Feb 23, 2011

The Screwtape Letters revisted (part IV)

12) He must not be allowed to suspect that he is now, however slowly, heading right away from the sun on a line which will carry him into the cold and dark of utmost space.
For this reason I am almost glad to hear that he is still a churchgoer and a communicant. I know there are dangers in this; but anything is better than that he should realise the break it has made with the first months of his Christian life. As long as he retains externally the habits of a Christian he can still be made to think of himself as one who has adopted a few new friends and amusements but whose spiritual state is much the same as it was six weeks ago. And while he thinks that, we do not have to contend with the explicit repentance of a definite, fully recognised, sin, but only with his vague, though uneasy, feeling that he hasn't been doing very well lately.

As people start their Christian walk in life and become content with their new found happiness there comes a time when Satan throws those forks in the road. The forks which are subtle, yet can lead us down the wrong path.
The tendency is to become a "Sunday Christian" or a "Cafeteria Catholic"; "I'm a good person" attitude and that is well enough, even though on the inside we having feelings and opposition to Gods laws and Church teachings.

Just as "the angels in Heaven rejoice over one repentant sinner" (Luke 15;10), the fallen angels rejoice whenever they take the soul of a luke warm Christian.

We are sinners and we are going to fall from time to time, but when we lose the reverence to all that is Holy and become "content" sinners, unrepentant sinners, the devil still has a chance of taking us to the pit with him.

If you lock God in a closet, you don't have to face him, or so you tell your self.

"I now see that I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked". The Christians describe the Enemy as one "without whom Nothing is strong". And Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man's best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them a relish, but which, once chance association has started them, the creature is too weak and fuddled to shake off.

You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing.

This reminds me of the saying "idle hands are the devils workshop".

Much like kids (and some adults) today; they either have a lot of free time to spare or they claim that "there's just nothing to do".

We used to use that phrase a lot when I was a kid, the only problem was that we would find something to do and it was usually something bad.

I think that this is the problem with kids growing up too fast; you have to always find something to occupy their hands and minds quicker. Nothing seems to satisfy, and as modern children grow up with more of the "luxuries" in life, the simple pleasures seem boring to them. A board game becomes just that...a "board" game...they grow board of it quickly, unlike the sights and sounds of a video game.

If we are not vigilant in filling our kids hands and minds, be sure Satan will.

The second paragraph reminds us that venial sins can be just as bad as mortal sins if we continue to let them pile up. One bad habit can lead to an addiction.

The addiction to sin can only be cured by prayer, reconciliation and penance. (and Gods Grace)

13) The man who truly and disinterestedly enjoys any one thing in the world, for its own sake, and without caring twopence what other people say about it, is by that very fact fore-armed against some of our subtlest modes of attack. You should always try to make the patient abandon the people or food or books he really likes in favour of the "best" people, the "right" food, the "important" books.

God has placed before us a real world with real pains and real pleasures. In their right order (in a way that gives glory or acknowledgement to God), material possessions, passions and feelings
can be "good for the soul".

These worldly things can lead us to spiritual things (not new age spiritual, but Holy spiritual).

People in these days have a tendency to "go with the flow" and in most cases, they get washed downstream. We have the freedom to like and dislike things in this world, but it seems that people are more concerned with their "image" so they are driven to what the rest of society deems good whether it is good for them or not.

There is only One who is good...that is God.

We are made in His image, and that is the only image we should strive for.

14) Your patient has become humble; have you drawn his attention to the fact? All virtues are less formidable to us once the man is aware that he has them, but this is specially true of humility. Catch him at the moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection, "By jove! I'm being humble", and almost immediately pride—pride at his own humility—will appear. If he awakes to the danger and tries to smother this new form of pride, make him proud of his attempt—and so on, through as many stages as you please.

Virtues, as great as they are, and as much as we want to gain them, can be used against us. We can succumb to false humility, or false pride. The virtuous person should be more aware of Gods blessings in their lives than by concentrating on how to obtain the virtues themselves. God has given us the virtues to glorify him and to bless others, not so we will feel more or less better about ourselves.

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