Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 28, 2000
God speaks through dreams
Spiritual direction helps people find God's way through dream interpretation
By BYRON PRICE
Special to the WCR
Sister Ita Connery became interested in the meaning of her dreams, and it changed her life.
Today, Connery of the Faithful Companions of Jesus works out of the FCJ Christian Life Centre in Calgary as a spiritual director and facilitator of workshops on dreams.
Connery had a long career teaching chemistry to young people. But in the 1980s, she became a spiritual director. About that time she became interested in dreams - her dreams.
She began reading books about dreams, such as Morton Kelsey's Dreams: A Way to Listen to God, and the Jesuit writer J.E. Cirlot's A Dictionary of Symbols. She also studied at the Carl Jung Institute in Zurich, obtaining a certificate.
"Analyzing dreams is more of an art form than a science," she says. "We are working with the unconscious. There is a great deal of material on the market that can hurt people because it is not based on a firm background in the area of dreams.
"Quality training is needed before one may attempt to assist a person to interpret their dreams."
For Connery, her role as a spiritual director comes first and dreams are only one tool that she uses in this process.
Often, people who come to her wish to have their dreams interpreted. Connery asks them questions to help them come up with their own interpretations. "How do the dreams relate to their lives in the here and now?"
When Connery began her work on dreams in the 1980s, there was a scarcity of material. There was not much Catholic writing on dreams.
She found this peculiar, as the Old Testament and the New Testament are full of examples of God relating to people in dreams. The story of Joseph taking Mary and Jesus into the land of Egypt began with a dream.
St. Jerome was taken up to heaven in a dream and when he returned, he spent the rest of his life translating the Bible from its original text to Latin Vulgate. Thus the translation of the Bible is enjoyed today "because of St. Jerome's love and his dream immersion."
In Connery's opinion, the Catholic Church says little about dreams because it lumps dreams in with New Age materials, fortune telling and Tarot cards.
She believes the Inquisition, Reformation and schisms are all factors in why the Catholic Church does not delve deeply into the dreams. As one author put it, "Dreams are God's forgotten language."
Connery takes dreams seriously and believes they are one of God's ways of communicating with our souls. She tries to make dream interpretation available to those who find dreams an important aspect of their lives.
Connery emphasizes that faith is a gift and that dreams can have a role in spiritual growth. She believes that "We as a people of God crave mystery.
"Vatican II, for all its good points, took away a lot of mystery. People are craving that personal connection to the sacred. People need to hear their souls speak.
"How does a soul communicate? Through dreams, images and waking images - the burning bush, pillar of cloud, desert, etc."
Connery has found that when the soul speaks, peoples' lives are transformed. She says the soul speaks in images, not in words.
We have been deprived of images in our present prayer form, she said. In her healing work with women, she has found that dream images can show them the importance of their relationship with God and the adjustments they must make in their lives to nurture this relationship.
Connery said her main focus is to help herself and others find a way to God. Many people who have lost their way get out the Bible and pray. They have to go back in their lives and figure out when God manifested himself to them.
The symbols of their dreams can help people find their spiritual way. In her work as a spiritual director, Connery has seen people who were lost rediscover meaning in their lives through dream images.
"The soul knows things. The soul knows what is good for you. It knows how you should live," she continues.
"The soul writes between the lines and the one way the Holy Spirit speaks to us is through symbols and images - through dreams."
Other churches are more antagonist towards dream analysis than the Catholic Church, she said. They are especially concerned about what is called "the guide" in a dream leading us through a meadow or into a cave. Some fear that this guide may be evil.
But Connery says Christ has overcome the power of darkness and we have to invite evil into our being for the negative to occur.
Dream interpretation is not for everyone. Connery's ministry is in spiritual direction and she uses the tool of dreams to help people get connected and closer to God to lead whole full lives.
However, many people are doing well and she encourages them to continue because God is working fine in their lives. However, if we repress the soul or ignore, it will stop speaking.
How do we start it speaking again? Connery says we must pay attention to our feeling states, our journey past and present. It seems to be at times of crisis that we start to listen and call forth God from our depths. It is at those times that the unconscious seems to speak to us. God never stops listening to us. His dreams for us are good.