ASK FATHER: Are evil dreams from the Devil?

From a reader…


Both of my parents were fortunate to receive the last rites and the apostolic blessing.  I was filled with peace at their deaths because I had hope they may have been saved.  That peace has been challenged by dreams my sister and I had on the same night recently about our parents.
I have had evil dreams in the past filled with temptations and sinful situations.
In the second dream … […] I woke up at this point.  The same night my sister dreamt about our parents. […]

Is the devil permitted to send us evil dreams so that we give up praying for our parents?

Do not stop praying for your parents.  While it is good, nay rather, excellent that you arranged the Last Rites, whereby we have great confidence about those who go to God, nevertheless remember them in your prayers and have Masses said, as the increasing shortage of priests permits.

Demons can manipulate our dreams. Usually the demonically inspired ones are very graphic, disturbing, have a story arc and leave us unsettled. That’s the point of them.  It’s part of the demonic bag of party tricks meant to distract and get us off track, lead us to fear or to temptation.

Often these irritations through dreams come in reprisal for the good we do – such as arranging parents’ last sacraments.

Since they can come from the Devil we ought not worry about them.  They are empty.  They are unpleasant, to be true, but really only like someone suddenly pointing and shouting, “LOOK!  A SQUIRREL!” while she tries to pick your pocket.  For example, one could have a dream that a Jesuit had been elected as the next Pope.  Surely that’s not prompted by someone nice.  It would be a bad distracting.

Also, the 1st Commandment prohibits us from interpreting dreams.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Jack Hohne says:

    How do we reconcile Joseph of the Old Testament, while it is also a sin to interpret dreams?

  2. redneckpride4ever says:

    Would interpreting a dream be akin to, let’s say, studying the lore of Pachamama to gain a better understanding of fertility? You know, pure idolatry that has no place in the religion God Himself established.

  3. Jack: Joseph of the Old Testament

    The Church teaches this. That should be sufficient. But, if you are “type” who pre-figures Christ in the Old Testament and the son of a Patriarch who has authentic charismatic graces I suppose you get a pass.

  4. Suburbanbanshee says:

    “Te lucis ante terminum” has a verse asking that:

    “Procul recedant somnia
    et noctium phantasmata”

    May dreams and phantasms of the night go far away [from us].

    It’s a good night hymn, and the chant tune is soothing. But you can sing it to any chant tune.

  5. Chuck4247 says:

    Father, could you elaborate on how interpreting dreams is both sinful and particularly how it breaks the first commandment? I’ve not heard that before.

    Does this mean that the portion of psychology which deals with analyzing dreams is inherently sinful? I ask because there was an expert in such a field brought on to a local radio station’s morning show a while back, and it seemed to make sense what they were saying…

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  7. lh says:

    Here’s a prayer from Fr. Ripperger’s book, “Deliverance Prayers” to be prayed before bedtime.

    Punishing Prayer
    Lord Jesus Christ, I ask Thee that from now and until I fall asleep, while I sleep and during my dreams, that if any evil spirit tries to affect me that Thou wouldst punish him by making him focus on the thing that causes the most pain during the entire time he tries to affect me and for ten minutes more. I also ask Thee to not allow him to retaliate.

    (The above prayer may be modified for any form of temptation or
    diabolic attack.)
    Page 34

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