(This contemporary letter and reply are inspired by CS Lewis’ Screwtape Letters)
You have a tough project to be sure. Wormwood wasn’t up to it. He’s been banished to the Noise Pit for now. You hadn’t heard that yet? Ah. It’s a juicy story. One of our very own, Wormwood, was actually being tempted by this client that you are now assigned to! She’s a “Catholic” but they are often easy ones to win. What is our world coming to when her goodness would actually make one of our own begin to doubt himself?
But you have what it takes for this job. After you interned with the high Master to begin the Relativism project over 100 years ago, you are now considered an expert in the bigger cultural issues. Let us hope you can translate that work into dealing with some of these hard cases! My job with you is to observe and offer assistance as needed to conquer this one. The Master wants revenge. He can’t stand to lose.
It is certainly an honor that the Master now considers me his second in command and has trusted us both with this particular project. Between the two of us, we’ll win.
So down to business now.
Your assignment is this: The client is a 56 year old woman who says she is dedicated to prayer after living a rough life. Prayer is when those people talk to the Other Side. They usually can’t hear answers directly and they don’t see immediate results of this prayer, so that works in our favor. Create doubt. Make her think she may be wasting her time. Distractions and doubt work well for these types.
The Other Side moves slowly and carefully because He wants full conversion. He wants them to seek Him out and love Him because He loves them. Ugh. It makes me shudder. But He is slow about this, so all we need to do is move fast and create a contrast. Do you get what I mean? He, I mean that One who creates the creatures, He tests them and asks them to keep knocking at His door. They find Him only when they pay careful attention and persevere in this “prayer and holiness” way of living. He gives them gifts too of course. The beautiful world, the kindness of others, the sacraments of the Church. His very Words in that book. But we’ll deal with those things one at a time. First we have to deal with this prayer problem.
Your best beginning steps are to just to create doubt. Plant the message in her mind, “Why are spending so much time here? You have things that need to get done. The dishes are in the sink. The laundry is piled up. Don’t you have a grandchild in the next room? She needs you.”
The next step is to disrupt any sense of prayer routine. Most of them don’t realize that if they keep at it, they will eventually get rid of all the barriers we have put in their way, simply by persevering.
Right now your client is getting up early and doing this prayer thing but it is not yet a routine. Getting the grandchild there is perfect. The client already finds it difficult to get up for 30 minutes earlier. Now the grandkid will wear her out. Plant the seed—“I can’t do that this early morning prayer time this week. Maybe next week when the little one is gone.”
Silence is the time when He comes to them. When they clear out all our messages, and set aside the distractions and simply wait in silence, He makes Himself known in subtle but beautiful ways. We must remember to keep them from that kind of silence.
It is easier to do our job with modern teenagers. I’ve been out of touch with your case these last few weeks as I enjoy the work at a high school where I have several clients. The “noise pollution idea” that the Master thought up was a stroke of pure genius. Whenever you can get the clients to fill up their days with constant noise, they won’t have time for this conversation with the Other Side. Teens now have earbuds always in use. It’s a clear shot from there to instilling a sense of meaninglessness. They have no relationship with the Other. They are then easy prey. You just tell them, “There is no meaning to life except fun.” And once the fun isn’t fun anymore, you just tell them, “There is no meaning. Period. It’s over.”
The noise trick works with some older folks too. You just remind them how tired they are. They need to relax. TV is relaxing. It will help them stop thinking.
Can you believe it? I actually convinced one fellow that “Not thinking” is really good! He wanted to numb himself. So I got the fellow to leave the TV all the time. Twenty four hours a day of pure mush! I was, at that time, controlling all the TV writers too! Most of the programs are on our side now. We are winning! It is very exciting.
Bu your client is troubling. I saw that she went a meeting to talk about prayer at her church and there were several people there. They all seem determined to pray together for our defeat! How dare they! And they seemed happy about it! I was squirming the whole time!
Your client is starting to think about the next life and she wants to go the Heaven to be with Him. Get her interested instead in thinking that she wants to avoid us. I know that doesn’t sound right but it’s a step away from wanting to be with Him because He is so good. We want them just to think they don’t want to go to Hell.
Then we convince them there is no Hell because a loving God wouldn’t do that to anyone. From there you get them into Pleasure mode. You convince them that He accepts everyone. All they have to do is say, “Sorry” on their deathbed and they are sailing to Heaven. There are all kinds of them that believe that nowadays.
But this groups and your client…we must stop prayer and disturb every place of silence. Get to work now, Pegleg. I’ll be watching.
And one of these days, you can tell me about your name.
In the heat of this moment, Screwtape
Here is the List on the ways we work with individuals in case you have lost it. I am told you are a bit careless:
- Plant distractions so they won’t pray.
- Feed them noise all the time. It keeps them from longing for the Other Side.
- Tell them they don’t have to go to Mass every week. They can find God anywhere.
- Tell them they don’t have to go to Confession to a human being. God hears them wherever they are.
- After you have done the steps above, you can move on to the meat of things. Tell this church of theirs is made up of human beings. Those people there have made a lot of mistakes. After they see “mistakes”, tell them those people in the church are actually worse than those outside of it. (Hypocrites!)
- “Sin” was made up by their church to take away their freedom. Keep telling them sin isn’t real. Tell them we aren’t real either! “There is no such thing as hell or devils.” This is a real winner!
- Pleasure is a gift. Tell them to seek to enjoy the world fully. Tell them not to listen to anyone who makes them feel bad or feel ashamed.
- Remind them over and over: “You are in charge of what is real for you. Don’t follow other people’s rules. Decide what works for you.”
You are indeed out of touch with what is going on in regard to this particular client, Catherine. But before I give you that update, I must clarify that it is I, Pegleg, who is second in command to the Master. And your lack of focus regarding this project, which we were to work on together, may very well send YOU to the Noise Pit!
But perhaps the Master will be a bit understanding if we move on quickly and bring him a group of other ones. He’ll forget about one client if we deliver many to him.
As for this Catherine, here is the story:
She was told by doctors that her cancer has advanced to Stage 4. I tried to use that as an opening because I assumed she would be angry. But there was only a slight glimmer of sadness.
As you well know, we can’t just take over their minds. They have to let us in, or invite us in. I was sure her sadness about the illness would lead to hopelessness and that is always an entry point.
But instead, this Catherine started to pray all the time. She puts on quiet religious music at night. She talked to her priest. She has a prayer group that comes to her house now to pray with her. And she even goes twice a week to help at the homeless shelter! I tried to sneak in at night. I tried to parade images of death as an end to everything, a dark hole. I did a slide show about her children and all the things that were going to be taken from her. But then this angel is light appeared and pushed me farther and farther away.
The Other Side is now protecting this one. I do not believe there is anymore that can be done. We can keep our ears open. If she starts to be afraid and to listen to doubts, well I’ll be right there to bring her along, unless they stab me! I’ll expand that doubt. But that light fellow is tough. He has a sword that pierces. We had a bit of a tussle. I am quite sure I have done what can be done.
I do, however, have some information from this case which might be useful in the future. I have witnessed the Other Side’s game plan. You said the Light One moves slow. But in fact, He has all his minions surrounding the ones who were baptized. Just like with us, they can’t enter the thoughts of the clients unless they are invited. But they jump on it once there is an opening. They respect this idea of “free will.” In fact, they are the ones who enforce it. That’s why we can’t get into the mind of clients, unless we are invited. It disgusts me, but it is reality.
The battle is still a challenge. We have planted many things in the culture that will seduce the clients and then they invite us in. But the Light One has His tools too. There is still beauty, goodness, kindness. There are still those who show great courage and speak out about these things. The game plan on the other side is this (I saw notes written on the inside of that angel’s shield! That was a real win for us!)
The Way THEY work:
- The angel’s shield said: Always be available for any call. “Surround our children with angels, and the saints are hovering over them.” And Mary, the one they call Heavenly Mother, she is always asking for favors for them.
- Show them beauty in art, nature, music and in the eyes of others.
- Each of the humans has an inner longing for Him. It was planted at birth. Feed this longing by encouraging the ones who already listen to us, to share their faith.
- Ask the faith followers to intercede on behalf of those who are struggling. Then the Father will send even more angels and saints.
- Love them. Love is tangible. They will sense that love and then they will open the door of their hearts.
- See that the churches become hospitals for sinners. Once the children feel loved, they will begin to long for goodness. And they will feel the dirt of sin and want to have it cleaned away.
- When their minds have begun to open, let them see, hear and know that there is truth. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.”
- The sacraments provide an infusion of grace from heaven. It is like an IV in a hospital. It gives life!
I’m sorry, Screwtape, to give you the actual wording. I know that it will make you squirm. But it is “good” that we understand how they operate.
I do so hate those words—“good and bad.” But they exist, even for us!
I have moved on to the high school now where you have been dabbling. You seem to think it is all easy there. But I have seen the angels gathering around there too. And that Mary is reaching out to several of those kids. I’ll work with you. But only if you take this seriously.
P.S. You should know that my name comes from one of an earlier client’s books. I particularly liked the image of a one-legged fellow who stalks the minds of children. I am quite an expert at getting to them using fear and pleasure. So do not think you can be my superior!