At some point quite a few years back, I set up a meeting with my pastor to talk about my life and, in particular, my use of pornography. I don’t remember much about the conversation, but I do remember that he gave me a book titled Unbound that I read and enjoyed. This book started me down a path of encountering Jesus and His Church in a new way.
Unbound offers a deliverance and healing ministry called Heart of the Father Ministries. They describe their ministry as “a safe, loving, effective prayer model that helps people to respond to the good news of the gospel.” Its five pillars include repentance and faith, forgiveness, renunciation, authority, and the Father’s blessing.
Giving Heart of the Father Ministries a Try
Learning that this wasn’t just a book but a Catholic ministry and approach to one’s spiritual life, I began to research whether there was a Heart of the Father Ministries event nearby. Sure enough, I found a parish a few hours away hosting one of their conferences and I attended. I enjoyed the experience so much that within a two-year period, I attended the conference three times. However, to say that I was nervous when I showed up the first time would definitely be an understatement!
During the conference, you take time to examine your life. This is done privately but within the context of a group. Although a little bit different than a pure examination of conscience, you are invited to consider major moments of pain in your life and whether those moments were your fault or not. You also take into account your family story, since sins can often be passed down from generation to generation.
This examination, along with the help of a team and the Holy Spirit, helps you open up to the ways that the Spirit wants to heal you and bring you into deeper freedom. The Holy Spirit might heal you from the effects of your sinful behavior even if you have already been absolved of the sin. An example of this might be receiving healing and release from a memory related to pornography that until then has continued to haunt your imagination.
Heart of the Father Ministries also focuses on healing you from sins that have been afflicted on you by family members. For example, if your father was an alcoholic, there may be spiritual and emotional wounds carried within your soul, even if your father never physically hurt you.
During the three conferences I attended, I met some amazing people. Many of these people had similar life stories to the people I’ve met in 12-step groups—those marred by family secrets, abused by family members, and struggling with chronic addictions and internal pain.
How Heart of the Father Ministries Has Impacted My Life
I’m not a Catholic who particularly likes to pray the Rosary or recite devotionals. That isn’t how I connect with God. I like quiet. Some people call this a “contemplative spirituality.” For most of my life, this has been a “secret” of mine, as I haven’t found many people with this kind of spirituality. Because of this, and I’m sure many other things, I often feel like my perspective isn’t valued.
But during the second time I attended an Unbound conference, I was being prayed over by the team and one of the women praying spontaneously said to me, “God hears you.” I began weeping. That this woman didn’t know who I was but was guided by the Holy Spirit to touch upon a deeply personal wound was incredibly moving.
I have written about my relationship with my father. The third time I attended a conference, I experienced a healing experience surrounding a wound caused by my father. And to be honest, this healing was for something that happened that I had not even thought about much before.
The ministry has led me to ask the Holy Spirit to help me forgive my parents for their shortcomings and see them as children of the Father. It didn’t happen overnight, but it has helped me let go and heal from the resentment that I held toward them. My parents, despite their flaws, did the best that they knew how to do. This experience has led me to believe more strongly in the authority of Jesus over the devil. Unbound teaches us to pray by leading with Jesus’s name.
What I really want to convey is that I have experienced healing from Jesus during these conferences that I didn’t even know I needed. And not just these healings but the revelations of hidden wounds have helped fortify my faith in Jesus. They have helped make the following insight from the Gospel (Luke 12:7) all the more real to me: “even the hairs of your head have all been counted.”
Why Not Give Heart of the Father Ministries a Try?
If anything I’ve written about sounds interesting, I would suggest buying the Unbound book as a start! Working the Twelve Steps is great preparation for participating in Heart of the Father Ministries since the examination we do working the Steps is very helpful for the purposes of deeper healing.
Once you have read through the book and have prayed about it, I suggest going on their website to see if they are hosting a healing conference near you that you can attend. Perhaps, there is even someone in your parish community or 12-step group who has an interest in joining you as well!
Quarter Joe is a lifelong Catholic and has been in recovery for pornography addiction for nearly three years. He is passionate about the spiritual path of the 12-step model and the power of Jesus in the Eucharist in bringing healing and transformation.