Make a Holiness Check! Tabletop RPGs and the Faith

Garrett writes on Table-Top RPGs, Imagination, and Moral and Spiritual Development.

A while back I came across a Reddit post by a user with the wonderful online moniker ‘Stirfriar’. Introducing himself as a Franciscan Friar, he went on to describe the many amazing experiences he and his brothers in the friary had while playing tabletop role-playing games in their leisure time.

These aren’t the RPGs one might think of – videogames like Fallout or Skyrim. Rather, these are more like elaborate boardgames – though not necessarily requiring a board. Dungeons and Dragons is the most popular example of such games, but there are many other examples. The basic setup is that a group of players come together, each controlling a single character. One player is designated the ‘Game Master’, and they are in charge of coming up with a story that involves the players, controlling any other characters in the game. There is a game mechanic for deciding the outcomes of player actions, – usually rolling dice – but I’ve seen playing cards used as well, and these successes and failures move the story a long.

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A Letter to St. Francis Xavier

Garrett shares his appreciation to St. Francis Xavier, a co-founder of the Society of Jesus, responsible for bringing Catholicism to Goa, India, Southeast Asia and Japan.

Dear Francis Xavier,

I’d like to start this letter with a bit of a confession. Although I selected ‘Francis’ as my confirmation name, I did not exactly have you in mind when I chose it. Back then, I was drawn to the radical simplicity of Saint Francis of Assisi – I still am, although I have found, as he did, that it doesn’t always suit everyone.

It’s been almost a decade since my confirmation, but in that time, I’ve learnt about a few other Saint Francises, and come to admire them all. There’s Francis de Sales – the patron saint of writers, who I obviously felt an immediate affinity to. Also, I learned about your fellow Jesuit, Francis Borgia, who was a Spanish noble and the white sheep of a family who used the Catholic Church as a means to satisfy their own lusts and greed.

And then of course, there is you.

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The Legends of the Saints: A Reflection

Garrett shares about his love for the stories of the early Saints

One of the biggest blessings I’ve ever received in my life is a father who loved telling stories. It started with comics. He would tell me the origin stories of various superheroes from Spider-Man to Green Lantern, as I’d listen with rapt attention. But eventually, he started telling me stories of the Saints as well. There was, for example, St. Maximillian Kolbe, who so heroically gave his life for a fellow inmate in Auschwitz, and the three children in Fatima who received a visit from Our Lady. These tales were every bit as exciting to me as the comic book ones, and to me those Saints were every bit the heroes Batman and Superman were.

So having always loved the stories of the Saints, I eventually started to realize that some of the stories actually seemed to give them superpowers. From the ability to talk to animals to surviving grievous injuries, the further back you went it seemed like these stories grew more and more incredible. Then you start noticing strange things like the story of Saint Christopher – was his name literally ‘Christ-bearer’ even before his conversion? Were these stories true?

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