The New Evangelization's Greatest Threat
I've become a big fan of Fr. Barnes's blog, A Shepherd's Post. In a recent entry, I think he hit the nail on the head in describing the biggest threat that the new evangelization faces:
The New Evangelization, if it is to be effective, needs to be unchained from the prison of the "middle." But, there are those who have been lifelong adherents to the "middle theory," and it is difficult to break their stranglehold on the New Evangelization...
We always think of ideologies as being from the left and from the right. But, this middle ideology is like a sleeper cell in the life of the Church because it appears to be in the place where we often think that virtue lives--in the middle. But, this middle is a prison for the Gospel. I'm willing to bet that the parishes that are dying off the fastest are those who pride themselves on being in this middle. In the middle, the goal is to make everyone comfortable. Eventually, people figure out that they don't need to go to church to feel comfortable. They can stay at home and be comfortable.
Peter Kreeft explains in his book Jesus Shock why it is that this middle road is so dangerous. If you want to protect yourself against a virus, he says, the thing to do is to inject yourself with a weak strain of the virus - we call this a vaccine. It is just a touch of the virus you want to inoculate yourself against that allows your body to adapt and resist the real thing, the full-strength virus. In just the same way, those who are exposed to a weak strain of Christianity can build up a resistance to the full, undiluted Gospel - the walking-on-water, rising-from-the-dead, I-was-blind-and-now-I-see Gospel of a life-changing encounter with the Risen Jesus.
I am also reminded of these powerful words of Pope Benedict XVI: "The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness."