One of my favorite lines from anything is when Mr. Scrooge says to the ghost of Jacob Marley something along the order of, "..for all I know you are just a bit of undigested beef." Mr. Scrooge's whole long night may well have been an undigested bit of beef for all we know. The point is that the ghost, or the beef, did the trick.
Which brings us to today's questions and comments from our readers:
I have a question. I have a friend who has been seriously considering becoming a priest for a long time. He has been influenced in his decision by a number of dreams he's had that seem to be leading him towards the priesthood. Is it possible that these dreams were divinely inspired? or were they just dreams? How can he tell?
He can't tell. We certainly have many examples in the Bible of people who had important messages in their dreams. St. Joseph springs to mind. He paid attention to his dreams enough to get his family out of town when those stupid "wise" men came and spilled the beans to evil King Herod about their mission. Joseph didn't sit around wondering what it all meant. He packed the donkey and the diapers and got out of there.
But...there are two things you should remember about what happens when you dream. I have mentioned the first thing. The dream is almost always about what happened that day. The second is that just about everyone in your dream is you. You become Sybil in your dreams. Some people represent ideas, but most of them are you in disguise. You really have to keep in mind that it's YOUR brain at work--every image, every word, action and thought is you making it all up. Your dreams don't drop from the sky into your head while you sleep. They originate in your head.
The good news about your friend-the-soon-to-be-priest is that his mind is in sync with itself on the whole priesthood thing.
God is talking to him.
Or the pot roast is talking to him.
Thank you for trying to sort out all of these things for us. Would you please talk a little about that other "ball of wax", the recurring dream. I have had some version of the same dream for about 35 years now. You would have thought I'd be over it by now, wouldn't you?
The recurring dream is a situation where your mind has something to tell you and you are just not getting it. Clearly you're not 'over it'.
I used to have a recurring dream that I was standing at the top of an impossibly steep and very long escalator with my arms full, and I had to take that first step without holding the handrail...They stopped when I found myself with 3 children (scared of escaltors) and assorted parcels and someone behind me who was WAITING for me to get on. I turned around and explained my recurring dream, so she laughed and helped me, and I haven't had the dream since.
Along with your fear of escalators and small children. In your dream the escalator was 'impossibly' steep. It isn't anymore.
Many Bibical examples show where God has communicated in our dreams. I used to have a recurring dream one of my children was hurt and needed me, it always ended at the point of whether I could stick with them in the emergency room or not. Then my daughter ripped her foot open in a bicycle accident. I did stay with her in the emergency room, I did hold it together when she needed me. Never had that dream again.
Of course you didn't. Your dream reflected your nagging fear. How's the foot?
I worry a little about people thinking God is communicating with them in their dreams, even though it's a good thing the people in the Bible didn't worry about that. The Church worries about it, too, which is why we are not required to believe the private revelations of anyone. This includes Mary sightings, the promise of the Miraculous Medal and the Scapular and what saints have said about their visits to Hell and people visiting them from Purgatory. The Church only tells us which things are worthy of our veneration. After that, we're on our own.
If you're willing to think that God is talking to you in your dreams, how do you know it's not the devil tricking you? You could end up like those ex-communicated nuns or worse. Whenever I have an interesting dream, I think to myself, "Good job, subconscious mind!"
Then I go have some pot roast.