Archive for the ‘Dreams’ Category

Interview: Tim Bartel – Catholic Writer’s Guild

Friday, February 25th, 2011
Dream of the Great Ship - by Tim Bartel

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“Indeed, ‘interpretation’ can apply whether the story is a dream from God or a parable of Bosco’s invention… He enjoyed creating mystery, which kept people involved and aided them to contemplate holy things, conjecturing what they mean and how best to live out their morals, and simply filled them with wonder. “


The following is an excerpt from the February 2011 Catholic Writer’s Guild interview with Tim Bartel, author of Dream of the Great Ship – Interpretations of Saint John Bosco’s Dream of the Two Columns. The complete interview is available to guild members.

Maria Tim, I’m so glad I ran into you in the CWG Sunday chat! Your book sounds so interesting, but first, tell us, how did you come to CWG, a wild Google search, or did someone lead you to CWG?

Tim I owe my gratitude for the discovery of CWG to our Blessed Mother. I am honored to be part of a group of friends in southern California who several years ago journeyed to Mexico to purchase a hand crafted statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This statue became a pilgrim statue, traveling from home to home with each family daily praying the Holy Rosary for one or two weeks at a time. In this way the Rosary is perpetuated by a growing community joined by common devotion. Thanks to my wife Becca’s planning, my family has had the statue numerous times and thanks to God’s providence, the last visit came from writer and CWG member Connie C., whom I met for the first time and who recommended CWG. I had for a long time been seeking to initiate a sort of Inklings group, a trusted place to creatively brainstorm with other like minded Catholics. I am certainly blessed to have found it in Catholic Writer’s Guild.

Maria Well, we are delighted to have you. Back to your book: Dream of the Great Ship. The book shows the interpretation of one of St. John Bosco’s most revealing dreams. How, or what inspired you to write about such an interesting topic?

Tim Shortly after my conversion to Catholicism about fifteen years ago, when the World Wide Web was experiencing an extraordinary boom, I happened to surf across a post of the dream and upon reading it I immediately saw myself on the great ship of the Church amid storms and sieges, its members defending and battling their way to safety between the steadfast pillars of the Eucharist and Mary. This was precisely the experience I had gone through in conversion as I was confronted on all sides by opposition. So Saint John Bosco’s story struck a chord with me and I began to contemplate the depth of it while on my daily commute home from work. I quickly began to see more than myself in this plot; I began to see Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, the first and second Vatican Councils, wars in Europe, intellectual and philosophical upheaval and much, much more. As my mind began to expand with these new connections my heart began to fill up with gratitude and I felt that writing about it would do me good and perhaps the Lord might make some use of my book for His own purposes.

Maria How long did you have to research to provide the reader with such a complete interpretation?

Tim First let me address this word ‘interpretation’ which you aptly applied from the subtitle of my book, and which sometimes gives people pause. Indeed, ‘interpretation’ can apply whether the story is a dream from God or a parable of Bosco’s invention, and the Saint encouraged students and the priests who were their teachers to explain the stories, often without expressing from which category they sprung. He enjoyed creating mystery, which kept people involved and aided them to contemplate holy things, conjecturing what they mean and how best to live out their morals, and simply filled them with wonder. Instead of interpretation we might just as well call it reflection or contemplation, for the affect of all these on the intellect, the heart and the soul, as I understand and experience it, is equally profitable when the subject under consideration is holy. This is why, during what I like to call the incubation period of book writing, I consider reflection and contemplation a form of research; because it prepares me and helps me to identify areas needing more information and development.

Research for Dream of the Great Ship never seems to end even after the book is in print. I am constantly finding new facts like the one I just posted on my blog ) describing architectural structures that may have inspired Saint John Bosco (aka Don Bosco) to compose this parable. But the hours I put in for research were far more extensive and intensive than I had anticipated. I was expecting maybe a few months of dedicated time but it actually went on for more than a year before the first print. It took another year after that for me to officially put research to rest and to publish a revision. I am always grateful when authors post their sources so that I can read further if the topic interests me and so that I can verify that quotes are given in context when I have questions; so in my own writings I work at stuffing footnotes, bibliographies and parenthetical thoughts full to the brim and overflowing the page at times.

Maria This book is written for those who know Don Bosco, and those who’ve never heard of him. What has been your reception among those who don’t know Don Bosco.

Tim Once while flying on a plane I sat next to a worldly man who made a cursory review of my book and ironically pronounced it pithy. I can only hope that he later gave the book a more serious read. The very fact that Don Bosco came up with these themes before history proved them true ought to legitimize Don Bosco in the eyes of any rational, open minded and fair hearted person. His work with the youth, apart from this dream/parable makes him a champion to those concerned with social justice in Italy regardless of one’s position religiously. Often I find that fellow Catholics who have not heard of Don Bosco are excited to hear his stories. There are some fantastic and inspiring tales associated with Don Bosco, rich enough, deep enough and sensational enough to satisfy demanding contemporary minds. He is said to have multiplied Eucharistic Hosts and breakfast rolls, raised a boy from the dead to save his soul, touched the wall of Hell and returned. He was known to read consciences such that he knew what his students needed to confess; a feat that sometimes compelled boys to shield their heads as he walked by.

Maria I was so intrigued by all the information in your website, your blog entries are very informative. I was truly blown away by the aerial picture of the Piazza di Spagna in Rome showing the visual of the ship between two columns. How did you come about this information?

Tim The Piazza di Spagna is one of those ongoing research items that just fell into place. My discovery of it was a coincidence that I must credit to the Holy Spirit, a God-incidence if you will. I read a Vatican News Service bulletin announcing that on the Solemnity of Immaculate Conception Pope Benedict XVI had continued a tradition of visiting the statue of the Immaculate Conception, which rests atop a column in the Piazza di Spagna. Knowing that the Immaculate Conception was one of Don Bosco’s personal devotions, along with Mary Help of Christians, and seeing that this statue was on a column in public view, I began to search online for information about the piazza. Imagine my surprise when I found that the Church of the Most Holy Trinity, which the article had said the Pope visited just prior to the statue of Mary, turned out to be landmarked by another column topped by a cross. It seemed too much to expect there to be a boat there too but in fact the Fontana della Barcaccia was placed there before the second column. I have been to Rome twice and both times I have missed this conglomeration of architectural inspiration that may very well have provided Saint John Bosco with the essential images to contemplate what we now call the Dream of the Two Columns.

Maria Would you consider yourself a dream expert or a Don Bosco expert? In your opinion why are so many people into dream interpretations, yet when it comes to dreams such as Don Bosco’s so few people even think about it as foretelling?

Tim I am not a dream expert, nor am I an expert on all things Don Bosco, but about this one particular dream or parable of the Two Columns I have done considerable research and reflection. We are fortunate that Don Bosco is a relatively new saint in that there is extensive record keeping of his life and ministry. He died in 1888 and was canonized less than fifty years later in 1934, which means that while I was in high school there were still people alive who might have personally known him and remembered his canonization ceremony. I have never met any of them but I am fortunate enough to have spoken with some Salesian priests who are involved with the archiving of his records.

If a great number of people find dream interpretation compelling it’s probably because a great number of people dream: If only a small number of people find Don Bosco’s dreams and stories foretelling it’s probably because only a small number of people dream foretelling dreams. These kinds of dreams are not common but they have a prevalent role in salvation history. For instance, Genesis occupies us with more than a handful of dreams over several chapters while relating the story of Joseph’s meteoric plummet and star-like rise to the highest position next to Pharaoh. Incidentally, Joseph provides with a very useful quote in Genesis 40:8, “Surely, interpretation [of dreams] comes from God.” Daniel shares a similar story of interpreting dreams for King Nebuchadnezzar. Matthew tells us how twice during dreams an angel confirmed and instructed Joseph to receive and protect Mary and Jesus.

Maria Your book reminded me of the interpretation of the Apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe, all that can be seen in the reflection of her eyes. Do you have an interest in any other hidden vision or prophecies of the Catholic Church?

Tim This kind of reading fascinates me and the Catholic Church is rich with it. I consider myself fortunate and blessed that there is an abundance of approved visions, canonized saints and flat out miracles to provide me with more material than I could thoroughly assimilate in my lifetime much less write about. Because I have developed a vocabulary of images through considering Saint John Bosco’s dreams, my next project will be to collage and paint these image-words together in a novel of hybrid historical fantasy fiction about a ‘hidden’ relic. This genre still requires research but there’s more latitude and creativity in expressing truths through signs in narrative form, so I relish the thought.

Maria Who is your favorite saint? Do you have a ‘writing patron’?

Tim My most favorite saint is unequivocally Mary, then John Bosco (he would want it that way). After Mary and Bosco, Thomas Aquinas and Therese of Avila rank pretty highly as do Joseph and the Archangel Michael. If John Paul II were canonized I imagine he would place somewhere around here. The same goes for Fulton Sheen. Then there is also Augustine, Ignatius, Padre Pio, Maximilian Kolbe, Martin, Lawrence, Francis… soon the orchestra will play over this acknowledgment speech and ushers will escort me off stage… Gertrude, Bridget, Therese of Lisieux, Faustina, Thomas More…

Maria That’s funny. And lastly, what does Tim Bartel do in his free time?

Tim I write books and blogs in my spare time since they do not yet pay the bills. What I do while I’m not writing, or rather for work is graphics and web design. Presently I’m learning ASP.Net

Maria Thank you so much for taking the time! I’m looking forward to ordering your book and reading it.

Tim I so enjoyed this interview! Happy belated feast day of Saint John Bosco (Jan 31)!!!

Genesis 40:8
View in: NAB Vulg Hebrew
8They answered: We have dreamed a dream, and there is nobody to interpret it to us. And Joseph said to them: Doth not interpretation belong to God? Tell me what you have dreamed.

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Genesis 40:8
View in: NAB Vulg Hebrew
8They answered: We have dreamed a dream, and there is nobody to interpret it to us. And Joseph said to them: Doth not interpretation belong to God? Tell me what you have dreamed.

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Genesis 40:8
View in: NAB Vulg Hebrew
8They answered: We have dreamed a dream, and there is nobody to interpret it to us. And Joseph said to them: Doth not interpretation belong to God? Tell me what you have dreamed.

Dream of the Altar Cloth

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Dream:

I was at my home parish standing at the altar about to consecrate the Eucharist.  A friend was standing on the other side of the altar in front of me to the left.  He invited me to look at the altar cloth, which was pristine white.  As I looked I saw some small crumbs of the Blessed Sacrament on the altar cloth.  Startled, I reached out too pick up the crumbs and place them in the ciborium but my friend invited me to look closer.  Instantly I was able to see the altar more clearly and became aware of many smaller crumbs like course sand or like a constellation of stars but all of one size spread unevenly over the entire altar cloth.  They were nearly as white as the altar cloth and therefore required close inspection to discern.  My immediate thought was, “how do I possibly pick up all of them?”  I was embarrassed and bewildered at how many there were.  My friend seemed to be saying to me that the altar cloth would have to be laundered and I knew that the Church has a special means by which to purify it.

 Notes:

I experienced this dream a couple of years ago and I truly wish I had written it down while it was fresh in my mind.  Nevertheless, I can still picture some of the images in my mind, especially the clarity with which I was made able to see the crumbs on the altar cloth at the second glance.

 My Interpretation:

The meaning of this dream is also equally clear to me.  Upon waking I almost immediately recognized that this dream was informing me of a need for the sacrament of Confession, which I soon made.  There were a few aspects of the dream that troubled me until further contemplation.  First of which is the number of small crumbs.  The crumbs represent my non-confessed sins at the time.  The size of the crumbs denotes the degree of sins; how grave it is.  The number of crumbs was greater than I would have imagined and this directly relates to how many times I committed these infractions.  The second look recalls the examination of conscience prior to confession.  That the crumbs were white and blended in with the altar cloth refers to how difficult it is to discern even small sins from everyday activities of life or to realize and acknowledge them as sins. The second troubling aspect of this dream is that I am not a priest and cannot consecrate the host.  But every Catholic has a priestly role in the Mass.  That is, every Catholic offers the trials of his life in union with the Holy Sacrifice.  This is what is meant by my intention to consecrate.  I am coming before the altar, in union with the sacrifice of the Holy Mass, in order to offer my trials to God.  Before I actually give them up my friend, who in this instance represents either Jesus, my guardian angel, or my own conscience, points out that there are non-confessed sins of which I am not fully aware.  The third troubling aspect about the dream is the particular friend that my conscience chose to represent as counselor to me.  This preoccupied me and hindered me temporarily from fully considering the previous two troubling aspects.  I had to first put aside any personal objections and internal competitions I had with this real life friend before I could move forward.  Although this part of the dream was minor when compared to the meaning and importance of the other images I mention it because it is these kinds of prejudices that the conscious mind entertains that prevent spiritual growth. 

Perhaps the most peculiar aspect of this dream imagery is how the Eucharist can be a sign of sin.  I never questioned whether the crumbs on the altar were consecrated.  When I saw the first of the few larger crumbs I knew that they were in fact consecrated.  That’s why it was startling for me to see.  If I understand these crumbs to be my sins then the shock of seeing so many is likewise understandable.  If these crumbs are not consecrated then they are just bread crumbs and there is no weight to their importance as representation of sin.  They would be sins not committed in that case.  It is easier to see how the dream image of the Eucharist can represent sin if we look at the totality of Christ’s true presence in the Eucharist regardless of the size of the host or its fragmentation.  In the same way that the smallest piece of the Eucharist is 100% Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, likewise the smallest sin is 100% sin.  When I described this dream and interpretation to my confessor he acknowledged it as good and reasonable.

Some after thoughts and additional reading:

There is another way by which the Eucharist can represent sin.  While recalling to mind that the Eucharist is Jesus consider that Jesus was made sin for us:

“And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:18-21

The context of this quote is precisely the same as the context of this dream of the altar cloth and crumbs; reconciliation.   Compare Numbers 21:8 with John 19:37 and Zechariah 12:10

© Tim Bartel 2008

Genesis 40:8
View in: NAB Vulg Hebrew
8They answered: We have dreamed a dream, and there is nobody to interpret it to us. And Joseph said to them: Doth not interpretation belong to God? Tell me what you have dreamed.
2 Corinthians 5:18-21
View in: NAB Vulg Greek
18But all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Christ; and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.
19For God indeed was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing to them their sins; and he hath placed in us the word of reconciliation.
20For Christ therefore we are ambassadors, God as it were exhorting by us. For Christ, we beseech you, be reconciled to God.
21Him, who knew no sin, he hath made sin for us, that we might be made the justice of God in him.
Numbers 21:8
View in: NAB Vulg Hebrew
8And the Lord said to him: Make brazen serpent, and set it up for a sign: whosoever being struck shall look on it, shall live.
John 19:37
View in: NAB Vulg Greek
37And again another scripture saith: They shall look on him whom they pierced.
Zechariah 12:10
View in: NAB Vulg Hebrew
10And I will pour out upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace, and of prayers: and they shall look upon me, whom they have pierced: and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for an only son, and they shall grieve over him, as the manner is to grieve for the death of the firstborn.

How Some Dreams Inform the Conscience

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Dreams come in many types.  The majority of them are like fleeting mental and emotional regurgitations from experiences we have while awake.  As we sleep our minds bring them up and chew on them for a while before swallowing them back down again.  That many dreams are influenced by bodily functions and external factors is certain.  Yet some dreams are more vivid and leave us with a notion that they are important.  The dreamer usually knows when a dream is important.  Additionally, since the subconscious mind is impartial the dreams we sometimes have can inform us of our conscience especially when we are suppressing it.  It’s these kinds of “important” or “informing” dreams that I will write about in this blog.

 

If you are interested in a Catholic book on dreams here is one with an imprimatur: The Secret of Dreams by Pedro Meseguer, S.J.  It is out of print but I was able to find a copy on Ebay.  It is scholarly and examines psychoanalysis too heavily in my opinion but you can find a few suggestions in it for the practical application of dreams as an aid to informing the conscience.  The author recommends such interpretation be done with the help of a suitable spiritual advisor.

Genesis 40:8
View in: NAB Vulg Hebrew
8They answered: We have dreamed a dream, and there is nobody to interpret it to us. And Joseph said to them: Doth not interpretation belong to God? Tell me what you have dreamed.
2 Corinthians 5:18-21
View in: NAB Vulg Greek
18But all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Christ; and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.
19For God indeed was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing to them their sins; and he hath placed in us the word of reconciliation.
20For Christ therefore we are ambassadors, God as it were exhorting by us. For Christ, we beseech you, be reconciled to God.
21Him, who knew no sin, he hath made sin for us, that we might be made the justice of God in him.
Numbers 21:8
View in: NAB Vulg Hebrew
8And the Lord said to him: Make brazen serpent, and set it up for a sign: whosoever being struck shall look on it, shall live.
John 19:37
View in: NAB Vulg Greek
37And again another scripture saith: They shall look on him whom they pierced.
Zechariah 12:10
View in: NAB Vulg Hebrew
10And I will pour out upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace, and of prayers: and they shall look upon me, whom they have pierced: and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for an only son, and they shall grieve over him, as the manner is to grieve for the death of the firstborn.