Editor’s Note: On the occasion of the Year of Faith, the following is the second in a series of “letters” from a demonic supervisor to his underling regarding a plan to dismantle a family and ruin souls, written by Mike Phelan, director of the Marriage and Respect Life Office of the Diocese of Phoenix. In this series of fictional letters, keep in mind that the letters are written by a fictional demon. Therefore his “likes” are a horror and the Enemy he refers to is God Himself. All the while, the Guardian Angels of the family are battling in ways mostly hidden both to us the readers and to the devils for the family’s strength and salvation.
My Friend, Gluestick,
Your first month with the Barr family, hidden in the shadows of the kitchen junk drawer (an excellent choice of observing posts — the stomach-driven animals spend so much time there), has been a moderately successful start. You might make a middling Domestic Temptation Anti-choir Director (DTAD) yet, if your Disastermas Morning initial report was accurate.
Thanks to some apparent coordination on your part, the Barrs find themselves entering the New Year in greater financial debt than ever before. One of the few benefits to us of this whole giving extravaganza each December is that the little moles overspend with regularity. While it takes some time to understand fully — we demons have no need of cash — the delightful anxiety that financial problems and economic concerns cause can be of great service. A spouse or parent in debt has a chain around his neck that drags his eyes downward, from heaven to earth, right where we want them.
Let us recover some basics of your homebound task of temptation. The review here may seem pedantic to you; you assume that all must have been covered in your initial debrief — let me assure you that we mentor-devils find that the fundamentals of our soul-capturing efforts cannot be repeated often enough. This is especially the case with you younger devils, if I may add, who have the attention span of houseflies. And NO, you may not TEXT me your future reports!
Your new work of temptation is tricky, but most rewarding upon success. The dismantling of a human family, which greatly aids (never guarantees — the family is a means to an end, both for Us and for Them) the ultimate damnation of as many of the members as possible, you will see, proves remarkably slippery. Look closely from your position in the kitchen. When the family is together — indeed, strangely, “when two or more are present” — do you not see the nearly impossible cobweb linking them all? It is a web of rooted affection, unlike any other source of natural comfort the humans have. You not only must gain intimate knowledge of the personalities, strengths and weaknesses of each family member, but you must take account of each thread of this web — you will particularly notice, if the family has any health at all, the seeming tangle emanating from the wife/mother to her husband and to each child in a hundred places. What a tangled web family love weaves! But this seems to be our Enemy’s plan.
I will never forget my own first family temptation assignment. The complexity of the linking cables nearly drove me to despair. It was patient work, but both spouses have joined the eternal wailing throng, and the children seem readily on their way to our House Below. A DTAD that proves himself worthy must become an orchestra conductor of the first rate, each of your underling tempters must be a violinist on these “relational cords”.
Your enemies in the home, the assigned Guardian Angels of each family member, do not lack for cleverness or assistance from Him directly. (It is not fair play!) The Guardian Angels seek to build a harmony on the relational chords between the members, and even following our discordant victories with sin, even when a key thread between husband and wife seems ready to break(!), we can lose due to the problem of forgiveness, an awful musical chord that can drive a devil mad.
That will wait for next time, when my counsel focuses on our main obstacle to victory over every family, the abomination of marriage.