Dear Master Thugfang, my patient is 10 years old. He is in absolutely the worst home situation you can imagine. His parents are monogamous and even happy. They actively catechize their children. He and his siblings are homeschooled, he is an altar boy, a choir boy, a straight-A student, a natural athlete, he willingly gives his money to the missions, and he even voluntarily goes to Mass on weekdays to serve. I am afraid he might be thinking of the priesthood. The little rat positively makes me wish I had a stomach so I could vomit. I ask you, haven’t I been put in a false position? I have been given the worst possible scenario, and the Lowerarchy keeps denying my requests for transfer. They tell me I had better turn this around or face the consequences. It is not fair.
Yours Truly, Much Put Upon
My Dear Much Put Upon,
You should have signed yourself “Much Melodrama!” I see nothing in your case that would warrant a transfer. I see a good deal that sounds like an appeal to justice, which is heavily frowned upon in these circles. I should curb that if I were you. No, results are what we want, not fairness.
On the whole, I cannot understand what you are carrying on about, as if this were an aberration. From the Enemy’s point of view, this situation is the norm, and it is only our constant work which makes it less common than it otherwise would be.
Even granted his unfortunate situation, the picture is nothing like so black as you paint it. Of course you are not a Master of Defense Against the White Arts, but you have had the sense to ask one for help. Here, then, is the situation as I see it. Your patient has been given advantages. We try to keep these advantages from the humans, but sometimes they slip through. So we have to think what use we can make of them. There are numerous methods for tempting at the foot of the altar, but at present your patient is immune to most of them because he is ten years old. His character is not fully formed. Therefore he hasn’t fully chosen his faith yet. You say he “voluntarily” goes to serve Masses on weekdays? I would bet that a good deal of that is because the grown-ups applaud him when he does. It sounds like there might be a bit of vanity, perhaps the flare for acting holy, a touch? This is not to undermine the seriousness of these habits. Right now, there is certainly much real childlike faith and you can bet the Enemy’s agent is working on that. But also (very likely) there is at least some acting going on. In the natural scheme of things, that is simply how the humans learn, but we make it unnatural. You must subtly encourage the actor. Get him to concentrate more and more on what he thinks his parents want, so that later on, in his teen years, none of his “faith” will be his at all.
And of course, he is ten. Very shortly puberty will be coming to your aid. Let’s get a head start on that, shall we? I assume his parents don’t have any pornography lying around the house, (then again, you might want to check the father’s computer. That would be a gold mine. Your work would be almost done for you.) Still even if you can’t get any porn into his hands from the outside, you can still start him off with those lingerie ads in the back of the Sears catalogs. But just getting him to look at women is not enough. That’s amateur work. He would do that without your input. The real master’s touch is to turn the natural sex drive away from relationship, and in on itself. To that end you want it insulated behind layers and layers of shame, and that begins as early as possible. Get the father’s handler working now to make him so embarrassed about the whole subject that instead of sitting the boy down and talking about it with him, the parents will simply cover his eyes and hustle him away from even the slightest hint of sexuality. No explanation, no moral guidance, and certainly no teaching about the beauty and truth of the Enemy’s plan. Just a hush-hush, “That’s bad! Don’t look.” Their refusal to speak will heighten the “forbidden fruit” feel of it. How we use that depends upon his personality. If he is stubborn and independent, this will guarantee he will find out on his own from outside sources, and we control most of those sources. If he is pliant and sweet natured, he will remain ignorant and fearful. Either way this will ensure that the parents will be the last people he will come to for help when he figures out he needs it. His natural curiosity will be shoved into the shadows just when a little light would be the really healthy thing, and a nasty little habit can grow in the background of our fellow’s otherwise picture perfect life. Don’t expect it to bear fruit right away, but keep harping away at the shame and secrecy. You’ll see results sooner or later.
And keep him away from the damned confessional! No light! Everything must remain in darkness. If he must go, make sure he goes to a priest of your choosing.
As for him “thinking about the priesthood!” What the Heaven do you mean by that? Of course he is thinking about the priesthood. Next week he’ll be thinking about being a doctor. The week after that he’ll want to be a dinosaur. He is ten years old! I suppose you’ve been listening to his dear old Aunt Tilly (why do they always have one?), who thinks her nephew is so saintly looking in his cassock and surplice, and is just certain that The Enemy is going to “call him” to be a priest. Blast those Pia Donna’s with their rosaries and their masses and their blockheaded sweetness. I hate them all. I want to smash all of them to oblivion.
Incidentally, there you can see an example of the first spiritual maxim. We can turn Aunt Tilly’s voice to serve our ends. She herself may (or may not) be completely lost in The Enemy’s camp, but we can still use her. Again, if the boy is an independent, stubborn soul we teach the adorable young acolyte to hate and despise every flutter of gushing affection, and by extension, hate every vocational hint she throws at him. We can do the same with vocational directors, youth ministers, pre-seminary recruiters (Oh the success stories we’ve had with those!) They may be lost to us (or maybe not) but we can still use them. Raw material, my dear Put Upon. Get it through your dull wits.
On the other claw, if the boy is the sweet, people-pleasing child I guess him to be, we can build up in his pre-adolescent mind the subtle awareness that everyone around him expects him to be a priest. The weight of those expectations can then be used later on, either to force him into the priesthood with three bags full of hidden resentment, or to rebel and run a hundred miles an hour in the opposite direction. It doesn’t matter which. You’ll be able to improvise at that point.
Incidentally, have you contacted the parents’ handlers at all? If I were you, I should have a conference with them and get your strategy well sorted out. You don’t want any humility or forbearance on the parent’s parts making your job any more difficult. Better they be hell-driven by fear of their precious little angel ever making the slightest mistake in his life. They ought to think that his every choice reflects directly upon them as parents, and to seek to direct those choices accordingly. Right now, of course, that is natural, but what you really want their handlers doing is setting up a habit of increasing rather than lessening supervision. Then in the teen years and early twenties you’ll see the fruit of your labors. Exactly when they should be learning detachment, let them be ravenously enforcing attachment. Do not let them simply sit back and watch and pray. Whatever you do, do not let them entrust him to The Enemy’s care. You want them on his back.
No doubt about it, your patient is snugly entrenched within the enemy’s territory. He will be defended. Rescuing him is tricky and dangerous, but worth it in the end. You simply must never rest for a moment. There is no rest in Hell. Did you think you were there for a vacation? Get to it, and if the parents’ handlers are not doing their jobs, send me their numbers and I shall see to them.