Sunday, November 22, 2009

Jesu dulcissime, Redemptor

Today is the Feast of Christ the King and the last week of the old year in the Catholic calendar. Next week comes Advent and the beginning of a new church year.

Since I've been reading the Narnian Chronicles to Paddy and the Lord of the Ring series to Paddy and Kieron, I suppose it's not altogether surprising that I had a Narnia/Middle Earth dream last night. I hardly ever dream, and then I had this dream that was so vivid it was almost like reading a book. It made me feel like this a bit.

In the dream, there was a villain who was sort of like a mix between a Tarkaan and a Black Rider, and some children rather like Jill and Eustace, and a warrior and a wizard who were very similar to Aragorn and Gandalf. Eclectic bunch, yes, I know. The evil person was sort of an assassin who had come to kill someone (not quite clear on that part). For some reason the whole dream was set in our upstairs loft and Aidan's Pikachu pillow came into the narrative.

I had been reading Fulton Sheen yesterday and something he said in the book came into the dream too. He commented about the laborers in the vineyard and how the earlier workers complained about the ones who came in at the eleventh hour. Bishop Sheen writes:

"The thought of a reward does not enter into the heavenly service. Those who lead a moral life for forty years and then protest the late-comers' salvation have the spirit of the hireling. With all the true acts of the spiritual man, the inspiration is love and not a desire of reward."
The Gandalf character in my dream actually said something to this effect, though in a less discursive form. He was speaking about the villain character, who had just died. The evil guy had repented at the last second, like the murderer Pranzini that St Therese was praying for, and one of the children in the dream was questioning how he could possibly be forgiven when he had served the forces of evil for his whole life. The Gandalf-character said something like,

"You speak as if we are hirelings, working for pay, but we are sons of a Father and all his sons are our brothers."

It was the last bit of the dream before I woke up. You know how extraordinary it is for a dream to actually hang together when you wake up, but this one (mostly) did. OK, except for the Pikachu pillow. And that, I think, came in not only because of the setting of our loft but because Aidan's code blue 10 years ago is the closest I've come to witnessing a death.

The dream and the last message actually fit the theme of today's collect:

Almighty and merciful God, you break the power of evil and make all things new in your Son Jesus Christ, the King of the universe. May all in heaven and earth acclaim your glory and never cease to praise you.
and the Jesu Dulcissime, Redemptor

Be King, O Lord, not only of the faithful who have never forsaken you, but also of the prodigal children who have abandoned you; grant that they may quickly return to their Father's house, lest they die of wretchedness and hunger. Be King of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions, or whom discord keeps aloof, and call them back to the harbor of truth and the unity of faith, so that soon there may be but one flock and one Shepherd.
Since it is so unusual for me to dream like this, so vividly and coherently (usually I can't even remember if I dreamed or no!) I couldn't help feeling it was something like a gift. Though it was sort of sad as it was happening, I wish all my dreams were of this sort! Anyway, it was a nice note on which to start the Church's New Year.

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