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Marie wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am an adoptive teen girl in high school. (I don't want to say much more than that for privacy reasons.)

I go to church with my grandparents, who are Catholic. I plan on joining RCIA classes next fall but still have questions about a lot of things.

I ask a lot of questions so I hope this is not inconvenient. Here it goes.

  • What are Catholic views on dreaming?
  • Is science real, in terms of religion?
  • Do dreams mean anything?
  • In terms of the Catholic faith, can you apply psychology to your dreams?

I had a dream last night, well several actually. The first one involved tornadoes. I just remember several tornadoes in my dream. In the second one, I kissed a guy that I know.

  • Is it a sin to dream of kissing?

I can't exactly control my dreams.

  • Is there a way to interpret these dreams, according to the Catholic faith?

I am semi-friends with the guy I kissed in my dream. I have first hour with him and we are friends but I don't know him all that well. I have never really thought about him like that. I wasn't thinking about him before I went to sleep so I don't know why I dreamed about him.

  • Is there such things as ghosts?

I feel scared to live in my own house which is actually my parents house. My adoptive dad bought the house from a church friend of his parents, (my grandparents). I asked my grandma if anything happened in the house and she said, No. I feel like there is someone or something in the house that shouldn't be there but there is no one else in the house other than my parents, pets, and me.

  • Am I just imagining things?

My grandma says I have a very active imagination because I read a lot.

Oh, that friend that I mentioned earlier, the one I kissed, he is Mormon. I was baptized in a Mormon church back when I was 8 years old. I was in foster care at the time but am 16 years old now. I was adopted when I was 10 years old.

My grandma says there are angels and demons.

  • Are they around us all the time?

I have a cross in my room as well as a picture of Mary an a little statue of Mary.

  • Am I protected?

My adoptives went through a divorce and I have a new adoptive mom.

  • What does Catholic faith say about divorce?
  • Back in the days of Jesus, at what age did girls get married?

Sorry for the amount of questions.

Marie

  { Can you answer some questions from a 16-year-old planning to take RCIA classes? }

Bob replied:

Marie,

It is so good to hear from you — you have come to the right place for many of your questions but some things will still remain a mystery anyway — that keeps our imagination going.

By the way, I have an adopted daughter, who is bit older than you at 22; she was our foster child when she came to us at eight years old (we adopted at age 11.) Anyway, let's get to your questions.

Science. There is no problem with science, which has helped us understand the universe we live in immensely. There is a problem with certain persons, however, that attempt to use science to disprove God or things that they have no right to. Sadly, people take good things and abuse them and sometimes science falls into this category. For some, science is even a type of religion, which it should not be. The questions having to do with why we are here or the purpose of our lives is the duty of religion to explain, not science.

Dreams. You can analyze dreams with psychology most of the time and they form a canvas on which the drawing of our subconscious is written. God does however, use dreams on occasion to communicate to us, as He did with many famous figures in the Bible, especially Joseph the foster father of Jesus. When I went through my conversion as an adult, deciding that I really wanted to live my faith as a Catholic, I had some very significant dreams in which I felt God speaking to me.

From that time I kept a dream journal, sometimes logging ten pages of notes on a single series of dreams and then would sit down and try to figure out what it meant. Most of the time I relied on the psychology I had in college courses and archetypal symbolism but mostly I just asked,

"If God wants me to get something from this, what is it?"

I don't know your situation well enough but I would say try interpreting each of the characters in your dream as really just a certain part of yourself. The young man you mentioned may represent something entirely different than himself but a quality your subconscious associates with him, i.e., intelligence, courage, etc.

The tornadoes are a powerful symbol of upheaval in your life — maybe the divorce or something else, that leaves you vulnerable and a bit scared. Dreams are often just a mirror of your inner life.

The good news is that whatever is going on, your journey in faith will lead you closer to the God who loves you and will safely get you through all the storms of life to His ultimate place for you in Heaven. I would often have turbulent dreams when going through some kind of crisis but I also had dreams where God would reveal to me things that comforted my soul and gave me hope.

My suggestion is try a journal and make it a prayer between you and God to see if He has something for you to learn. Lastly, don't make dreams too much of a predictor of future things. While dreams can be prophetic, some folks treat them almost like horoscopes or tarot cards and put too much stake in them. Keep yours in balance and let God be the center of your understanding.

P.S. Kissing in a dream is not a sin, or anything that happens in dream, although we can wake feeling guilty. The dream may simply be showing you the desire to be kissed, which is understandable for a girl your age, but hold on until God shows you the right way and time to find a mate which, as a dad, I would suggest is a good ways off.

Ghosts. Yes, there are ghosts but they may not be what you think they are. We simply don't have all the answers to this but we have some basic truths that shape our understanding.

We know that there are spirits, good and bad, we call them Angels and Demons but the presence of human spirits hanging on to some place isn't very likely because Jesus taught us that after death comes judgement and then the soul goes to be with God or away from Him.

If a spirit is lingering in a place it shouldn't be, more than likely it is an enemy of God and therefore not good and not to be trusted anyway.

  • Have houses been infested with demonic spirits? <Absolutely.>

Hollywood has capitalized on this reality but that doesn't mean you have to go running away in fear. Demons usually prey on the weak and those that stay grounded in faith are not easy enough pickings for them. They will leave when good Christians claim ownership of the space in the name of Jesus Christ. Your greatest weapon against any evil spirit is a close relationship to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Jesus' mother. She is most humble of all of God's children . . . so humble that she was chosen to be the mother of the Word: God Himself becoming one of us.

Satan, the leader of all those against God has an ego that is hugely out of control and he can't stand it when He gets his butt kicked by someone so lowly as Mary. It is utter humiliation so he runs. Stay close to Mary, she is the best Mom you could ever be adopted by. Read John's Gospel when Jesus is dying on the Cross (John 19:25-27) and see how He gives her to us to be our mother. Whenever the Gospel refers to the disciple whom Jesus loved, that's you and me!

When he gave Mary to the disciple . . . He gave her to you and me as our adopted mom. If you want to get to know her, pray the Rosary, and just simply talk to her. This is something that the Catholic faith really has that Protestantism lost: a devotion to Mary. She is a gift from God to you; don't lose it. Mary has appeared to children many times in the last century:

  • Fatima
  • Lourdes
  • La Salette
  • Guadalupe

and has told us to keep sacred objects and blessed items with us and near us. Your little statue, Cross, and picture from your grandparents are good to have and will remind you that you are safe and that Jesus and Mary have got your back so don't you worry.

Marriage. God wanted marriage to be for keeps. He never intended for it to break and break people's hearts in the process. How sad that we, as a people, didn't live up to that. Divorce is everywhere and I'm sorry that it has impacted your life too. Catholics don't believe in divorce and remarriage as a right because Jesus said that one who divorces his wife to marry another . . . commits adultery.

Jesus was basically saying God is not in the business of making bonds to have them broken.

  • So what do we do?

When a divorced Catholic seeks to remarry they must get an annulment. This is a declaration that the first marriage was nulled and that, to the best we can tell, God didn't make an unbreakable bond, meaning a covenant with the couple. It may have been an agreement between two persons but it wasn't sacramental; it wasn't formed by God.

The way this declaration is made is through an investigation. A review of the circumstances of the marriage, at the time of the wedding took place, must be done to see if some flaw was present. A flaw could be something that robbed one or both of the persons from making full consent like a shotgun wedding for example. I know it's very complicated and there is more to it but you asked.

Lastly, girls at the time of Jesus, married young, probably in their teens. Life spans were much shorter then and becoming self-sufficient wasn't nearly so complicated. Mary, Jesus' mother, was almost certainly a teenager when she had Jesus, although Joseph, the foster dad, was an older established person capable of providing for his family.

Lastly, I wish you the best on your journey into RCIA. I took extra time with your inquiries because I want you to know that you are important. God really loves you and wants you to grow up with the certainty of His Love.

I hope these words will encourage you to continue on your quest.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

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