Dreams, I have found, can often recall an event that we do not remember exactly as it happened. Or dreams can pose a question to us that we were not even aware we had on our minds. Dreams can be of value in the sense that they can sometimes jog a lagging memory or bring something to the forefront that we hadn't previously considered.
Last night, I had the kind of dream I could not wait to awaken from. This dream had one purpose, which tells me it wasn't sent by God. It was meant to strike fear and despair into my soul.
In this dream, I was in a room that resembled a dark cellar, and a woman dressed as one might expect the Blessed Virgin Mary to appear was sitting at a desk, reviewing my papers. In so many words, she told me what a disappointment I'd been and that my only chance of ever reaching Heaven was to spend the rest of the time left to the world in Purgatory. She pointed to a darkened room from which I could hear much moaning and wailing.
"But how long will I have to stay?" I cried.
"It will seem like forever and it very well might be."
I remembered what my priest had once told me, that when we pray for a soul in Purgatory, Our Lord goes to that soul to let them know they are being remembered and by whom. I asked the woman if Jesus would visit me to let me know if anyone was praying for my release.
"No" came the cold reply.
I asked why, and the woman told me very matter of factly that I'd been a huge disappointment. I listed all of the things I had done in life that I thought demonstrated my love for God and she shook her head.
"What makes you think you'd go to Heaven for any of those things?", and she banished me to what I can only assume was Purgatory. And as I entered the darkness, I was convinced I would never see God, and I wondered to myself why I had been lead to believe that every Mass, every Rosary or sacrifice would ever amount to anything in the life to come.
I cannot describe the feeling of despair that set in, which is how I know this was not from God. Such doubt could only be the work of the devil, or so I thought.
The dark night of the soul is something sent by God. This was not a dark night of the soul. This darkness was meant to destroy a soul, to have it say "why bother anymore, there is no chance of Heaven, so I might as well do as I please."
I was never so happy to awaken as I was from this weighty scene. And the more I thought about it today, the more it occurred to me that perhaps it did have some value after all. Why do I do what I do? And how does it compare to why the saints did what they did? Perhaps God had a hand in this after all?
St. Therese did what she did purely out of love for God and her burning desire to do whatever would please Him, without any sensual (meaning felt) benefit to herself. Why do I do what I do? Sure, I can say it's because I love God, but is that purely the reason? Isn't the reason I do what little I do to be able to see God face to face someday? And isn't that a symptom of self-love?
It further occurred to me that if I loved Him as I should, I would give no thought to what my sacrifices will earn me in the world to come. And I would do anything He asked without hesitation. Only then will I have separated from myself and formed a perfect union with Him.