growth and awareness of God and ourselves. By living a life of honesty, openness, and willingness, God fills our hearts, minds, and spirits with new knowledge and wisdom, or “God thoughts.” For me, these thoughts have often been directed toward my family. God wants to bring healing to our generational and family wounds—to bring peace to ourselves and our family members, to those both living as well as the deceased in purgatory.
Many of us in recovery come to realize through the Twelve Steps and the sacraments that our families have suffered from the direct or indirect results of our addictions and unhealthy attachment. We also often realize that our own parents, grandparents, and family members have carried their own sinfulness, wounds, and unhealthy attachments. Starting with our first parents, Adam and Eve, the effects of Original Sin have continued over countless generations throughout all of our family trees.
God has helped me discover some hard truths about my grandparents and parents who helped shape me into who I am. My fraternal grandfather was an alcoholic who left my grandmother at home alone to care for six children while he went out playing cards and drinking with his buddies. His actions eventually led to a divorce and his early death, leaving behind a resentful mother and her 6 wounded children. My grandmother was a woman who rarely smiled.
My maternal grandmother had a food addiction, leading to bypass surgery and complications that left her addicted to barbiturates. She would pass out leaving my mom, a teenager at the time and the oldest of six siblings, to fend for the needs of the family. My mother repeated this behavior years later because of her food addiction as well as binge drinking and heavy smoking. My dad followed in his father’s footsteps, bartending in the evenings to help make ends meet. These unlimited opportunities for drinking lead to his drunkenness and serious anger problems. As a result, I grew up in a very unstable and wounded home.
My parents’ dysfunction was the driving force behind my two abortions. As a result of these two decisions, my life spiraled out of control for many years as the insanity of familial addiction repeated itself in my life just like it had in the generations before me. I experienced feelings of abandonment, resentment, and fear—the same ones I’m sure my mom and grandmother felt. We had all learned to cope with our pain by numbing ourselves with drugs, alcohol, food, sex, or other unhealthy attachments. We did the best we could with what we had been given. Hurt people, hurt people.
However, powered by God’s grace and healing, we can stop this generational cycle of dysfunction, addiction, and sinfulness. The Twelve Steps and the sacraments give our lives new direction and purpose. Time does not heal all wounds. Christ heals all wounds—past, present, and future!
One way to bring God’s healing to our generational and family wounds is to take all of our pain and sinfulness to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This sacrament offers powerful graces. God wants us to heal from our familial wounds and not live enslaved to them. Many families have suffered from generations of trauma: divorce, unresolved grief, abandonment issues, physical, psychological, and emotional abuse, sexual traumas, suicide, abortion, and the list goes on. Yet, God’s mercy and healing await us in the confessional.
Another way to bring healing to our generational and family wounds is to seek a spiritual director, a Christian therapist, or a specialized healing program designed to bring familial and generational healing, hope, and peace. Fr. Lou Cerulli offers a wonderful ministry called Peace, Freedom, and Healing that can greatly aid in healing our generational and family wounds.
We are so very blessed by a faith that invites us to pray for the dead during Mass. Therefore, another way to bring healing to our generational and family wounds is to offer the reception of the Eucharist for the soul of someone in our family who is deceased. It could be for someone who has harmed us or someone whom we have harmed. We can also have a Mass celebrated for the repose of a family member’s soul on his or her birthday, wedding anniversary, death anniversary, and so on.
Lastly, I leave you with this beautiful prayer that we can recite often to ask the Lord to heal us from our generational and family wounds.
Prayer for Intergenerational Healing
(Based upon a prayer and the writings of Dr. Kenneth McAll)
In the name of Jesus, and by his authority,
I come against any and every curse
that may have been directed to any member of our family.
I call down the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ
and I break any curse on my family or person
in the Holy name of Jesus.
I forgive and bless those who sent them.
Lord bless our enemies—do so by sending
your Holy Spirit to lead them to repentance,
to healing and to freedom.
I now break in the name of Jesus Christ
all psychic heredity and any demonic hold
upon my family line as a result of the
disobedience of any of my ancestors.
I declare all of this to be absolutely null and void.
In the Holy Name of Jesus.
In the Holy Name of Jesus.
In the Holy Name of Jesus.
In the Name of Jesus Christ,
I renounce all the work of evil,
together with any occult practices of my ancestors.
I subscribe myself to Jesus Christ,
my Lord and Savior, both now and forever.
By God’s grace, Kathy has been clean and sober since June 1, 2006, and is an active member of Catholic in Recovery. She also feels called to share the merciful love of Christ’s healing grace with all those suffering from the pain and wounds caused by abortion. On most days, you can find her at daily Mass, the gym, or caring for the needs of her family.