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A Reader Wonders about Generational Healing

Thursday, June 12, 2014 11:58 PM Comments (29)
Wondering if you know anything and have some insight into the 'generational healing' movement?
This phrase is making its way around a circle of friends and it is new to me. What I am reading on-line gives me pause for concern not to mention one friend talking about 'family curses'. The words of Jesus from John 9 come to mind for me. But I'm the first one to admit that I don't know everything.

I suspect there is something to it, within reason. The interconnectedness of persons is an integral part of our faith, or both original sin and the redemption are nonsense, since both our fallenness and our salvation depend on the choices, merits, and sin of others redounding to us in many complex ways down the ages. Pure individualism is both heretical and quite obviously false to reality. We all suffer wounds and psychic scars from others, particularly via family. I'm not quite sure what is meant by "family curses" in this particular parlance. If it refers to metaphorical curses ("the curse of alcoholism" for instance) then I don't think it's very far-fetched at all to say that family tendencies toward certain sins and ills can run down generations and that the redeeming power of God can enter into such legacies as it enters into the rest of our lives. In my own experience, a family tendency toward gluttony and a real bondage in the department was decisively snapped through the sacrament of anointing. So I know such things are real.

If by curse you mean a literal curse, as in being condemned or accursed by some occult or demonic agency, I don't know much about such matters. I see no particular reason it should be impossible. We do, after all, bless people, so I don't know why it would be impossible to curse them. And I suspect Satan is not choosey if a willing human fool presents himself to him as a vessel of his malice. If, as I suppose, such things do happen, I suppose the impact of that could be felt down generations too. But if such things happen, it must also be true that this, as much as any other injury by the world, the flesh, and the devil can also be healed and redeemed by the power of Christ.

I would be very cautious of loose cannon laypeople running around praying for healing in such areas. Without real theological grounding and pastoral oversight (and even with it) people who engage in spiritual warfare and in ministries like this can easily come unbalanced and start seeing curses and demons everywhere. John 9 is actually instructive here, precisely because Jesus makes very clear that neither the blind man nor his parents had done anything to cause his blindness.  One of the dangers of thinking in terms of generational sins and curses and whatnot is that we can too easily fall into the habit of assuming that all problems are due to parental failures, or hidden curses and so forth. So above all, I would talk to a priest with some knowledge of such business and see what he thinks. I am not a pastor, nor somebody with much in the way of charisms, training, or knowledge in this department.  So take everything I say here with a grain of salt. God bless you!

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About Mark Shea

Mark Shea
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Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.