My Dear Grubmuck

November 11, 2013 | 11 comments

On the 13th day of March, in the despised year of our Enemy 2013.

My Dear Grubmuck,

I trust that it was made clear to you when you were contacted by Lower Command about this new assignment that I accepted you for this task with the gravest of concerns for your ability to accomplish the planned objective for Our Father Below. My hated nephew Wormwood—who managed to pin on his uncle that unfortunate incident of losing a patient to the Enemy some time ago (by the reckoning of the hairless bipeds) and has since descended more deeply into the bowels of Lowerarchy than I—recommended you to Our Father Below. Thus I was given no choice but to accept you, and so I will train you. I will also document everything, and you will find it most difficult to follow Wormwood's path should you fail.

Let us review the assignment. On this day, within the Enemy's Beachhead, called by some a "Church"—hell be upon her!—the bipeds selected a new Deputy to represent the Enemy.

Insofar as we can rejoice in anything, hell erupted with joy at the resignation of his predecessor. For one brief infernal moment, we saw huge possibilities once the Deputy Emeritus stepped down. He had long been a thorn in the side of Our Father Below, bringing painful light upon the person of Our Father's ancient Enemy. We had been making slow but sure progress in crushing him beneath the weight of the world. The resignation seemed at first to demonstrate weakness, and thus we thought we had been victorious. But the Enemy's promise that the truth shall set free a lover of truth prevailed yet again. Bygones, but rest assured that the Deputy Emeritus's tempter is being appropriately punished as we speak.

Now we have turned our attention to the new Deputy. He has long been under our watchful gaze. Much to our dismay, and at the folly of his tempter, he knows that. A direct attack against him is not advisable at this time. You will have to attack him through those he loves. This route has served us well enough against the Enemy; it should continue to serve us in our war against his new Deputy.

Knowing this, Our Father Below has decided upon a two-pronged attack. We will set ourselves to fomenting confusion among the masses of the hairless bipeds in union with the Deputy. It is an enormous task, and you have been assigned to one prong of the attack. Another, more senior tempter will deal with those of the Enemy's faithful who have found themselves to be at odds with previous Deputies, and who now see in the new one a hope for their reconciliation with their Church (HBUH!). It is a delicate task, as the Enemy is always despicably lavish with his welcome to those seeking a way home, and so it is not a task to be entrusted to so junior a tempter as you. 

Your task will be much simpler. You will be set to tempting those who have loved the previous Deputies, who fancy themselves loyal minions of the Enemy, as demonstrated by their devotion to his Deputies. While their road has not been without its bumps during the reigns of the last two Deputies, they have had a relatively easy time for many of their years. If you play our cards right, Grubmuck, that complacency may be used to diabolical advantage. I offer you my battle plan. Should we succeed, the credit for the plan shall be mine. Should you fail, the failure to execute my plan shall be yours.

Right now, in the aftermath of his election, the faithful ones are rejoicing for their new Deputy. Some of them are charmed already by his gestures of humility, such as asking for their prayers and bowing to receive their blessing. As reports from their princes filter in of his manner of accepting election and of his choice to travel with them back to the Domus Sanctae Marthae, these fools will continue to be charmed. New Deputies have a honeymoon, of sorts, and this one will be no different. Bide your time awhile. While you are waiting, you may amuse yourself with a few of them, those who are more attached to what they imagine to be "tradition" than they are to the living, breathing Church—HBUH!—by tempting them to release dire warnings of the Deputy's time in Buenos Aires and their speculation about what that may portend for his reign.

Soon enough, you may move forward by increments upon the rest of them.

Where the two previous Deputies were, respectively, a philosopher and a theologian, and therefore somewhat removed from the masses, this one is a pastor. He has decades of experience with boots on the ground among those That Blasted Woman called "the poorest of the poor." By the very name he took upon election, this Deputy has pledged himself to be an advocate for those often forgotten by comfortable Western faithful whose most difficult stressor in the Enemy's Camp, as yet, may have been along the lines of conflicts with their pastors. Capitalize upon this tendency to inflate small tribulations into massive "persecution." Then amplify the conflict.

When the Deputy speaks of his deep concern for the poor, remind the comfortable conservatives of the unborn baby bipeds for whom they have long fought. You may ask if this is a risky strategy. It will only be risky if your patients remember why they fight for the unborn. They fight for the unborn because they see in the unborn the image of the Enemy. If they begin to see the Enemy in less comely faces, such as those of the slum dwellers the Deputy walked amidst and ministered to during his tenure in Buenos Aires, then they will begin to understand the Deputy's fierce advocacy for the poor. But if they forget that and see the unborn as a helpful lever to advancing their cause of peace and prosperity for themselves, then all will be well. For us.

The Deputy may also urge the patients to remember why they are on the field of battle, and why they fight. He may seek to remind them that their goal is not surface conformity but inner transformation. If you guide them to believe that successful evangelization creates converts in their own image, rather than in the image of the Enemy, you will succeed in alienating from their efforts the very people who have been disaffected from the Enemy's Camp for so long.

As time progresses, I will send you further instructions for the specifics of your task. For now I will close by sketching for you the end for which we aim.

You want your patients at odds with each other. Those who remain devoted to the new Deputy should be accusing those scandalized by him of rigorism. Those scandalized by the Deputy should be accusing the devoted of papalotry (a delightfully diabolical label of which our Research and Development team is especially proud). Both sides should direct more of their focus to causing hurt and anger for each other than they do to listening to the Deputy or attending to what he asks of them. While all of them are thus scattered and confused, we can pick them off from the Deputy's flock in like manner to wolves selecting and devouring sheep separated from their shepherd.

Success is within our grasp, Grubmuck. I envision a day when the faithful fools who now cheer for this new Deputy, and proudly display their loyalty to him by fastening his prayer card to their refrigerator door, become so disillusioned by him that they toss him in their dustbin. They will vote him off their island, so to speak, because he did not keep them comfortable. He will make them uncomfortable, in much the same way his predecessors made uncomfortable those who distanced themselves from the Enemy's Camp for other reasons.

At all costs, Grubmuck, we must not allow to take root any idea that the Deputies of our Enemy are icons of the Fisherman—weak, bumbling, sinful Peter, who nevertheless loved the Enemy and always returned to his side. One of the Enemy's friends, and therefore our enemy, shared in a book we have worked hard to suppress his love for the Fisherman in all of the Fisherman's icons. While visiting the Deputy who saw the Camp through the Second Vatican Council and began the work of its implementation, this hated enemy said to that Deputy:

"Your Holiness, I have just discovered how easy Judgment is going to be."

"Oh," [the Deputy] said, "tell me, I would like to know."

"While I was waiting to come into your presence I had come to the conclusion that I had not loved the Church as much as I should. Now that I come before Your Holiness, I see the Church personalized. When I make my obedience to you, I make it to the Body and to the invisible Head, Christ. Now I see how much I love the Church in Your Holiness, its visible expression."

He said: "Yes, Judgment is going to be that easy for those who try to serve the Lord."

Our downfall, Grubmuck—yours, mine, that of Our Father Below, all hell's—will be in sight if that sentiment ever gains ground.

Tremble while you await my next contact. I will remain in touch, and will keep my gaze fixed upon you.

Your affectionate trainer,

Screwtape

Nota bene: Angry demons will not extract from us how this letter dropped into our hands. We share this with you solely as a blog post for your personal illumination, while gratefully acknowledging our debt to C. S. Lewis for the letters from Screwtape he obtained and published as The Screwtape Letters. Without Lewis's inspiration, this new infernal missive, not to be confused with his canon, would not have seen daylight.


Michelle Arnold is a staff apologist at Catholic Answers. You can contact her online through Facebook.
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Comments by Catholic.com Members

#1  jack hughes - bristol, Bristol City of

To be fair Ms Arnold I thought that the Feud between CA and those of us who are attached to the Traditional Rite had, if not been completely healed then at least in a state of cease-fire (based on the exchange between Mr's Ferreria, Keating and Matt in Mr Keating's blog post).

Yes there are many good things to say about Pope Francis, but one cannot deny that he has made poor prudential judgements in interviews that have led to the secular media having an easy time taking his words out of context, when Pope Benedict realized that this was happening to him he stopped doing interviews.

The gravest concern I have about Pope Francis is that he doesn't seem to realize on an emotional level that he is no longer a cardinal, that people will now report it when he breaks wind and that the liberal media are trying to hijack his image to promote their own agenda, especially since he superficially resembles one of them

November 11, 2013 at 11:58 am PST
#2  Br Jay Rivera FFV - PEMBROKE PINES, Florida

Let's take this in steps. First of all, those people out there who have attributed to themselves the authority to decide what is and is not prudent for a pope to say to the general public are one of the sectors of the population that this blog is addressing.

This self-imposed authority to decide what popes should say and to get into Benedict XVI's head and decide why he stopped giving interviews is just another of those means that the devil is using to divide and conquer from the inside.

The moment that one person decides to get inside the head of another either to interpret what he's thinking or dictate what he should be thinking, the first link of the chain of slavery is forged. Benedict XVI never made such a statement. It is an assumption. We must remember that others can also assume that we are wrong. But when you try to get into someone's head, you are attempting to be their master.

Whether the media uses whatever Francis says for its purposes or not is no reason for Francis to stop talking. Reports coming in from different diocese around the world confirm that the number of Catholics returning to mass and to confession is rising. These returnees are saying that it is Francis' outreach to them that drew them back.

Whatever the media says he said is irrelevant compared to the fact that he's getting people's attention. Fallen away Catholics are returning. Catholics who are actively involved in the Church are discussing the faith, even disagreeing, which is fine. Non believers are paying attention to this pope. In fact, some politicians, who are non-believers have said that they wish that certain heads of state would take lessons from Pope Francis.

Let's not forget that this man brought together Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and people of less known creeds to pray that Syria would not be bombed. His letter to President Putin was read and well received at the summit. The fact that so many people of so many faiths gathered to pray for this one intention, not only in Rome, but in many places around the world, impressed the participants at the summit, to the point that they found some face-saving excuse to back away from their original suggestion to bomb Syria.

Regardless of what the media says he said, the fact that people are paying attention to the pope, to his words, to his leadership and are seeing the Catholic Church in a different light is something that we cannot shove under the rug. For the first time in many years, many years, many people feel that the Catholic Church is speaking directly to them.

Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI did a wonderful job at setting up the philosophical and theological framework. But frameworks must be taken to the next level. That's the pastoral level. History has proven that this is why the Franciscans and Dominicans were able to save the Church of the Middle Ages and made formidable partners. Dominicans setup frameworks and Franciscans executed them through very simple pastoral actions that were often scandalous to those who were watching. Today, we look back and laugh at what people called scandalous. So it will be with the future generation looking back on us.

So NARAL sent the pope a thank you note. Big deal. At the end of the day, the pope also said, "Everyone knows what the Church believes about these (abortion, etc) topics. I am a son of the Church." So what why was NARAL so grateful? They thought that the pope had told pro-lifers to get off their backs. But that's not what the pope said. NARAL knows the Church's position and I'm sure it read the sentence, "I'm a son of the Church." I saw it there. Why couldn't they?

In other words, they did to the pope what they do to all leaders. They pick and choose what they like or what works for them and then they highlight that. Where's the surprise? This has been happening for 2,000 years.

I wouldn't worry about what the media says the pope said. I do worry about those souls out there who believe that they are not wanted in the Church. I'm glad that Pope Francis has taken what Pope John Paul said "Do not be afraid" and what Pope Benedict envisioined, "a smaller and more faithful Church" and is pushing this message. "Don't be afraid of the Church, because you're a sinner. You're in good company."

The Church will be smaller and poorer, because those who are unwilling to share it with the lepers of today's society will eventually cut their noses to spite their faces or simply put, will cut themselves off from the See of Peter to spite the pope.

November 11, 2013 at 3:05 pm PST
#3  jack hughes - bristol, Bristol City of

Br Jay

I was 'not appointing myself' judge of the Pope, I was merely offering an opinion in an area (PR) of which I have some expertise, one might note the Illinois lawmaker who referenced the Pope's comments in his decision to support the legal redefinition of marriage, my concern is not so much what the baby killers think but the possibility of poorly formed Catholics thinking that they can be Faithful Catholics and yet think that abortion, contraception etc is ok.

As for 'cutting ourselves off from the See of Peter to Spite the Pope", I would remark that Trad Catholics often give more per head at the collection plate than their Novus Ordo counterparts, undertake more (and often more effective) Evangelistic activity and are more Faithful to the teachings of the Church as lived out in everyday life. There is no need Brother for such trite language, especially from a Religious, I'm not sure what your experience with us Trads is, but (assuming your Superior gives permission) I would invite you to go to your local TLM sometime of which there are three in the Miami Diocese. Stick around, speak to the people try to understand them.

Good Evening

Jack

November 11, 2013 at 4:18 pm PST
#4  Br Jay Rivera FFV - PEMBROKE PINES, Florida

Jack, there we go with assumptions again. First of all, I am the superior. Secondly, we are a Trad religious community. Third, we would never dare us the term "Novus Ordo counterparts" as we know that it's condescending. There are no counterparts in the Catholic Church. There are simply Catholics. Some belong to Eastern Churches and others belong to the Latin Church. Within the Latin Church there are no counterpart Catholics.

My use of language was not meant to be trite. It was meant to be fair. The finger pointing, and self inflating language that both sides of the aisle use is the biggest problem facing the Church, not what these politicians say or how they use the Holy Father's words.

When the left calls the right rigorous and rigid, it's caustic. When the right calls the left Modernists and Novus Ordo Catholics, it's equally caustic.

When one side compares its achievements to those of the other side, it's called spiritual arrogance. Spiritual arrogance or triumphalism has done more harm to the Church and her relationship with the world than any other attitude among Catholics.

What Pope Francis is doing is steering us away from that kind of language of comparison and finger pointing and drawing us into the language of compassion, mercy, forgiveness and encounter.

No one can say that he has said anything contrary to the faith. In fact, if one reads his morning homilies, they're pages out of the writings of the spiritual masters. If one looks at his actions on behalf of the poor, they reflect the apostolic work of men and women like: Vincent de Paul, Francis of Assisi, Elizabeth Ann Seton, John Baptist de La Salle, Eugene Mazernot, William Chaminade, Pius X, Pius XII, Maximilian Kolbe and the list goes on. The Church has always been the leading force in the world to combat sin by beginning with the corporal needs of men and working up the spiritual hierarchy. That's all that the pope is trying to get Catholics to do.

Those who believe that ordaining women, approving same sex marriage, contraception and abortion is going to draw men to Christ are sadly mistaken. Those who believe that spouting off dogmas that are often expressed in a disjointed manner, as Pope Francis has already said, are also sadly mistaken.

Evangelization is a harmonious endeavor composed of an integrated vision of the Beatitudes and the Corporal Works of Mercy. Once you have brought in the poor (spiritually and material) and you have filled him, then you can move to the next step. If you have any doubts, look at the work of John Bosco.

The issue here is that the pope is under attack by two wings. The right is abusing what he says and the left is throwing stones at him. At the end of the day, the right and left are on the same side, because neither side is helping the pope or the Church. Both sides are feeding the sharks in the media.

The idea here is to stop this feud, which the devil has created and to come to the service of the Church, each with our vision and our gifts. We need to stay out of each other's heads. That's invasive. Instead, we should focus on the very thing that Pope Francis is focusing on and the devil does not like, the perfection of charity.

November 11, 2013 at 4:41 pm PST
#5  Victor Garcia - Chicago, Illinois

Thank you Jay
Your analysis. Is humble and refreshing may god bless you.

November 11, 2013 at 10:12 pm PST
#6  kenneth winsmann - katy, Texas

Br. Jay,

The biggest problem facing the Church is finger pointing and inflated language? In AA they teach that the first step towards recovery is admitting you have a problem. If you honestly believe the biggest problem in the Church today is finger pointing we are not ready to proceed to step 2.When the Arian controversy was at its height and "the whole world groaned to find it self Arian" were there such things as counterparts? Today you want to call us all "Catholics". That's the ideal.... But its not the reality. The reason why all these people are going back to mass on Sundays is because they are under the impression that Pope Francis is about to radically change everything. Who can blame them? This is a link that was sent to me by a reformed friend of mine.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEchg1KhmTY

conservative Christians of every stripe and denomination can see what's really going on with Pope Francis. He is super possible because he has (intentionally or not) given the world the impression that the Church is gearing up to play buddy buddy with the world.

November 12, 2013 at 12:12 am PST
#7  kenneth winsmann - katy, Texas

Super popular*

November 12, 2013 at 12:14 am PST
#8  Br Jay Rivera FFV - PEMBROKE PINES, Florida

I think that we have to pay close attention to what the blog above is telling us. The devil is making a feast out of our concerns. Why? Because the way that we express concern is inappropriate for Catholics.

For one thing, we lack the humility and the trust of lets say someone like St. Francis of Assisi and St. Dominic who lived in a Church that was riddled with heresies, sin and political agendas. But they and their friars survived without losing themselves or losing their followers, because they focused on a) their faith, b) the papacy, c) the protection of God and d) poverty. They were not interested in preaching to the popes. Remember, these men lived under such popes as Innocent III and Honorius III who were rather interesting people.

The devil also takes advantage of the fact that we spend too much time finding fault with each other rather than that which is directly before us. If every Catholic did as St. Jose Maria Escriva said, focused on making extraordinary the ordinary, instead of reading everything that the news has to say and every negative blog on the internet, we would be a Church of saints. But we're guilty of minding everyone else's business but our own, including me. Because I should probably not be concerned about what is said on this blog.

The devil is taking advantage of our lack of trust. At the end of the day, it makes no difference what these reverts think Pope Francis is going to do, nor does it make a difference what the press says he's going to do. We shouldn't care what gets people into the pews. Bishop Sheen used to say that as long as they get into the pews, that's all that matters to us. The rest is up to God. Faith is a gift that he gives, not us. But we're too worried about what these folks expect. I'm remembering my novice master who told us that the day that we worried about what the world said about our faith was the day that we should hang up our habits and go home. We were called to live the Gospel, not to fight wars.

The Church militant is about doing battle with the demons within us, not the demons in other people. We have no control over that. We can only discipline ourselves.

If we pay close attention to Pope Francis' homilies, they're all about self discipline. We need to work harder on that. If we live the Gospel as we are called to do, it opens the door for many graces to enter the world for the benefit of those who don't live the Gospel. If we are too concerned about those who don't live the Gospel, to the point that we become antagonistic toward our own people, we close the doors to grace.

November 12, 2013 at 12:35 am PST
#9  kenneth winsmann - katy, Texas

Very well said. Thank you!

November 12, 2013 at 6:22 am PST
#10  jack hughes - bristol, Bristol City of

Dear Brother

I'm delighted that you are the superior of a Traditional Monastery!! Perhaps it was wrong of me to use the term 'novus ordo counterparts', but my point basically was that those who go to the Traditional Mass tend to me more serious about the Faith.

Perhaps I have not been as clear as I could have been but my point has always been about the presentation of Pope Francis RATHER than the content, now you may dismiss this as worthless but as someone with a professional interest and knowledge of public relations a.k.a the Dark Arts I can see how the Image of the Church in the eyes of the world can impede conversion e.g. I have a gay friend who although he is agnostic is open minded and believes that it is possible that God exists, over the past couple of months that we have known each other I've a) disabused him of the notion that Catholics would want to attack him on-sight because of his SSA and (b) introduced him to the Unmoved Mover argument and the Kalam Cosomological argument, is he Catholic yet? No, but his perception of the Church more closely resembles reality, hence possible impediments to conversion have been removed. That is why I bang on about Perception.

Hope this helps

Jack

November 12, 2013 at 1:23 pm PST
#11  Br Jay Rivera FFV - PEMBROKE PINES, Florida

I have heard it said "Perception is everything." I'm not sure how often this is true, so I won't try to refute or defend it. But I understand where some people are coming from regarding the Holy Father.

Having said this, I must say that because I am very traditional I feel very comfortable with the Holy Father's style.

One of the deficits in the Church today is that many religious have jettisoned their charism out the window and have replaced the vision of their founder with their own. The charisms of the different religious institutes are as much a part of tradition as the Tridentine mass.

Pope Francis' style is very Ignatian, which is very appropriate for a Jesuit religious. One thing that many people forget is that the Code of 1983 changed the law regarding religious who were ordained bishop. Those religious who are ordained bishops remain full members of their religious institutes, even though they are passive members. In other words, their moral obligations to their vows, the vision and the spirit of the their founder is not dispensed with episcopal ordination. Those things that are dispensed are things that would make it difficult, if not impossible for the bishop to exercise his ministry.

If we apply this to the Bishop of Rome, in this case, he remains a Jesuit. Anyone who has been paying close attention to Pope Francis will have heard him refer to himself as a Jesuit on a number of occasions after his election, will have noticed that he went to the Jesuit mother-house to celebrate the Solemnity of St. Ignatius. He spoke about the relationship of obedience between the Jesuit superior general and the pope, but also of his relationship to the superior general.

If we observe his preaching very closely, it always makes use of Ignatian pedagogy and the themes are right out the writings of Ignatius and the spiritual exercises.

His preference for simplicity is a Jesuit trait. They have always been very simple in their external appearance to the point that they never wore a habit, but dressed as secular priests to avoid being singled out.

We have to accept that part of what makes Pope Francis different from Pope John Paul or Pope Benedict is that these two were secular men and this pope is a consecrated religious. He comes to the papacy with an identity that transcends beyond Jorge Mario Bergoglio. It is an identity rooted in a tradition that is very much a part of the Church and that the Church has deemed that it meets all of the necessary requirements to help its members save their souls. Why ask a Jesuit to become a secular priest or in this case a secular pope?

It's been more than 150 years since a religious has occupied the Chair of Peter. But if we go back, we will find that each time a religious was elected pope, he introduced something to the papacy from his religious tradition. The most visible innovation would have been by Pope Pius V who introduced the off white Dominican habit that gave birth to the off-white cassock worn by popes after him in honor of his memory, except by popes from other orders that is.

Had Cardinal Sean O'Malley been elected he had said himself when asked what he would wear that he would wear his brown Capuchin Friar's habit and sandals. Imagine the image problem this would have caused for some "traditional" Catholics. Yet, it would have been perfectly appropriate.

Maybe, we have to look at Pope Francis not just as pope, but as Pope Francis, SJ. and as we appreciate what this means, we should help others appreciate it as well.

That's what I've been doing among my friends and acquaintances who are surprised at his style and surprised at his spontaneity. My answer is simple. "He's a Jesuit. That's how they speak and that's how they do things, because it's Ignatius' way." If people ask me to explain, I do so. I have some people actually change their mind about how they see this pope and begin to realize that he's much more grounded in tradition than people think.

November 16, 2013 at 3:23 am PST

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