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Screwtape’s guide for Catholics leaving the church parking lot after Mass

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Ian Hooten/IHO/Science Photo Library

Russell E. Saltzman - published on 01/20/17

"All we must do is scrutinize the behavior of those poor cretins when their hymn screeching is done as they leave the worship of our Enemy."

My dearest Nephew, Wormwood:

Much time has passed since we last corresponded. I have extensively pondered the circumstances that led to our, shall I say, unfortunate estrangement of long, unhappy duration. But we must let bygones be, as they say, bygones.

It is in that spirit, dear Wormwood, I take quill in hand to present to you another opportunity, this one affording many convenient targets at which you may strike. A successful outcome will restore us both to the poor graces of His Infernal Majesty.

Yet for this endeavor you must ― for all the inconvenience and disgust it will occasion ― assume human form and sit you down in a church parking lot.

There, Wormwood, lays a rich harvest of souls, a veritable breeding ground of waywardness and frustration, an orchard of rotting spiritual fruits of failed thought, word, and deed. Perfect for our purposes, you have only to reach out and grasp.

It is simple. Our Infernal Master may have tempted The One 40 days in the wilderness, but He never tempted The One as he tried to leave the church parking lot after Mass. (Please, do not regard this as criticism of our Highly Fallen Leader. He can only think of so many things at a time, unlike our Enemy who thinks of everything at once. I make only a mere observation.)

All we must do is scrutinize the behavior of those poor cretins when their hymn screeching is done as they leave the worship of our Enemy. As soon as (if not before) their priest says “Go in peace,” they jam the aisles, jostling, weaving, dodging, and bleating like lost children. A slow departing priest, do not question, they will trample him without scruple. (I have not seen this actually, but I do sometimes hear their unguarded thoughts.)

But such is their passion, their urge, their single-mindedness to get to their car ahead of as many as they might; the priestly words launch them into a panicked upheaval. As is said in one of their own accounts, “Every man does what is right in his own eyes.” That exactly is what we seek, especially in the parking lot.

As I said earlier, remember: “One of their [human] inconsistencies is that while they are more than willing to say that they have given themselves to God, they get really irritated when they feel like someone is wasting their time, as if it belongs to them.”

Here in the parking lot, Wormwood, here do we find their armor’s chink: Their lack of patience and absence of charity, their contentiousness for self-interest, their competitiveness behind the wheel, all the poor gifts of His Infernal Glory.

What you must do is crowd the parking lot exit with slow drivers, older drivers, uncharitable drivers, aggressive drivers who have nowhere to assert themselves. When a driver reaches the exit to the street or highway, you must nudge him to turn left against the flow of traffic. This will further frustrate those already impatient and produce a seething anxiety in the others.

In short, dear Wormwood, you must make a complete collapse of law, order, that stuff of human dignity they always prattle about, as each rushes in a final race ― turned into a crawl ― to the exit.

Read more: What might Screwtape say about the Yoga Pants Protest?

The peace bestowed upon them only moments before? Forgotten, we may trust, as they struggle off the church grounds. A forgotten faith, dear Wormwood, is as good as a dead one.

You must exploit their fear of getting away last, of encountering an inordinate wait time at the restaurant behind all the other people who got there ahead of them. You must foster crankiness as they leave, leaving them with an inchoate, vague sense that nothing is ever worth the provocation of feeling delayed and inconvenienced.

What? Wormwood, you fool, your thoughts are unguarded as well. So what if they pray for patience? When has that ever worked in a parking lot after Mass?

Your Uncle, Screwtape.

[Editor’s Note: Take the Poll – Does your parish leave Mass as quickly as possible?]

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