Gargoyle Code 2

Another fragment of a message from the Gargoyle has been intercepted, de-coded and translated:

…should any of the vermin attempt to fast during this period they call Lent, you may think it right to tempt them with the thing they have vowed to give up. Sometimes this works, but more often it is counterproductive. Remember Hogwart, while they are disgustingly physical, you should not mistake their repulsive hairy physicalness with stupidity.

Should you tempt the patient who has given up chocolate with chocolate fudge cake with hot fudge topping he will probably spot it straight away and sidestep. If he gives in and eats the chocolate cake you will feel pleased with yourself. Don’t. Your patient (if he is even the tiniest bit serious about fasting) will instantly realize he has broken his vow, and repent. Any repentance is to be regretted enormously, but your amateurish attempts will actually be counter productive because not only will your patient repent, he will turn back to his fasting with renewed determination.

Try instead to focus his mind on the actual process of fasting. Remind him all the time that he actually is fasting, and how difficult it is. With luck he will focus so much on fasting that he will forget to pray. If possible get him to tell others about his fast. Get him to compare his austerities with theirs (and for badness sake, don’t allow him to compare with someone who actually fasts more rigorously than he does or you might spark off the beginnings of humility in your patient). As you keep his mind on his fasting, remind him how good it is to concentrate on what he’s doing. With some patience you will soon be able to develop the beginnings of some nice self righteousness, and with skill over time you may be able to develop your patient into a full blown Pharisaical prig. There is no harm in him fasting twice a week on bread and water if you can get him to be proud of it. Ah, the bittersweet taste of really good self righteousness! They never make a main course, but they do make a very fine dessert.

…to be continued

  • Mac McLernon

    LOL Fr Dwight… you should write all of these up for a Screwtape follow-up!!

  • Kevin O’Brien

    Excellent, Fr. Dwight! And a perfect stylistic match. Encore!

  • Dcn Scott Dodge

    It is funny that I stumbled on to your blog and read this post today! Suffice it to say that, in addition to finding it entertaining, it helped me enormously.