#ProwlingLion · Bible Study · Church of England · Felixstowe · Growing in God · Lent · poem · Prayer · Screwtape

Resisting the Prowling Lion – Day 39 – Good Friday

Resisting the Prowling Lion – 40 Days with Screwtape

Day 39 – Good Friday

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’.


They, of course, do tend to regard death as the prime evil and survival as the greatest good.   But that is because we have taught them to do so.   Do not let us be infected by our own propaganda.   I know it seems strange that your chief aim at the moment should be the very same thing for which the patient’s lover and his mother are praying – namely his bodily safety.   But so it is; you should be guarding him like the apple of your eye.  If he dies now, you lose him.   If he survives the war, there is always hope.   The Enemy has guarded him from you through the first great wave of temptations.   But, if only he can be kept alive, you have time itself for your ally.   The long, dull monotonous years of middle-aged prosperity or middle-aged adversity are excellent campaigning weather.   You see, it is so hard for these creatures to persevere.   The routine of adversity, the gradual decay of youthful loves and youthful hopes, the quiet despair (hardly felt as pain) of ever overcoming the chronic temptations with which we have again and again defeated them, the drabness which we create in their lives and the inarticulate resentment with which we teach them to respond to it – all this provides admirable opportunities of wearing out a soul by attrition.   If, on the other hand, the middle years prove prosperous, our position is even stronger.   Prosperity knits a man to the World.   He feels that he is ‘finding his place in it’, while really it is finding its place in him.   His increasing reputation, his widening circle of acquaintances, his sense of importance, the growing pressure of absorbing and agreeable work, build up in him a sense of being really at home in earth which is just what we want.   You will notice that the young are generally less unwilling to die than the middle-aged and the old.

The truth is that the Enemy, having oddly destined these mere animals to life in His own eternal world, has guarded them pretty effectively from the danger of feeling at home anywhere else.   That is why we must often wish long life to our patients; seventy years is not a day too much for the difficult task of unravelling their souls from Heaven and building up a firm attachment to the earth.

Your affectionate uncle


To Reflect:

‘To die’ says Peter Pan‘would be an awfully big adventure’.

Screwtape in cautioning Wormwood, who is losing his grip on his patient, is eager to warn the young tempter of the finality of death.  If the tempter does not prolong the earthly life of his patient he reduces his opportunity to lure him to an eternal death.

Of course Screwtape never means that Wormwood should encourage the patient to enjoy life, heaven forefend – or should that be ‘hell’ forefend?  An enjoyable life, a rich life full of true joy, love and happiness would be at odds with his purposes.  What is desired is a long boring life.  What Screwtape needs is a life with a host of little failings overflowing with compromise.  A ‘safe’ life that ends up being sensible and expects disappointment as its fruit.  No, the ‘awfully big adventure’ of the death which the ever-young Peter Pan sets out to live is of no use to those below which is why Screwtape bemoans…

You will notice that the young are generally less unwilling to die than the middle-aged and the old.

No, what is good for Screwtape and bad for us is ennui and a gradual wearing down of the soul into a state of ‘why bother?’ which fulfils ahead of our physical death the promise standing over the doorway to hell itself ‘Abandon Hope all ye who Enter Here.

Teaching us to ‘fit in’ and see failure as the norm and despair as the common lot is the tempter’s aim.  Teach the humans to believe that life is about this world and chasing worldly success is the name of the game.  When we give in to this those below start sharpening their knives as death approaches and a feast of human souls is expected.  ‘Get them really into the world and then we can tuck into them’,  Screwtape counsels. 

Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that he is “finding his place in it”, while really it is finding its place in him

Instead we must remember that death is what is meant to be and learn to look forward to the ‘awfully big adventure’ which will finally bring us to a home ‘not made with hands,’ a mansion prepared for us by the death of the Beloved on a cross.

This quote from a Christian staring death in the face during the same war when Screwtape wrote his letters has for almost my entire journey home taught me of the ‘awfully big adventure’ towards which we move.  The same death that the One Who Loves us Best transformed on this ‘Good’ Friday…


Come now, thou greatest of feasts on the journey to freedom eternal;  

death, cast aside all the burdensome chains, and demolish the walls of our temporal body, the walls of our souls that are blinded,  

so that at last we may see that which here remains hidden. 

Freedom, how long we have sought thee in discipline, action, and suffering;  

dying, we now may behold thee revealed in the Lord.

(Part of  ‘Stations on the Road to Freedom – Dietrich Bonhoeffer: 

Written in 1945 from Tegel prison a few months before his execution)

To Do:

Today – do nothing other than say ‘Thank you’ many, many times.

A Psalm To Ponder:


Refrain:        Alleluia!  Praise to the God in whom death is no more.

You have heard, O God, the strains of my distress, 

even the silent crying of my heart.

I love you because your ear inclined to me, 

I know you were there for me in the day of my trouble.     Refrain:

The cords of death entangled me;

the snares of the grave held me fast.

Tentacles wrapped themselves round me, 

crushing me to anguish and pain.     Refrain:

Desperate for air I called out;

Help me.  Deliver me. Rescue me.

my strength is sapped, my energy draining away.

With my last breath I cried out in panic.     Refrain:

In your healing compassion you came to me, 

with the kiss of life reviving me.

At my very last gasp you held me, 

you snatched me from the jaws of the grave.     Refrain:

You delivered me from the stronghold of death, 

you wiped the tears from my eyes, 

you saved my feet from stumbling, 

and I walked free in the land of the living.     Refrain:

How can I ever repay you, O God,

for all the gifts of your gracious love?

I will lift high the cup of salvation, 

and give thanks for your holy name.     Refrain:

From time to time you rescue me, O God, 

by the skills of your people, by means unknown.

You come to me in the guise of strangers, 

I am humbled by their willingness to care.     Refrain:

But what of the people who perish?

What of the children who are wasting away?

Can you save us through the days of our dying, 

through the river of no return?     Refrain:

Yet you are the God not of death but of life, 

no power can withstand the power of your love.

All that frightens us shrivels in your path, 

the trail that was blazed by the Pioneer.

Living Christ, decisive clue to the Love that has no end, renew in us the steady hope that even the power of death cannot keep from your presence.     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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s