Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Friday 17 September |
home iconChurch
line break icon

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

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?]


Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Top 10
Cerith Gardiner
Our favorite stories of celebrities who inspire us in daily life
Philip Kosloski
How receiving Holy Communion can drive away demons
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Pope considers what to do with pro-abortion Catholic politicians
Berthe and Marcel
Lauriane Vofo Kana
This couple has the longest marriage in France
As irmãs biológicas que se tornaram freiras no instituto Iesu Communio
Francisco Veneto
The 5 biological sisters who joined the religious life in just tw...
Philip Kosloski
Why is the feast of the Holy Cross celebrated on September 14?
Philip Kosloski
This prayer to St. Anthony is said to have “never been known to f...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.