Well! This is a bit of development.It appears that the Obfuscator replied to Thugfang’s advice column on confession. After doing a little digging, it appears that Thugfang actually replied to the Obfuscator’s comment. Of course he would. Someone that arrogant couldn’t resist. Naturally he wouldn’t reply in his regular column, but I managed to get my hands on the correspondence and am sharing it with you, because I think the question was quite good and really did see something the old devil missed. Might have been wiser not to point it out, though. So here it is, the correspondence of the unfortunate Obfuscator.
Dear Master Thugfang, Your well thought out tricks and traps will definitely be
reread over the next while. There is much there to be applied with my Catholic
patient, and I am beginning immediately. I am also looking forward to your
additional column on post-confesson attacks.
However, through analyzing
my patient before and after he goes to confession I have begun to realize why I
have been having difficulty. It is due to the one question that you touched on
briefly at the beginning of you letter, “How does confession work?” As you said,
it is total nonsense to us, completely irrational. Yet, this man believes that
it is powerful! So, would it not be better to show him how ineffective
confession actually is? Why could we not attack the sacrament itself? I realize
that the confessional is a no fly zone we cannot access. However, we could
attack his faith in confession indirectly, by playing on his fears that he is
revealing himself in a way that makes him vulnerable! Pride is the downfall of
many men, as you yourself mentioned, so why don’t we help him to realize that he
is telling his sins to a mere man… one who might use that information for his
own benefit. His pride would then guide him away from saying anything that would
make him appear lesser or weak, for no man wishes to be judged by another. I
will be considering all these issues critically as I continue to seriously
practice your advice.
Sincerely, the Obfuscator
My Dearest, Darling Obfuscator,
So wise we are, suddenly! So
perspicacious! You grasp things so quickly and even come to conclusions the
master had not reached! Well, a gold star for the star pupil.
if you can attack the patient’s awareness of the priest’s humanity, by all means
do so. I have known it to work, but not, usually, in a patient with a well
established habit of confessing. That sort of thing is better suited to the
lapsed Catholic who is half-considering going back to the Church. That’s when
you want to trot out a parade of priest scandal stories and bad jokes about
altar boys and confessions. Better still if he knew a priest who was an
alcoholic, or a glutton, or even simply a bore. Anything to render ludicrous (in
his mind as it is in ours) the idea that the Enemy could possibly use such a
weak, pathetic sinner to affect His work. Even a cursory reading of the gospels
would convince the dullest human that not only is that not unusual, it is
precisely the Enemy’s usual mode of operation, but most humans don’t read the
gospels. That is where you make mileage on the priest’s sins.
case of a patient who has been confessing regularly for years, particularly if
he confesses to several priests, his faith is in the sacrament, not the priest.
As you pointed out, he believes the sacrament is powerful, and that is why he
goes. He probably doesn’t seriously attach that power to the priest himself.
On the other claw, if you do know anything about the priest, it wouldn’t
hurt to ensure the patient becomes aware of it. The juicier the better. What if
the priest doesn’t have any serious faults? Well, you’re a demon, aren’t you?
Gossip, suspicion and lies are as good as a conviction in your patient’s
culture. Maybe he will stop going to confession altogether, or maybe he will
simply decide to quit going to that priest. Either way, the distrust is
certainly worth it, if you can make it happen.
Another thought. I once
got a patient to stop going to confession to her regular confessor, who was a
very wise and holy man, because I convinced her that every time he preached a
homily on gossip he was thinking about her latest confession. I had forgotten
that little anecdote. One of my more humorous escapades, if I do say so. In
fact, the truth of the matter was that that abominable little prig spent so many
hours in the confessional per week he was guaranteed to hear every sin in the
book by four-o-clock wednesday afternoon. Make fun of her? Ha! He couldn’t for
the life of him remember which parishoner had told him what sins, except for one
or two of the more colorful local characters. I strongly suspect he had heard a
murder confessed once or twice (a few of my colleagues were assigned to local
gang members) but given the fate of the priest’s handler, I doubt he ever broke
the seal of the confessional.
Which reminds me, I really ought to look
you up some time. I have taken a special interest in your career, and we might
be meeting far sooner than you ever expected.