Notes on How Not to Be a Saint



We at The American Catholic often receive unsolicited manuscripts.  What follows is from a lengthy collection of documents, smelling faintly of brimstone, that purport to be the notes of a Mr. Wormwood taken while he was attending a class colorfully entitled Damnation 201.  The documents are dated, but the dates given are gibberish:

Ah, Sleek Sylph looks especially delicious.  Oof, Professor Thornbit is saying this could be on the final.  Concentrate Wormwood!

Thornbit:  After what mortals call death patients who escape our clutches are designated Saints by the Enemy.  The penalty for a tempter allowing a patient to become a Saint is as final as it is terrible, albeit succulent for those of us who gain sustenance from those of you who prove incompetent.  Here are ten simple rules to prevent you from ending up on my table.

1. Encourage your patient to violate those laws the Enemy calls his Ten Commandments.  Emphasize to the patient that these are unmerciful rules that do not allow for the complexity of life.  You will find, at least those of you who are not a waste of Hellfire, that the term “complexity” is ever useful in causing a patient to ignore the clear commands of the Enemy.

2.  Most patients, ludicrously, are proud of their intellects.  Encourage the cretins in this, as one of the few true human sayings is that “pride goeth before a fall.”

3.  If you can, make your patient an atheist;   the shock of such patients when they arrive here is an amusement that is indescribable.  Take care however, some who claim atheism merely hate the Enemy and the Enemy has a way of turning strong hate into strong love in an instant if you are not careful.  Also, make certain that your patient embraces atheism as a substitute religion and not as a proposition that he may rethink given evidence to the contrary.  The Enemy and his agents are too cursed good at argument, and in providing evidence, against the useful absurdity of atheism.

4.  The patient should be taught to regard every mortal he encounters as a potential victim for him to exploit.  Although humans tend to be selfish animals, this isn’t as simple as it sounds.  Honest affection and even love can spring from the most unlikely of mortals if his tempter is not ever vigilant.

5.  Sexual excess, especially if channeled into what the Enemy considers perversions, can be a useful aid to propel a patient along our Downward Path.  However, lazy tempters view this as a foolproof temptation at their peril.  That abomination that the Enemy calls love can spring from the most wonderfully sordid sexual entanglements if the tempter of a patient does not take proper precautions.

6.  If your patient is religious, make certain that the religion he follows is on the approved list of faiths that are working unknowingly in Our Father’s cause.  Needless to say, we have severe  penalties for tempters who have patients who embrace the other faiths not on the list.  However, every faith can be transformed from worship of the Enemy into a form of self worship if the tempter is clever enough.

7.  The mortals have a wonderful expression, “Looking out for number one.”  Make certain that your patient is a monument to human selfishness by the time he dies.

8.  Humans have a very useful proclivity for making excuses for themselves while holding others to the strictest of standards.  Encourage this form of self-deception unceasingly.

9.  If you can’t quite get your patient to hate the Enemy and his neighbor, a usually sufficient fallback position is to have him ignore both.

10.  Humans nearing death often have an all too clear view of how badly they have lived their lives, and the terrible event called repentance can occur, snatching soul food out of our very claws.  Always remember that the proper tactic is to convince your patient either that repentance is no use, because his, what the Enemy calls sins, are too great, or that repentance is not necessary because the Enemy will save him from Our Father’s House no matter what.  The last belief has become quite popular among humans as of late, to the vast amusement of all Hell.

Read the next 500,000 pages of Lucifer’s A Guide to Perplex, prior to the next class, and remember that your papers on Postmodern Damnation are due at the close of that class.  Class dismissed.


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  1. #4 invites an unnecessary risk. If the patient thinks of every person as a potential victim, he may be tempted to not exploit him. After all, advantage need not be taken. The lion with the full belly can relax around a gazelle. But a gazelle can never relax around a lion: if the patient thinks that, in every encounter, he may be a victim of another’s exploitation, he will have his guard up at all times.

    In either case, the goal is the same: the patient treating each person encountered as an object rather than a person. However, if the patient thinks of himself as a potential victim, he can label his attitude “justice” and never think of repenting it.

  2. #1 “Unmerciful rules” – Sounds all too familiar among post-modern hierarchy and clerics.
    The enemies of God and man want to somehow convince man that Satan and evil don’t exist, or were nullified by . . . I know! Vatican II!! Er, the Spirit of Vat . . .
    Another pitfall would be the false impression that man is good. Christ tells us that only God is good. God’s only begotten Son by His life death, and resurrection purchased for man the rewards of eternal life. Christ made man’s salvation possible not automatic. Christ’s life, death and resurrection did not make man good. Man is fallen and a sinner and must constantly avoid temptation and constantly pray for forgiveness and grace/strength.

  3. Thanks Donald. As T. Shaw says a lot of this sounds like ideas coming from the clergy especially the recent Synod.

    Screwtape has made much progress over the years # 10 especially: “Always remember that the proper tactic is to convince your patient….that repentance is not necessary because the Enemy will save him from Our Father’s House no matter what. “

  4. Very good.
    I may be wrong, but I don’t think Lewis’s Wormwood warned his nephew of the hazard presented to them by the Virgin Mary especially in those final moments. If not, it would be a great addition to this type of continuation of a theme.

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