Heal Your Family Tree With Masses and Suffrages for the Dead
A proper funeral and Requiem Mass allows the dead to rest in peace — and also allows the living to live in peace.
One of the benefits of praying for the dead is that it brings healing and reconciliation to the living.
In recent years this has come to light through a remarkable ministry called “Healing the Family Tree” or “Generational Healing”. This ministry (to my knowledge) was discovered by an English Protestant psychiatrist named Kenneth McCall. Dr. McCall wrote a book called Healing the Family Tree in the 1980s, recording his discoveries that seriously mentally ill people could sometimes have the disturbance in their life traced to an unresolved death or trauma in the family history.
For example, it was revealed in therapy that a man with severe fear of water (aquaphobia) had an uncle who died in a wartime submarine incident. The body was never recovered and the uncle was never mourned properly. Dr. McCall began holding funeral services for the deceased loved one and found that often the suffering living person was healed completely or was gradually healed or got significantly better.
This led Dr. McCall to explore the phenomenon further and he researched other religious traditions’ practices of making sacrifices for the dead on behalf of the living. Of course this led him to the Catholic practice of Requiem Masses, and he realized that the Catholic Church had been saying funeral Masses or Requiem Masses for the repose of the souls of their loved ones as a matter of course from the beginning. He began to quietly use this therapy for patients of every faith and found that much benefit was given.
This book was very influential in the renewal (charismatic) movement in many different denominations, including the Catholic Church. Fr Hampsch — a Claretian priest — wrote a book called Healing Your Family Tree. The term ‘generational healing’ came into use, and this was expanded to include all sorts of other psychic and spiritual problems like ‘family curses’, ‘healing from occult involvement’ and ‘deliverance’, which is a low-level exorcism.
What are the problems with such ministries? One of the obvious problems is a propensity to superstition and a magical view of the Eucharist. Another problem is a tendency towards sensationalism. A third is an inclination towards the ‘victim mentality’ in which the suffering person blames all their problems on their ancestors.
However, abuses should not undo right uses.
The fact remains that we, as Catholics, follow in the ancient tradition of the Church and the Hebrew religion before us, in celebrating the sacrifice of Christ on behalf of our dead. We believe this does them good spiritually, but we often overlook the benefits to the living. A proper funeral and Requiem Mass ritually cuts the bonds between the dead person and the living. It frees the living from the negative bonds that may exist and allows the dead person to rest in peace. It also, if you like, allows the living person to exist in peace.
In my view, the fact that ‘generational healing’ and ‘healing the family tree’ has become a kind of sensational fad, been abused by some or ‘questionable practice’ only indicates that the Church has neglected an important part of her proper ministry. This always happens when part of the fullness of the faith is neglected or denied. The truth springs up elsewhere with a vengeance and often an extreme view emerges, sensible people repudiate it and ‘extremist’ types latch on to it.
If Catholics simply practiced our age-old tradition of having Masses offered for the dead, for years’ anniversaries to be observed and for Requiems to be offered regularly — especially when there has been a traumatic death, an unresolved family trauma or an unresolved death, then the dead would rest in Christ’s peace and the living family members would find resolution of many of their illnesses, mental problems, family ‘curses’ and continued inherited spiritual and psychic diseases.
Masses for our departed loved ones should be a natural part of our life together rather than a stupendous and ‘amazing’ ministry of healing.
Why not use this month of November to continue to pray and offer Masses for you beloved dead? It can’t do anyone any harm, and it is likely to bring about much good that you cannot now imagine.
Prayer for the Dead
Prayer for the DeadGod our Father,
Your power brings us to birth,
Your providence guides our lives,
and by Your command we return to dust.
Lord, those who die still live in Your presence,
their lives change but do not end.
I pray in hope for my family,
relatives and friends,
and for all the dead known to You alone.
In company with Christ,
Who died and now lives,
may they rejoice in Your kingdom,
where all our tears are wiped away.
Unite us together again in one family,
to sing Your praise forever and ever.
Prayer for Healing the Family Tree
Heavenly Father, I come before You as Your child, in great need of Your help. I have physical health needs, emotional needs, spiritual needs, and interpersonal needs. Many of my problems have been caused by my own failures, neglect and sinfulness, for which I humbly beg Your forgiveness, Lord. But I also ask You to forgive the sins of my ancestors whose failures have left their effects on me in the form of unwanted tendencies, behavior patterns and defects in body, mind and spirit. Heal me, Lord, of all these disorders.
With Your help I sincerely forgive everyone, especially living or dead members of my family tree, who have directly offended me or my loved ones in any way, or those whose sins have resulted in our present sufferings and disorders. In the name of Your divine Son Jesus, and in the power of His Holy Spirit, I ask You, Father, to deliver me and my entire family tree from the influence of the evil one. Free all living and dead members of my family tree, including those in adoptive relationships, and those in extended family relationships, from every contaminating form of bondage. By Your loving concern for us, heavenly Father, and by the shed blood of your Precious Son Jesus, I beg You to extend Your blessing to me and all my living and deceased relatives. Heal every negative effect transmitted through all past generations, and prevent such negative effects in future generations of my family tree.
I symbolically place the Cross of Jesus over the head of each person in my family tree, and between each generation; I ask You to let the cleansing blood of Jesus purify the blood lines in my family lineage. Set Your protective angels to encamp around us, and permit Archangel Raphael, the patron of healing, to administer Your divine healing power to all of us, even in areas of genetic disability. Give special power to our family members’ guardian angels to heal, protect, guide and encourage each of us in all our needs. Let Your healing power be released at this very moment and let it continue as long as Your sovereignty permits.
In our family tree, Lord, replace all bondage with a holy bonding in family love. And let there be an ever deeper bonding with You, Lord, by the Holy Spirit, to Your Son Jesus. Let the family of the Holy Trinity pervade our family with its tender, warm, loving presence, so that our family may recognize and manifest that love in all our relationships. All of our unknown needs we include with this petition that we pray in Jesus precious Name.
[ Rev. John H. Hampsch, C.M.F. ]
Prayer for the Dead, from Catholic Online.
Credits and Gratitude to:
National Catholic Register