How to Overcome the Prince Rilian Complex

Authored by Maria O’Shea in Issue #2.2 of The Catechetical Review

C. S. Lewis was a conjurer, whose words evoke the magic of ordinary things, breach the ramparts of rationalism, awaken the appetite for the eternal, and evangelize through the medium of fiction.

Plato’s “allegory of the cave,” as related by Socrates, tells of a group of people imprisoned in a cave since childhood. They have never seen the light of day and so imagine that shadows projected on a wall compose the whole of reality.

The progressive narrowing of thought in the Western world since the Enlightenment has achieved a similar kind of effect, shrinking our horizons and restricting our vision of reality. We could say that this intellectual narrowing has dimmed the memory of our true homeland, or, as philosopher Peter Kreeft describes, it has screwed “down the manhole covers on us so we became squinting underground creatures” instead of eagles capable of soaring towards the sun. Like the cave dweller’s attraction to reality in Plato’s famous allegory, however, the longing for light (which is the desire for the infinite) cannot be fully extinguished. Though buried deeply, it lies dormant and waits for someone to bring it to life.

As with many of our metaphysical troubles, often the path of awakening passes through a baptism of the imagination, the faculty that acts like a router to the deepest recesses of the soul. The art of storytelling is an exquisitely appropriate means to the rehabilitation of our capacity to perceive reality. Stories pique our curiosity and sense of wonder, and they excite our spiritual taste buds. With our souls’ senses heightened, our vision begins to clear and sharpen, and we perceive the magic and mystery that lies beneath the surface of everyday things.

Jesus used stories, symbols, parables, and paradoxes to reveal the “mysteries of the Kingdom.” The Word Incarnate, whose story is “the most tremendous tale of all,” revealed the magic of ordinary things, like seeds, sowers, trees, food, and drink in order to unlock the portals of the imagination and awaken our longing for infinite love and joy.[i] He is the storyteller par excellence and the bearer of Good News from a far-off country, the “happy homeland of the Trinity,” which is our true origin and destiny.

The rest of this online article is available for current subscribers.

Start your subscription today!

This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting

Articles from the Most Recent Issue

La Eucaristía: ¿Quién, cuándo, qué, porqué, dónde? Primera Parte
By Peter Kreeft
Free Sócrates y Platón y Aristóteles y Buda y Confucio y Lao-Tse nos dieron su mente; Cristo nos dio su Cuerpo. Todos intentaron salvar al mundo de la ignorancia por medio de su filosofía; Cristo salvó al mundo del pecado y de la muerte y del infierno por su Cuerpo y Sangre – tanto en la Cruz como en la Eucaristía. Cristo dijo: “Vengan a mí”. Buda dijo... Read more
Editor's Reflections: Recovering God's Work in the Sacraments
By Dr. James Pauley
Free The distress has been palpable. Important voices within the Church decry clericalism as the cause of the current scandal. Others point to the Church’s teaching concerning sexuality not being lived or taught with clarity. Still others describe a lack of authentic conversion, that many of our leaders are not allowing the grace of Christ to bring... Read more
The Eucharist: Who, When, What, Why, and Where? Part 1
By Peter Kreeft
Free Socrates and Plato and Aristotle and Buddha and Confucius and Lao Tzu all gave us their minds; Christ gave us his body. They all tried to save the world from ignorance by their philosophies; Christ saved the world from sin and death and hell by his body and blood—both on the cross and in the Eucharist. Christ said, “Come unto me.” Buddha said, “... Read more


Watch Tutorial Videos

We've put together several quick and easy tutorial videos to show you how to use this website.

Watch Now