By Paul Hughes, OMI
It would be for me unpardonable to let this year dedicated to the Patron of the universal Church slip silently by without calling attention to the most remarkable characteristic of this illustrious saint JOSEPH WAS A DREAMER. He saw dreams as a normal, natural way in which God 24/7 can and desires to communicate with us his beloved creatures. As one commentator mentioned, in this super active world, maybe in our ‘dreamland hours is the only time when all the defensives are down, God can butt in and talk with us.
Joseph was far from the odd man out in confiding in dreams as part of the divine plan of salvation. Bountiful references in both Old and New Testament give credence to this reality. Joseph of Egypt fame and Daniel as court dream interpreters played a vital role in salvation history. Latter Peter and Paul’s dream call to evangelize the gentiles can not be underestimated. If Joseph had not taken seriously his 3 calls, to take Mary as his wife, to flee to Egypt, and to return safely to Nazareth, how differently the Incarnation narrative would have been realized in God’s salvific plan.
Furthermore, for five hundred years the early Church Fathers as Augustine, Clement, Irenaeus as wells as innumerable desert monastics viewed dreams as an integral part of pastoral and spiritual development. Yet with the onslaught of a more rational and logical way of thinking and acting, the doorway to a more symbolic and metaphorical dreamlike way of communicating was rapidly being shut. With Rene Descartes, infamous, COGITO ERGO SUM, elevating the five senses and mental activity to exclusive heights, the door was finally slammed tight relegating dreams to the level of childish fantasies and mental disturbances.
Yet is seems that Joseph, Patron of the Church is revealing another Ace up his carpenter’s cloak sleeve. With Vatican II’s push to a return to more biblical roots, plus the integration of sound psychological insights of Jungian investigation, contemplative spirituality, etc., a new openness to dreams as a healthy spiritual practice is recovering lost ground. It is undisputable that we all dream. (p.s. if you do not your dead!) Yet maybe to offer some pointers on how to remember these dream experiences is needed. 1/ As San Jose, take your dreams seriously though not all will be life changing or earth shattering. 2/ Record your dreams as soon as possible. 3/ Call attention to words associations, repetitions. 4/Engage in dialogue with dream images as would actors in a play.5/ Share your dreams with other competent people, realizing that only you can say, yes!… that is the true meaning for me.6/ Avoid anything in a dream calling you to hurt yourself or other. Dreams are ways of receiving encouragement, what to avoid, a gentle push to look at those dark or shadow areas often avoided, or simply to experience God’s love for us.
Perhaps as we enter a Post Covid 19 world, St. Joseph is calling us, and challenging us to simply WAKE UP AND DREAM…the Church more than ever needs “dreamers”.
ST. JOSEPH, PATRON OF DREAMERS, PRAY FOR US !