A modern dictionary of Catholic terms, both common and obscure. Find accurate definitions of words and phrases.
The personal or professional analysis or night (sleep) dreams, to ascertain their meaning. Night dreams are dreams in the proper sense of the term. In sleep, which is by no means a passive state, a person's sense of activity is not dominated by his higher faculties of reason and will. This sense activity, when natural, is due to a variety of traceable causes, such as the physical condition of the body, external stimuli, such as talking or the ringing of a bell, or psychical factors, such as desires, fears, past thoughts and experiences. Consequently there is some value in dream interpretation, in as much as human science may derive from dream analysis some useful data for the treatment and healing of sick individuals, especially those afflicted with some psychological abnormality or disease. If such therapy is indicated, the person should seek out a thoroughly reputable and honest therapist, who will not advise or do anything that is contrary to Christian moral teaching.
On the other hand, to believe in one's own dreams or those related by others as foretelling future events is a sin of superstition. The exceptional cases where dreams are of supernatural origin are to be judged on their own merits.
All evidence from Scripture and the lives of the saints indicates that when God makes use of dreams as an extraordinary means of communication he also makes sure the person realizes where the dream originated. The standard rules for discernment of spirits are to be applied in case of doubt whether a dream is of supernatural origin.
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.