Family Issues? Don’t Let It Ruin Your Holidays (Here’s How!)

by Advent and Christmas, December, Family

A common complaint I hear around this time of year is that people are struggling with family members. Old grudges are present, new additions may not be accepted, some family members may choose not to be present, and tensions can be at an all-time high. 

When these struggles are present, they can take away from the entire holiday spirit of generosity, hospitality, and focus on Christ. They can also leave us with deep wounds and feelings of rejection and failure. The impact is often felt on our mental health and spiritual lives as well. 

The difficult part for me as a counselor is that there is never a simple answer to these issues. The only thing we can do is continue to do our best to love others despite the differences that arise between us. Sometimes that means continuing to welcome those family members that are challenging or do things that we do not agree with.  At times it means setting healthy boundaries and laying some ground rules for the upcoming event such as refraining from discussing political topics, using the event as an opportunity to confront someone, or gossiping about other family members. 

Try your best not to let family struggles keep you from focusing on the significance and meaning of the holiday. Also, remember that you are not the only family with these issues. As with most of these things, people do not often talk about them and we can feel like we are the only family that struggles. As we approach the holidays, consider praying and discerning how to best handle potential familial struggles, and remember that my door is always open to discuss these issues and brainstorm potential solutions. 

This reflection originally appeared HERE.

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Resources To Help Heal Family Relationships

Behold: A Guided Advent Journal for Prayer and Meditation

The days leading to Christmas are a time to spend with loved ones and share the joys of the birth of our Savior. However, this season can be bittersweet when it reminds us of strained relationships or loss of connection.

Advent is an important time to consider the restoration of the family. We see within our family lines the traces of the rupture of Adam and Eve, such as factions, divisions, loss, and sin. We long for our families to bear the marks of the Holy Family: love, fidelity, joy, truth, safety, belonging, rest, and peace. These longings are beautiful, but how can we make them a reality?

Order HERE.

We know well that every family on occasion suffers moments when one family member offends another. Through our words, actions, or omissions, instead of expressing love for our spouse or children, we can sometimes diminish or demean that love. Hiding these hurts only deepens such wounds, leading to anger and friction between loved ones...Let us ask the Lord for a strong faith to see with his eyes the reality of family life, and for a deep love to approach all families with his merciful heart.

Pope Francis

A Prayer For Family Healing

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, behaviour 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 even 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. Amen. 

Fr. John Hampsch
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