Ask Father: Does God speak to us through dreams?

Dear Father: My mom passed away in April. Recently, I had a dream with my aunt in it. She passed away last year. In the dream, she told me my mom was happy and they were all together. What does the Church teach about our loved ones visiting us in our dreams?

Dear friend in Christ,

First, our condolences on the losses you have experienced recently.

God often uses dreams to communicate with human beings. In the Bible, there are many instances of important messages being revealed through dreams. I don’t see a reason why your dream couldn’t also be from God. Ask God about it. See what He says.

God speaking to us in dreams would fall under what the Church calls private revelation. Private revelation is what God communicates to an individual. Private revelation is not necessary for salvation and does not have to be believed by other Catholics.

Public revelation (the teachings of Jesus as interpreted by the Church), on the other hand, is what God has communicated to the entire human race. Public revelation is all that is necessary for salvation and must be believed by Catholics.

Public revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle. Private revelation continues to this day. Some examples of private revelation are Marian apparitions, dreams and the mystical writings of the saints. A Catholic does not have to believe these things, but may do so if it benefits them and they are approved by the Church.

What we want to avoid is imputing excessive meaning onto our dreams or appealing to the occult to interpret them or assuming God is not speaking to us if we don’t get certain dreams. We have everything we need in the Gospels and the teachings of the Church. We would never want to put more value on our dreams (private revelation) than the sacraments, Mass, scriptures, etc. (public revelation).

In short, if your dream brings you closer to Jesus and does not contradict the teachings of the Church, than there is no reason why you cannot accept it as a gift from God.

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