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Satan’s strategy: Keep the Church back on its heels

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Steve TrosleyThe Catholic Church seems to be engaged in a slugfest.

I know a scant bit about boxing because my Dad enjoyed the sport, something he learned in the Army. He felt the manly art of self-defense was something I needed to learn because I was hopelessly not fleet of foot. He felt those who cannot flee must fight. My maternal grandpa also coached me, although his style was more “street” than “art.”

I was not an especially good student – I dropped my hands all of the time – but the strategy stuck with me. Everyone had a knockout punch. If you could counter it, you had a chance to prevail.

I recently listened to a number Catholics bemoan the many attacks on our Church and our faith in our increasingly secular world and I recalled one bit of advice I got from a fellow punching bag at a YMCA event. “He’s got a good knock-out punch, so keep him on his heals until he gets tired and makes a mistake.”

The strategy makes sense if you have the stamina to execute it. Your opponent has to plant his feet to deliver his knockout punch. If he’s backing up all of the time, he can’t deliver the most devastating blow in his arsenal. And if you have stamina, he’ll never get a chance to deliver that blow.

I’m certainly not going to pretend to be a theologian, but it occurs to me that the Church is in a whale of a boxing match with Satan. Using secular culture and the crises created by human frailty, he is trying to keep the Church rocking back on its heels. A newspaper publisher friend of mine told me recently a survey on spirituality in his market showed self-identified Catholics often use the words “confused,” “betrayed,” and “disillusioned” to describe how they feel about the Church. Our lack of stamina is showing.

If Satan is stymied in delivering his knock-out punch, his strategy has to be to keep the Church back on its heels. Knowing that strategy, we can counter it. Prayerfully reading he scriptures is the best way to build stamina.

Truly, Satan never tires so neither should we.

A belated welcome to Gail Finke, a recent addition to The Catholic Telegraph staff. Gail will be reporting and will provide us with production guidance. She will also assist veteran staffer Greg Hartman, who has moved into the new media editor position and continues to guide our audience development efforts. Also new with us this season is Hanna Bender, a student at DePaul Cristo Rey High School who is interning here – helping us clean up our archives.

A word of thanksgiving: On Dec. 5, 2006, I had a stroke. As I mark the 10th anniversary of what my doctor called a “life-changing event,” I am thankful for the medical professionals who guided me on the road to recovery, the family members who supported me and put up with my brain-damaged personality and to the Good Lord who placed that shot across my bow and reminded me there are more important things in life than profit margins and carbohydrates.

Have a holy Advent and Merry Christmas from all of us at The Catholic Telegraph.

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