The Healing of Families: How to Pray Effectively for Those Stubborn Personal and Familial Problems

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FR. Yozefu B Ssemakula, Dec 15, 2011 - Church work with families - 340 pages
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4. Mr. Sullivan confuses the non-existent idea of generational sin (guilt for other’s sin) with generational bondage (influence of the sin of those to whom we are spiritually attached
). He is inconsistent in admitting that many influences of sin remain (Catechism, no. 1264), but that the influence of bondage does not. He fails to recognize that the whole Church prays against the influence of past sins (see point 2.) He fails to acknowledge the strong parallels between the influence of generational bondage and other influences of Original Sin. Like these other influences, generational bondage affects all kinds of family lines, since all kinds of families sin (Romans 3:23); generational bondage can be eliminated in this life, and at any rate does not survive into heaven, just as the influences of Original Sin do not survive into heaven, and can in some cases be eliminated in this life, such as a person healed from the suffering of a specific disease; and like the other effects of Original Sin, bondage "cannot harm those who do not consent" to its influence. He is unaware of Church teaching on the lingering consequences of sin, specifically that “reconciliation with God … implies an arduous process which … continues after the sacramental [Reconciliation] celebration. The person must be gradually ‘healed’ of the negative effects which sin has caused in him (what the theological tradition calls the ‘punishments’ and ‘remains’ of sin)” [St. John Paul II General Audience on Indulgences on September 29, 1999, no. 2]. In consequence of the lingering nature of these effects, and because the hereditary aspect of our bodies reveals the hereditary aspect of our spirits, the lingering effects of an individual’s confessed sins can be inherited by later generations, but not the guilt. (See case studies in other generational healing books.)
5. Mr. Sullivan refuses to acknowledge scriptural precedents for praying wrongly in James 4:3 and Luke 13:11. And in Job 42:8, we see God insisting that Job pray for his companions instead of allowing them to pray for themselves, specifically because they regard God incorrectly. And so, even a prayer of trust can be wrong prayer if it desires outcomes that contradict God’s will, precisely because it indulges human passions.
6. Mr. Sullivan objects to Father Joseph’s phrase “He [Jesus] did not come to die, but to save”, and commits what is perhaps the most serious of his misrepresentations. He falsely accuses Father Joseph of portraying Jesus’ death as an “unintended outcome” (Mr. Sullivan’s words), when Father clearly says – twice – “He had to go through that/it”, as well as “That suffering was necessary” (page 41 of the book). To state the obvious, if Father says twice that Jesus had to go through with His death, and that this suffering was necessary, then he can’t be saying that the suffering and death are an “unintended outcome”. As with his use of Scripture and the Catechism, Mr. Sullivan picks and chooses small parts of what was said, and ends up reversing the meaning in many cases.
7. In comments elsewhere, Mr. Sullivan incorrectly portrays the HOF book as being about faith and morals, when it clearly deals with a healing prayer method which one is free to take or leave. It is a great misfortune for Mr. Sullivan, and the second most serious of his misrepresentations, that he used this dubious tactic with a Cardinal. Let’s put it more truthfully: the Cardinal has been manipulated into condemning something, and while he applied the right standards, he has of course been misinformed by Mr. Sullivan.

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While we do not question Mr. Bruce Sullivan’s love of the Catholic faith - the author of the nearby negative review - the fact remains that his objections against “The Healing of Families” (HOF) book contain substantial misunderstandings by which people are misled. We will address these in outline form, and post a link for more in depth reading.
1. Mr. Sullivan avoids the elephant in the room: numerous authentic healings occur by HOF. The most frequent response to these healings is a strong increase in love of God and participation in the spiritual life of the Church, which unambiguously marks them as from God. Mr. Sullivan ignores the healing Jesus of Scripture Who authorized us to heal in His Name (Mark 16:17-18), and so severely truncates his Catechism quotes – that is, discussing only those lines that fit his narrative - that a minimization of healing is evident which projects a meaning that falls far short of the full Catechism texts. Perhaps this results from a personal crisis of faith, which can be inferred from his comment (which appears to include himself) about “those who--taking Fr. Yozefu at his word--experience disillusion, anxiety, frustration, and--what can actually be said to border on--devastation when they fail to see the results he so confidently promises to deliver”. Owing to our familiarity with those who did wait on the Lord and did receive healing, we counsel “…let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord” (Psalm 31:24). Recall that Jesus addressed the paralytic’s sins before healing occurred (Matthew 9:2-8), and that Jesus teaches about healing which must go through repentance (Matthew 13:15), and that HOF is about healing through repentance. Jesus can heal instantly, but healing that has to go through repentance can take time. HOF speaks confidently about the prospects for healing based on experience, but repentance must occur first.
2. Mr. Sullivan claims that generational HOF prayer is unknown to Sacred Tradition, as if that tradition is fixed. He disregards that Sacred Tradition has constantly expanded in the history of the Church, and that no document exists stating when Tradition was fixed. He also ignores that generational healing prayer is nearly 3 decades old, that the whole Church prays this kind of prayer (e.g., no. 34 of Tertio Millenio Adveniente and Saint John Paul’s Day of Pardon in 2000), that this prayer is under Church study, discernment and pastoral oversight (NOT condemnation), and that a number of Bishops both promote this type of prayer, and include it in the official prayers of their diocese.
3. Mr. Sullivan incorrectly implies that there are no errors of human misunderstanding about God’s punishment in the Old Testament. Yet try to reconcile the punishment of children for their fathers’ sin in Exodus 20:5 (NAB) with God’s forceful rejection of that notion in Jeremiah 31:29-30 and Ezekiel 18, especially vv. 2-3 and 19-20. These misunderstandings are precisely why Jesus says “no one knows … who the Father is” (Luke 10:22). Jesus invalidates the Jewish idea of God punishing sinners through life’s bad consequences in two stories – about the victims of Pilate and of the fallen Siloam tower -- by saying that they did not suffer this outcome by being “worse sinners” (Luke 13). Mr. Sullivan misses the teaching of the Church that “The punishments of sin … must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin” (Catechism, no. 1472), which definitively rules out even the fatherly correction Mr. Sullivan invokes. Temporal punishments are outcomes that arise directly from sin, but not from God.

About the author (2011)

Fr. Yozefu - Balikuddembe Ssemakula (Fr.Joseph) was born in 1964, and ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 1993 in Kampala, Uganda. After a few years of service in his home country, he was part of a grand First Evangelization effort in Darfur, Sudan, for ten years. He is currently serving in the Diocese of Pensacola in Tallahassee, Florida, and is a graduate student of psychology at Notre Dame University, Indiana, USA.

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