Life-Giving Wounds: A Healing Retreat for Adult Children of Divorced and Separated Parents is being offered at St. Francis Centre in Caledon from September 29 to October 1. For information and to register, please visit The Saint Monica Institute website.
We recently had the opportunity to ask retreat coordinator Dr. Maria Wolfs about the retreat and what people might expect from the experience.
1. The impact of divorce or separation of one's parents tends to be very long-lasting. What are some of the biggest challenges – or wounds – that need to be addressed for adult children of divorce or separation?
The wounds of divorce are manifold and different for each person but some common wounds that we bring to Christ at the retreat include 1. The Wound of Silence - which makes it hard to acknowledge the pain we have and currently experience and the feelings of shame that accompany the pain; 2. The Wound on our Identity - what does it mean to be a child of God, a wound caused in part by the loss of childhood, rest and play that many children of divorce experience; 3. The Wound of Distrust towards dependance and receptivity with God and others and that it's even possible to trust another person; 4. The Wound of Fear - a damaged vision of love that can lead to unhealthy relationships and patterns in dating; 5. The Wound of Anger and Anxiety - common emotions after our parents' divorce; 6. The Wound of Unforgiveness - difficulty with forgiveness and understanding Divine Mercy.
2. It is hard to fathom the concept of having life-giving wounds. How will attending a retreat like this help participants recognize the life-giving aspects of the wounds they’ve endured?
Christianity offers a unique understanding of suffering as redemptive. This means that we are called to unite our suffering to Christ's redemptive act on the Cross and acknowledges the power of God's love to bring not only good out of suffering by an even greater good than the original evil that was inflicted (Romans 8:28). Scripture tells us that "by His wounds you have been healed" (1 Pt 2:24). Christ has the ability to transform our wounds into wellsprings through the grace of Sacraments (especially Baptism, Reconciliation and Eucharist) and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Through the talks, reflections and small group sessions of the retreat, participants are invited to unite their sufferings with those of our Lord so that we can receive His promise of life and mercy.
3. Why is it important for adult children of divorce or separation to focus on moving past the broken image of love that they witnessed in their parents’ relationship?
Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly" (Jn 10:10). When we carry our wounds from our parent's divorce it affects our self-identity, our relationship with God and the Church and our intimate relationships. Jesus does not want us to live in our broken and bound state - he wants us to life in freedom, in the fullness of life the comes from His healing love. He wants us to know ourselves as beloved children of the Heavenly Father and of the perfect marriage of Christ and His Church and to be able to give ourselves fully and freely in love to others. He desires that we live in the freedom of the children of God, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free" (Gal 5:1).
Maria Wolfs is an endocrinologist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto. She became involved in Life Giving Wounds after attending a life-changing LGW retreat and is excited to promote the first international chapter of LGW and the upcoming retreat in Toronto.
For a recent video interview with Dr. Wolfs, check out Midday Moms on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/sSAkoHU8FtU?si=qpq9pdnJVWDQ3NLw