SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

Recurring Nightmares; Spiritual Attacks

May 25, 2015 by  
Filed under Challenges, Fr. Bartunek, Prayer, Spiritual Warfare



Dear Father John, When I was a child I used to have recurrent nightmares about snakes, rats, wild dogs and the feeling of choking myself. A priest came home and told my family to pray every night before sleeping, and that it would hopefully help me. It worked. And now that I’ve read this article I’m more convinced of what happened to me. It really freaked me out at first but now I want to know why this happened to me? And how can I avoid it to happen again? I could really use some help with this. Please, if you can help me get in touch with me through this website. Thanks.

You may never be able to find a specific answer as to why this type of spiritual attack was made on you. But I don’t think that should bother you at all. A general answer is sufficient.

What about the Past?
And in general, we know that we are engaged in a spiritual battle. The earth, this fallen world, is truly a battleground between good and evil. And just as God and his angels spread good influences to help us grow spiritually, so the devil and his minions are interested in impeding that growth and distancing us from God. Most of the time, their attacks simply take the form of temptations. Other times they take other forms. In your case, it could be a distraction to want to know exactly why certain things happened to you in the past. From the little that you have related, it seems that you don’t really need to know that – it may be irrelevant. I would suggest that you simply ask God to let you know why this happened, if God in his wisdom deems that you need to know it. After making that prayer, you can leave this thought aside and trust that God will take care of it.

What about the Future?
As to avoiding similar phenomena in the future, that too, I think, can be a distraction. You know what God wants of you: to follow his will, to grow in your love for him and for your neighbor, to avoid sin, to put your life and talents at the service of his Kingdom, to enjoy his gifts and glorify him by responding generously to them… If you pursue your relationship with God intentionally, lovingly, and conscientiously, you don’t need to worry about what might happen or might not happen. You will grow in your awareness that God is our Father, our Good Shepherd who always accompanies and protects us, even in the midst of our spiritual battles. Whatever he permits in our lives falls under the purview of his infinite wisdom, and he can bring good out of it, even if it seems difficult or nonsensical at the time. So I would suggest that you follow St. Paul’s advice as regards your concern about what the future might bring:

Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

God bless you!


Art: Caprichos No. 43, El Sueño de la Razón Produce Monstruos (Caprice No. 43, The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters), Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, 1797-99, PD-US, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Fr. John Bartunek, LC

Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991. After college, he worked as a high school history teacher, drama director, and baseball coach. He then spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the religious Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in 1993. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in 2010. He provided spiritual support on the set of Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" while researching the 2005 Catholic best seller, "Inside the Passion"--the only authorized, behind-the-scene explanation of the film. Fr. John has contributed news commentary regarding religious issues on NBC, CNN, Fox, and the BBC. He also served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican’s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. His most widely known book is called: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer". His most recent books are "Spring Meditations", "Seeking First the Kingdom: 30 Meditations on How to Love God with All Your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength", and "Answers: Catholic Advice for Your Spiritual Questions". Fr. John currently splits his time between Michigan (where he continues his writing apostolate and serves as a confessor and spiritual director at the Queen of the Family Retreat Center) and Rome, where he teaches theology at Regina Apostolorum. His online, do-it-yourself retreats are available at RCSpirituality.org, and he answers questions about the spiritual life at SpiritualDirection.com.

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