Lost Screwtape Letter I

My dearest nephew,

You praise yourself for the patient's only having considered His priesthood for - and I quote - "a mere fifteen days" as if that was something of which you should be proud.  I find this news not only greatly disappointing regarding you specifically, but exceedingly worrisome concerning all the tempters of the Enemy's children.  Have you and your kin become so complacent due to our recent successes that it does not occur to you how dangerously naive such a thought is to our cause?  Granted, it is certainly true that our successes of late have been not only numerous, but, even more importantly, pervasive, but there is no time to rest on our laurels.  You are not alone in thinking that the tide has swung in our favor - a fact which is still being debated in the lowest circles - but all of us, and especially a demon such as yourself who can not claim numerous or even noteworthy successes, must keep in mind that this is a complex war, a war with billions of individual yet interconnected fronts.

As for the patient, not only did you claim a victory where you should have admitted defeat, but I have heard from a fellow tempter who works in the same circle as you that you have failed your duty in multiple ways.  Anthropos mentioned in his last communiqué that you did not even enter the confessional with your charge.  I was aghast!  That is when you need to put forth your greatest effort, not your least.  I will readily admit that I was, while certainly not pleased, not wholly displeased to read that you have been able to keep him from receiving the sacrament of reconciliation more than two or three times a year, but due to your not entering with him, he confessed sins he deliberately hadn't for many years.  As successful as you had been in that regard, it was all for naught.  None of the Enemy's children are ours until the moment of death.  You must never forget this.  He is always reaching out to them, and it is only through constant vigilance and action that we will keep this fact from becoming a realization.

Before I end this missive, I must go back to the original topic and stress my disappointment in you.  The gulf between considering the Enemy's priesthood and otherwise is wide and deep.  Immensely so, and far more than you realize if your attitude is as cavalier as you implied.  The possibility of someone becoming an active apostle of His alarms me, and should you.  Now that he has crossed that gulf, it will be an order of magnitude easier for him to cross it again in the future.  Even if he doesn't - and by Satan may he not! - the fact that he did it even once means that he is more likely to hear the Enemy's voice.  Not that even that would necessarily keep him from our grasp, but at best it would make your task more difficult, and could easily make those of your fellow tempters more difficult as well.

I realize you may think that I am criticizing you unfairly as this patient is not a trivial case, but other demons have had success with far more challenging - and influential - cases.  Like all the Enemy's children, this one is fairly predictable, but you never know when he may accept the grace that is always being offered to him, even the smallest grain of which can cause your plans to run afoul if you are not attentive.  Always strive to imitate Our Father Below, who is able to affect even those closest to the Enemy.

Your affectionate uncle

//  as far as i'm concerned, c.s.lewis is nothing short of a genius with words, and while i think i did fairly well, there's no comparison with his letters.

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