Stewardship and “Screwtape” — A Message for Halloween!

Trick or Treat

Imagine a stranger coming to your door, making demands accompanied by threats. Worse, he’s wearing a disguise. The night is dark, the moon hidden by fall leaves still clinging to the trees. What a terrifying scenario.

But, wait! It’s October 31, and the strangers are very small. They’re disguised as little Batmen and ballerinas, pirates and princesses, and their demands and threats are accompanied by tiny “pleases” and “thank yous.” It’s Halloween, and it’s actually a magical scenario.

A great deal of life is framed by our perceptions, isn’t it? How we approach a situation, whether we see a threat or a promise, a trick, or perhaps a treat, depends so much on our own attitude and the honesty we bring to our lives.

In his classic book, The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis portrays a senior devil, Screwtape, as a bureaucrat who is mentoring a young devil named Wormwood in how to be a tricky enemy of humanity. Screwtape knows that one of the best ways to seduce people to evil is to persuade them to rationalize their choices. The more dishonesty Screwtape can help us finagle into our reasoning, the more successful the devil’s enterprise.

How we approach a situation, whether we see a threat or a promise, a trick, or perhaps a treat, depends so much on our own attitude and the honesty we bring to our lives.

It’s a great book for stewardship reading because it makes us reexamine our own perceptions of evil and good in our lives. “I think I should stay home from Mass this morning. God knows I really need the rest.” “I don’t really have any talents to offer my parish in this year’s ministry sign-ups.” “I earned this money and it’s mine. What I do with it is my business.”

Screwtape would probably be very pleased with those rationalizations. They help us to “trick” ourselves into accepting a false scenario. This timeless book by C.S. Lewis helps us understand the varying methods that the devil uses to keep Christians shallow in their faith and disconnected from God. As the Apostle Peter writes in 1 Peter 5:8-9: “Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith…”

If you want to give yourself a “treat” for Halloween, pick up a copy of The Screwtape Letters and see how it relates to your own life. You can order here through Amazon Smile, sending a donation to your parish family!