Posted on  by Mark

WE are now crossing the halfway point of our retreat. God is not finished, there is more work to do. The Divine Surgeon is beginning to reach the deepest places of our woundedness, not to trouble and disturb us, but to heal us. It can be painful to face these memories. This is the moment of perseverance; this is the moment of walking by faith and not sight, trusting in the process that the Holy Spirit has begun in your heart. Standing beside you is the Blessed Mother and your brothers and sisters, the Saints, all interceding for you. They are closer to you now than they were in this life, because they are fully united to the Holy Trinity in eternity, who dwells within you by virtue of your Baptism.

Yet, you may feel alone, even abandoned as you struggle to answer questions or to hear the Lord speaking to you. But as the Psalmist says, “Where can I go from your Spirit? From your presence, where can I flee?”[1] Jesus promised: “I am with you always, until the end of the age.”[2]

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before Him, He endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken His seat at the right of the throne of God. (Heb 12″1-2)

For the sake of the joy that God has in store for you, it is necessary to bring our sinfulness and wounds to the Cross. And so, invite the Holy Spirit again to come and strengthen you in this moment, and to persevere:

Come Holy Spirit and fill my vulnerable heart. I trust in Your love for me. I trust in Your presence and help in my weakness. I open my heart to You. I hand over to You my pain. I surrender myself to You because I cannot fix myself. Reveal to me my deepest wounds, especially those in my family, that there may be peace and reconciliation. Restore the joy of Your salvation and renew a right spirit within me. Come Holy Spirit, wash and free me from unhealthy bonds and set me free as your new creation.

Lord Jesus, I come before the foot of Your Cross and unite my wounds to Yours, for “by Your wounds we are healed.” I thank you for your pierced Sacred Heart, overflowing right now with love, mercy and healing for me and my family. I open my heart to receive this healing. Jesus, I trust in You. 

Now, pray from the heart with the following song…

Fix My Eyes

Fix my eyes on You, Fix my eyes on You
Fix my eyes on You (repeat)
I love You

Lead me to Your Heart, perfect my faith in You
Show me the Way
The Way to your Heart, I put my faith in You
I fix eyes on You

Fix my eyes on You, Fix my eyes on You
Fix my eyes on You
I love You

Lead me to Your Heart, perfect my faith in You
Show me the Way
The Way to your Heart, I put my faith in You
I fix eyes on You

Fix my eyes on You, Fix my eyes on You
Fix my eyes on You (repeat)
I love You, I love You

—Mark Mallett, from Deliver Me From Me, 1999©

Family and Our Deepest Wounds

It is through the family and especially our parents that we learn to bond with others, to trust, to grow in confidence, and above all, to form our relationship with God.

But if the bonding with our parents is hampered or even absent, it can affect not only our image of ourselves but of the Heavenly Father. It’s really amazing — and sobering — how much parents impact their children, for better or worse. The father-mother-child relationship, after all, is meant to be a visible reflection of the Holy Trinity.

Even in the womb, rejection can be perceived by our infant spirit. If a mother rejects the life growing within her, and especially if that continues after birth; if she was unable to mentally or physically be present; if she didn’t respond to our cries for hunger, love, or to comfort us when we felt the injustice of our siblings, this broken bond can leave one insecure, searching for the love, acceptance and security that should be first learned from our mothers.

Same with an absent father, or two working parents. This interference of our bonding with them can leave us later in life with doubts about God’s love and presence to us and create an inability to bond with Him. Sometimes we end up looking for that unconditional love elsewhere. It’s notable in a Denmark study that those who formed homosexual tendencies frequently came from homes with unstable or absent parents.[3]

Later in life, having failed to make healthy emotional bonds in our childhood, we can shut down, close our hearts, build a wall, and prevent anyone from entering. We can make vows to ourselves such as “I will never let anyone in again,” “I will never let myself be vulnerable, “No one will ever hurt me again,” etc. And of course, these will apply to God too. Or we can try to assuage the voids in our hearts or our inabilities to bond or feel dignified by medicating them with material things, alcohol, drugs, empty encounters, or co-dependent relationships. In other words, “looking for love in all the wrong places.” Or we will try to find purpose and meaning through achievements, status, success, wealth, etc. — that false identity we spoke of yesterday.

The Father

But how does God the Father love us?

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and rich in mercy. He will not always find fault; nor persist in his wrath forever. He does not treat us according to our faults… As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our sins from us… He knows of what we are made; he remembers that we are dust. (cf. Psalm 103: 8-14)

Is this your image of God? If not, we may be struggling with a “father wound.”

If our fathers were emotionally distant, lacking compassion, or spent little time with us, then we can often project this on God, thus feeling everything depends on us in life. Or if they were demanding and harsh, quick to anger and critical, expecting nothing less than perfection, then we may grow up feeling that God the Father is unforgiving of any mistakes and weakness, and ready to treat us according to our faults — a God to be feared rather than loved. We may develop an inferiority complex, lack confidence, feel afraid to take risks. Or if nothing you did was ever good enough for your parents, or they showed more favor to a sibling, or they even mocked or ridiculed your gifts and efforts, then we can grow up deeply insecure, feeling ugly, unwanted, and struggle to make new bonds and friendships.

Again, these kinds of wounds can overflow into projections on God. The Sacrament of Reconciliation, rather than being a new beginning, becomes a relief valve to divert divine punishment — until we sin again. But that mindset doesn’t line up with Psalm 103, does it?

God is the best of Fathers. He is a perfect father. He loves you unconditionally, as you are.

From Hurt to Healing

I remember at one parish mission years ago when I was praying with people for healing, a woman in her late thirties approached me. With pain in her face, she said her father had abused her when she was a little girl and that she was deeply angry and couldn’t forgive him. Immediately, I had an image come to mind. I said to her, “Imagine a little baby boy sleeping in a crib. See the little curls in his hair, his tiny clenched fists as he sleeps so peacefully. That was your dad… but one day, someone hurt that baby, too, and he repeated the same thing to you. Can you forgive him?” She burst into tears, then I burst into tears. We embraced, and she let out decades of pain as I led her through prayers of forgiveness.

This is not to mitigate the decisions that our parents made or to pretend that aren’t responsible for their decisions. They are. But as already said, “Hurting people hurt people.” As parents, we often parent the way we were parented. In fact, the dysfunction can be generational. Exorcist Msgr. Stephen Rossetti writes:

It is true that baptism does cleanse the person from the stain of Original Sin. However, it does not wipe out all its effects. For example, suffering and death remain in our world because of Original Sin, despite the power of baptism. Others teach that we are not culpable for the sins of past generations. This is true. But the effects of their sins can and do affect us. For example, if my parents were both drug addicts, I am not responsible for their sins. But the negative effects of growing up in a drug addicted household would certainly affect me. — “Exorcist Diary #233: Generational Curses?”, March 27, 2023;

So here is the Good News: Jesus can heal all of these wounds. It is not a matter of finding someone to blame for our deficiencies, like our parents, nor of being a victim. It’s simply recognizing how neglect, a lack of unconditional love, feeling unsafe, criticized, unnoticed, etc. has hurt us and our ability to mature emotionally and bond healthily. These are wounds that need to be healed if we haven’t faced them. They could be affecting you right now in terms of your marriage and family life and your ability to love and bond with your own spouse or children, or form and keep healthy relationships

But we may have also wounded others, including our own children, spouse, etc. Where we have, we may also need to ask forgiveness.

Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matt 5:21-23)

It may not always be prudent or even possible to ask forgiveness from another, especially if you have lost touch or they have passed on. Just tell the Holy Spirit that you are sorry for the harm you have caused and to provide an opportunity for reconciliation if possible, and make reparation (penance) through confession.

What is crucial in this Healing Retreat is that you bring all these wounds of your heart into the light so that Jesus may cleanse them in His Most Precious Blood.

If we walk in the light as He is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of His Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 5:7)

Jesus has come “to bring glad tidings to the poor… to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free… to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit…” (Luke 4:18, Isaiah 61:3). Do believe Him? Do you want this?

Then in your journal…

• Write down the good memories of your childhood, whatever they may be. Thank God for these precious memories and moments.
• Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any memories that need healing. Bring your parents and your whole family before Jesus, and forgive each one of them for any way they have hurt you, let you down, or failed to love you as needed.
• Ask Jesus to forgive you for any way you have not loved, respected, or served your parents and family as you should have. Ask the Lord to bless them and touch them and to bring light and healing between you.
• Repent of any vows that you have made, such as “I will never let anyone close enough to hurt me” or “No one will love me” or “I want to die” or “I will never be healed,” etc. Ask the Holy Spirit to free your heart to love, and be loved.

In closing, imagine yourself standing before the Cross of Christ crucified with all your family, and ask Jesus to let mercy flow upon each member, and to heal your family tree as you pray with this song…

Let Mercy Flow

Standing here, You are my son, my only son
They’ve nailed you into this wood
I’d hold you if I could… 

But Mercy must flow, I must let go
Your love must flow, it must be so

I hold You, lifeless and still
The Father’s Will
Yet these hands — O I know they’ll again
When You’ve risen

And Mercy will flow, I must let go
Your love will flow, it must be so

Here I stand, my Jesus, stretch forth Your hand…
Let Mercy flow, help me let go
Your love must flow, I need you Lord
Let Mercy flow, help me let go
I need You Lord, I need You Lord

—Mark Mallett, Through Her Eyes, 2004©

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↑1Psalm 139:7
↑2Matt 28:20
↑3Study results:• Men who marry homosexually are more likely to have been raised in a family with unstable parental relationships—particularly, absent or unknown fathers or divorced parents.• The rates of same-sex marriage were elevated among women who experienced maternal death during adolescence, women with short duration of parental marriage, and women with long duration of mother-absent cohabitation with father.• Men and women with “unknown fathers” were significantly less likely to marry a person of the opposite sex than were their peers with known fathers.• Men who experienced parental death during childhood or adolescence had significantly lower heterosexual marriage rates than peers whose parents were both alive on their 18th birthday. • The shorter the duration of parental marriage, the higher was the likelihood of homosexual marriage.• Men whose parents divorced before their 6th birthday were 39% more likely to marry homosexually than peers from intact parental marriages.Reference: “Childhood Family Correlates of Heterosexual and Homosexual Marriages: A National Cohort Study of Two Million Danes,” by Morten Frisch and Anders Hviid; Archives of Sexual Behavior, Oct 13, 2006. To view the full findings, go to:

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