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Resisting the Prowling Lion – Day 10

Resisting the Prowling Lion – 40 Days with Screwtape

Day 10 – Saturday after 1st Sunday of Lent

To Read:

From The Screwtape Letters:

Screwtape, a senior demon, is offering advice to Wormwood his nephew, an apprentice demon.  The language he uses is ‘upside down’ referring to God as ‘the Enemy’ and the devil as ‘Our Father Below’.


As regards his more general attitude to the war, you must not rely too much on those feelings of hatred which the humans are so fond of discussing in Christian, or anti-Christian, periodicals.   In his anguish, the patient can, of course, be encouraged to revenge himself by some vindictive feelings directed towards the German leaders, and that is good so far as it goes.   But it is usually a sort of melodramatic or mythical hatred directed against imaginary scapegoats.   He has never met these people in real life – they are clay figures modelled on what he gets from newspapers.   The results of such fanciful hatred are often most disappointing, and of all humans the English are in this respect the most deplorable milksops.   They are creatures of that miserable sort who loudly proclaim that torture is too good for their enemies and then give tea and cigarettes to the first wounded German pilot who turns up at the back door.

Do what you will, there is going to be some benevolence, as well as some malice, in your patient’s soul.   The great thing is to direct the malice to his immediate neighbours whom he meets every day and to thrust his benevolence out to the remote circumference, to people he does not know.   The malice thus becomes wholly real and the benevolence largely imaginary.   There is no good at all in inflaming his hatred of Germans if, at the same time, a pernicious habit of charity is growing up between him and his mother, his employer, and the man he meets in the train.

Your affectionate uncle


To Reflect:

Hands up if you would own up to being a ‘most deplorable milksop’?  I know I am.  I would hope also that I am given over to ‘pernicious habits of charity’. 

I also admit the truth that I find it easier to be charitable to the scoundrel of a drunkard who leans on the Rectory doorbell in the early hours of the morning than to remember to be gentle and caring towards the family and friends with which God has blessed me…..

Why do I allow this to happen?  I know I should care equally for both but it seems so much easier to give things away to strangers (perversely the less ‘deserving’ they seem to be the more generous I become) than it is to be careful and kind to my children and my brother, my aunts and my cousins.

To care for those close to me costs less and helps build a more comfortable life – caring for the waifs and stray of society takes a great deal of time and energy, is often extremely uncomfortable, and brings little reward in this life.  Yet I run to care for the outsider and expect those near at hand to care for me even if I am not always diligent in my care for them!

The great thing Screwtape tells Wormwood ‘is to direct the malice to his immediate neighbours whom he meets every day and to thrust his benevolence out to the remote circumference, to people he does not know’.  Caught out again Andrew!

I know I find it easy to care for the outcasts, the enemy, the stranger, because I have learnt to look for the reflection of the face of the One who loves me best in their downcast eyes and grubby countenance.  But to see the face of Christ in the pout of the fractious child or the groans of the awkward aunt is, for me, a different matter altogether.  However, just because I can’t see Jesus in a particular place or person has never meant that He is not there.  With Bartimaeus my cry must become ‘Master, I want to see.’

…and in seeing clearly for the first time give myself over wholeheartedly to the ‘pernicious habit of charity’.

To Do:

Turn and turn about time:

The next time you perform and act of charity for a stranger follow it with a caring act to a family member.


The next time you care for a family member follow it with an act of charity towards a stranger.

A Psalm To Ponder:

Psalm 41 –  WHO CONDEMNS

Refrain:        with judgment and mercy, O God, redeem us in the light of your eyes.

Blessed are those who care for the poor and the helpless, 

who are kind to the outcast within them.

God will deliver them in the day of their trouble, 

rescuing the child who is battered and torn.

God will guard them and preserve their life: 

they shall be counted as blessed in the land.     Refrain:

O God, you will not give us over to the will of our enemies, 

to hatred within and blame without.

In the day of our calamity you will sustain us, 

as warring turbulence threatens our life.     Refrain:

Dear God, be merciful towards me, 

heal me for I have sinned against you.

My enemies, within and without, speak evil of me: 

“When will you die and your name perish for ever?”     Refrain:

They mouth empty words when they see me, 

and mischief stirs in their hearts.

They talk among themselves in the street, 

whispering suspicion against me.     Refrain:

They smile at the revealing of my sins, 

gloating in triumph at my downfall, 

cackling like demons that claw at me, 

plucking me down in the mire.     Refrain:

“You are wracked with a deadly disease, 

you will not rise again from where you lie.”

Even my bosom friend whom I have trusted, 

who shared my bread, looks own on me.     Refrain:

O God, come down and raise me up, 

struggling from the pit in anger and truth, 

wrestling with my enemies in my love for them, 

dependent together on mercy.

So shall we know that you delight in us, 

setting us before your face for ever.     Refrain:

Cleanse my whole being that I may see truly, 

that revenge may not brood in my heart.

Keep me from believing all strangers are hostile, 

let me see with the eyes of compassion.     Refrain:

May I think good of those who strive against me, 

however full of malice seem their hearts.

Heap burning coals of love on our heads: 

melt our fears with the flame of your desire.     Refrain:

Burn out from us all that breeds evil, 

that we may no longer hunt or destroy.

May we follow the way of justice, 

and be redeemed to your glory and joy.     Refrain:

Blessed be God, 

the God of all peoples, 

at all times and all places, 

now and for ever.     Refrain:

Merciful God, prone as we are to blame others and to hate ourselves, take from our eyes the dust that blinds us, that we may treat one another by the light of your compassion, and in the Spirit of Jesus Christ who is the Light of the world.  AMEN.

(Jim Cotter)



Please Note:  These reflections are also published on my blog: suffolkvicarhomes.com on Twitter as @SuffolkVicar, and on my public Facebook page Rev Andrew Dotchin

If you would like them as a daily email please send a request to vicar@felixparish.com


Quotes from The Screwtape Letters are copyright © 1942 C.S. Lewis Pte

Prayers from Psalms for a Pilgrim People are copyright © 1989, 1991, 1993 Jim Cotter

Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

These Reflections,  ‘Resisting the Prowling Lion’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2023

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