Dear Father John, I have a question and seeking an explanation. If any I’m a recovering addict and have spiritually renewed myself. Gave myself to God and my chains have been broken. Since then I have had two dreams or nightmares (if that’s what you call them) but they were both battling and fighting demons. The first dream I awoke feeling scared and a little confused. The second time I awoke feeling I won a battle. I do intense prayers at night and I feel when I do a little extra prayers praying for someone that is battling demons I have these dreams. I am just trying to understand what they mean. If you can help me understand this I would appreciate it. Thank you.
It’s so encouraging to hear about all that God has done and continues to do in your life! I said a prayer of thanksgiving after reading your question.
Understanding dreams is no easy task. Dreams are connected to the subconscious and the unconscious. These are realms of the human psyche that we really do not comprehend completely or accurately. The study of psychology has opened up some levels of understanding of this phenomenon, but it is certainly not exhaustive. If someone is habitually (over an extended period) having disturbing dreams, and repetitive dreams, this could be an indication of psychological factors at play. In this case, it may be useful to consult with a trustworthy, Christian psychologist. I cannot tell from your question if this is your situation.
Demons and Dreams?
On the other hand, you seem to be concerned that these two dreams could indicate some kind of demonic activity. Certainly, that is possible as well. And if this kind of thing continues to happen, on a habitual basis over an extended period of time, you may want to meet with a trusted priest or spiritual director to discuss it. If you are interested in understanding this aspect of spiritual warfare, I can recommend the conference portion of my Retreat Guide called Invisible Allies: A Retreat Guide on St. Michael and the Angels. You can find the whole Retreat Guide available for free here: http://rcspirituality.org/invisible-allies-a-retreat-guide-on-st-michael-and-the-angels/.
Keeping First Things First
In general, however, I would recommend not paying too much attention to this kind of thing. What happens when we are sleeping is outside of our control. What happens when we are awake is much more important. To this end, I highly recommend continuing to grow in your knowledge of our rich and beautiful Catholic faith, as well as continuing to develop a profound life of prayer, both personal prayer and sacramental prayer. Adding to that a conscious effort to follow Christ’s commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31) is a sure formula for keeping your own spiritual life focused on what is most important. As you do that, you will continue to grow in communion with God and docility to the Holy Spirit. That will be the key to helping you understand, interpret, and respond properly to any extraordinary spiritual phenomena.
When it comes to topics that touch on the demonic, it is easy to give too much attention to extraordinary manifestations. Remember, the devil’s number one desire is to get us to sin. And his number one tactic to make that happen isn’t possession, obsession, oppression, or infestation. Rather, it’s simply mundane, everyday temptation. If you continue to “seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33) during your waking hours, then you will be doing your part to stay on track.
I hope this helps. God bless you! Fr. John Bartunek, LC
Art for this post on “Understanding Dreams”: Modified detail of A perturbed young woman fast asleep with a devil sitting on her chest; symbolizing her nightmare, Jean Pierre Simon, 1810, CCA 4.0 International, Wikimedia Commons.