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  A Christian Faith Magazine July 2003, Volume 8, Issue 12  
Rev. Mark Connolly
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Woman Asleep

I would like to share a few thoughts with you on a word that you never read in this magazine before. It is the one word dreams. All of you have heard many theories about dreams from the past. I would like to share these ideas from a clinical and psychological point of view. Let me go back.

Many years ago I studied at the famous Jung Clinic in Zurich, Switzerland, founded by Carl Jung and operated by his daughter, Frau Baumann. Everybody in the clinic knew that Carl Jung was a great dream analyst. He analyzed over 50,000 dreams. Anyone here can say, how do dreams affect my daily life? What have they got to do with my Catholic faith?

If you go back into the history of the Old and New Testaments, you will find that dreams played a very definite part in both the Old and New Testaments. If you read the story of how Joseph was sold by his brothers in the Old Testament, you might recall that Joseph had a dream about them that indicated to him that he and his brothers would one day be reunited. If you come into the New Testament you will find example after example of how dreams played a role in the life of Christianity. For example, the wise men after they had found the Christ child were told in a dream not to go back to King Herod because he was to attempt the killing of the Christ child. So they returned home by a different route. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, was told in a dream of Herod's plan to kill Christ. You might recall that Pontius Pilot's wife had a dream about Christ and told her husband, Pilot, not to have anything to do with Christ because she had a serious dream about him.

If you come further into the New Testament, you will find that St. Paul was influenced by the power of a personal dream. St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Joan of Arc, all achieved greatness for Christ and for his Church because of their dreams. Shakespeare in MacBeth and Hamlet told of the power of dreams over and over again.

You say, well how does this relate to practical every day living? A dream is a nugget of knowledge. A dream, properly interpreted, is a source of information that you can get in no other way. At times it is more complete than anything you get from your intuition, intellect and emotions. It is a most powerful source of information. For example, history has been changed by the course of one man following his dream in our 20th century. It is a story of European history. This man was a trench soldier during the First World War. One night while he was sleeping in his trench he had a dream that a mortar shell was to hit the trench where he and his comrades were hiding. He awakened from his dream and went about 500 feet from where his comrades stayed. A mortar shell then hit the trench and all but one man was killed. That is the man who escaped. His name was Adolf Hitler.

If you look at it from a clinical point of view, a dream is specifically a voice from your unconscious. It is an utterance from the unconscious part of your personality. Dreams properly interpreted can help us approach different problems of life from a different vantage point. Oftentimes, the knowledge we obtain from dreams is deeper than the knowledge we get in books, lectures and classes. Your intuition is a powerful part of your imagination. But your dreams are a source of knowledge, more powerful than any faculty of the mind.

I think everyone of us has heard in the last ten or fifteen years the expression by the great writer Dr. Joseph Campbell, "follow your bliss." When you read his works quite closely, follow your bliss is very close to the expression, follow your dreams. For there is no question about it, you do not want to follow dreams that are not connected with deep rooted knowledge. Dreams are not just some occasional flight of fancy you cling to. Dreams become imbedded in your personality over the course of one's life.


Recently, I heard a story of a young man who in a denigrating way was called a daydreamer. In high school he was a great track runner. One of his dreams, as he continued to practice, was to break the four minute mile. This is something that happened within the last fifty years. Every coach, every trainer, told him he did not have the ability, as good as he was, did not have the body, as strong as he was, and did not have the energy that was needed. Every coach he had told him from the standpoint of history that no one could ever run the four minute mile. This young man practiced and practiced and dreamt and dreamt until one day while running he ran the mile under four minutes. His name is Roger Bannister. Ever since then, over 336 runners have broken the record of the four minute mile. Isn't it amazing when you think of all the people who say no, this cannot be done, and then someone comes along and proves that the very thing you say cannot be done is done? When you think today there are so many men and women out of work. I know this sounds impractical, but have you ever thought that some of the knowledge they obtained from dreams might give them insight as to what kind of future employment they can develop? All of civilization has been influenced by dreams from the time of Plato, the time of Socrates, from the time of Christ, from the time of Buddha. Carl Jung used to say a dream is a nugget of knowledge.

A dream is a gateway to the unconscious part of your personality. A dream can be a religious experience. A dream is that power that enables us to keep a balance between sanity and insanity. A dream that is cherished as being spiritual, a dream that is looked upon as an introduction to truth, is not only a form of sanity, it is also God and his grace working to bring us greater sanctity.

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