Hogwart, I write in haste; my conservative Catholic patient has been diagnosed with cancer, and suddenly all my good work is threatened. Not only is he panicking, but he knows he is panicking. He is starting to think that his religiosity is not good enough, and he has started to re-read that book on the so-called ‘healing ministry.’ What I hate most about the degrading little beasts is their unpredictability. Just when you think you have them nailed down they slither out of your grip…and they call us ‘serpentine’!
I wanted to give you a few more pointers in this troublesome tradition of theirs called prayer. The Catholic patients have something called ‘The Liturgy of the Hours’. This is an ancient collection of prayers, hymns and readings from their favorite authors. It is a most revolting collection of sentimental nonsense, archaic fol-do-rol and obtuse theological clap trap. The vast majority of the stuff is no more than second rate, out dated Hebrew poetry. (How I hate that swarthy race of brutes. If only our German servants in the last century had finished the job!)
You must never let your patient get started with what is called liturgical prayer. If he does he will have to develop discipline, expand his mind and learn to like something greater than himself. This in itself is bad enough, but that he should do so through the words and thoughts of the Enemy’s greatest agents is unthinkable. The other danger is that he will turn to a source outside himself for the words of prayer. This is to be avoided at all costs. You do not want him to find an objective ground for his faith. Keep him focussed on his own feelings and thoughts.
Make sure the words ‘Liturgy of the Hours’ sounds arcane, antique and medieval to him. (and by the way, make sure the word ‘medieval’ is synonymous with torture, plague and ‘the Dark Ages’) If he should open one of the books make sure it is the biggest and most daunting. Direct him to one with lots of colored ribbons. Make him think that he would never learn how to use such a vast and daunting volume. Remind him that such ‘prayer’ is boring and that ‘real’ prayer is ‘just talking to the Lord.’ As long as he is only using his own banal words and thoughts he is unlikely to do more than talk to himself, all along thinking that he is talking to God. With any luck you will be able to keep him in this mode of ‘prayer’ until he really believes that in talking to himself he is talking to God. This is one of the neatest ways to make your patient believe he is God without ever realizing it.
Hogwart, while I wasn’t looking my conservative Catholic patient has phoned his parish priest for an appointment! This is undoubtedly the work of the enemy agent assigned to him. I wish I could see the feathered do gooder. I know the sneaky pest is there, but whenever I try to get a glimpse of him he sends off one of his rays of unbearable light. It hurts Hogwart. It burns and I don’t like it. The unfeeling beasts resort to torture every chance they get. What makes it worse is that this patient could slip through my fingers at the last moment, and then what will happen to me? I’ll be demoted and end up as a bus driver on one of those boring outings the Enemy allows all those who should be ours forever.
It’s battle stations for me Hogwart!