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The Transformative Power of Dreams - An Introductory Workshop
Presenter: Sr. Mary Ellen Ryley, SCMM - January 27, 2018

By Mary Mosser, FSC Associate

After Mass, we met in Marian Hall for our Associate group day. We went around the room and introduced ourselves to Sr. Mary Ellen (Sr. Mel), explained what motivated us to come to Lemont for the day’s presentation and mentioned if we had any prior knowledge or interest in dreams.

When the introductions were complete, Sr. Mel talked to us about recalling and recording dreams. She gave us tips to help us remember our dreams and some possible ways to record dreams.

When I introduced myself, I mentioned that I've woken up in the morning knowing that I had been dreaming while I slept, but the dream disappeared quickly from memory. After our workshop on dreams, I moved a notebook by my bed so I could write about my dreams as soon as I woke up. As Sr. Mel suggested, writing down even a fragment of the dream helps one to remember other pieces of the dream.

Next, Sr. Mel explained how the Jung Circle Association worked. Each of us followed the steps for the exercise. We chose a dream symbol for the center of the circle. A dream symbol is a person, object, place, color, sound, animal or activity from a dream. Around the dream symbol we wrote whatever came to mind that we thought was connected with the dream symbol. Next, we reflected on the dream symbol and our associations to that symbol. During our reflection, we focused on any of the associations that felt right to us, maybe something that reminded us of an issue or event happening in our life.

One or more of my recent dreams took place at my childhood home. As an adult, I lived with my parents before I moved into my own house. I used mom and dad’s house as my dream symbol. Some of my associations were: parents, childhood home, parents retired to North Carolina and dad could fix anything that was broken.

After writing my associations to my childhood home, I realized that these dreams were happening when things were breaking in my house. My parents were not traveling to Chicago for Christmas so dad wasn’t able to help fix some of these things for me. I would have to work on getting things fixed without dad’s help. I didn’t know if that was the correct interpretation, but it felt right.

After our exercise on the Jung Circle Association, Sr. Mel explained the Gestalt Dream Process. With this process, you become the dream symbol. In theory, every element in the dream is an aspect of the dreamer’s personality. As the dream symbol, you are to describe yourself...your qualities, characteristics, function and purpose using "I am" statements.

Sr. Mel gave us time to do this exercise. I used the "I am" statements to describe my parents’ house, but it didn’t lead to any additional insight. When people in the group shared their thoughts after this exercise, they noticed that the statements made as the dream symbol were more positive than the previous exercise. If the dream symbol was from a scary or negative dream, this exercise showed that maybe the message from the dream wasn’t meant to frighten the dreamer, but to help figure out a problem.

Another technique that can be used with any type of dream is Inner Dialogue. With this technique, you have a conversation between yourself and your dream symbol. The dreamer creates the dialogue for both participants. Dream symbols are part of us. With this exercise, we give voice to different parts of ourselves. As a few people shared the inner dialogue with their dream symbol, I saw how this technique could be useful and may lead to an interesting insight.

An important final step when processing a dream is to connect with God, to pray and reflect on the message of the dream and what I can learn from this message for my journey through life.

Dream interpretation was an interesting subject for an Associate group day. I wondered what I could learn by interpreting my dreams. I found out that dreams are sent to us by the Spirit to help us with problems and questions. By paying attention to and reflecting on the message of our dreams, we gain insight about ourselves and the events in our lives.

Associate Reflection Day
- Saint Francis, Pope Francis - A Common Vision

Elizabeth Pienta and Brian Nosbusch
By Mary Mosser, FSC Associate - November 11, 2017

After Mass, we gathered in the back of chapel by the sarcophagus of Mother Mary Theresa, the foundress of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago. Two Associates who were not able to join us for the recommitment celebration on October 1st made their recommitment after Mass.

Afterwards, we met in Marian Hall for our reflection day. The opening prayer was the song “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace.” It was the perfect song to start our day.

The presentation given by Elizabeth Pienta, an FSC Associate, was based on the book 'Saint Francis, Pope Francis - A Common Vision' by Gina Loehr with Al Giambrone. The authors talk about the commonalities between St. Francis of Assisi and Pope Francis in the following areas; humility, charity, church, peace and joy. Elizabeth expounded upon each of the five areas. She had also prepared a pamphlet containing reflection questions on each of the areas. Time was given at the end of each section for reflection.

Francis of Assisi lived a life of austere poverty. Even when the community he started grew in size and popularity, Francis continued to live a humble and simple life. None of the friars, including Francis himself, had a title in the community. Pope Francis models himself after St. Francis of Assisi beginning with the name he chose. We’ve all heard stories of Pope Francis’ humility and how he declined certain privileges to live simply. What I hadn’t heard before was that Jorge Mario Bergoglio - Bishop, Cardinal and now Pope Francis had taken a vow not to seek any of these offices.

Before he started his life of service, St. Francis of Assisi noticed a homeless man who came to beg in his father’s shop. Francis turned the homeless man away, but felt so bad that he ran after the man, leaving the shop unattended. When Francis found the homeless man, he filled the man’s pockets with money. Like the Saint whose name he chose, Pope Francis speaks out for the people society ignores. He also puts his words into action. One of my favorite stories about Pope Francis is about the showers he had built in the Vatican for the homeless of St. Peter’s Square.

St. Francis of Assisi went out and repaired the Church of his time. First, he was a living example of the Gospel and then he preached the Gospel message to others. Pope Francis thinks of the Church as a mother. He stays true to Church teachings and emphasizes mercy, forgiveness and compassion by his words and actions. Pope Francis is repairing the Church of his time.

St. Francis of Assisi lived with an inner peace. He was at peace in poverty, in prison, in sickness and in suffering. Pope Francis also lives with this same inner peace. When he appeared before the world as our new Pope, with all of the responsibility placed on him, Pope Francis was at peace.

St. Francis of Assisi found joy in all of God’s creation. He also found joy in his suffering and physical ailments. He praised God for giving him the stigmata. Pope Francis also found joy in his own personal suffering, knowing that in this suffering he was imitating Christ.

The presentation lasted an hour. Then after a short break, we met in chapel for the 2nd part of our reflection day. First we sang, "Holy God We Praise Thy Name" then Deacon Brian exposed the Blessed Sacrament for adoration. Along with Eucharistic Adoration, the service included three reflections.

The first reflection was a silent reflection on The Act of Faith. The second reflection was also silent, but on The Act of Hope and The Act of Love. The 3rd reflection was for the whole group to pray aloud - The Act of Contrition.

After reflecting on the common vision between St. Francis of Assisi and Pope Francis, it seemed fitting that we continued our prayers and reflection with the Acts of Faith, Hope, Love and Contrition. The Acts speak of St. Francis of Assisi and of Pope Francis on their loyalty to the teachings of the Church and their dedication to repairing the Church of their time. Both men show us how to live the Gospel and are examples to us of loving God and loving our neighbors.