I was having a conversation with a friend when something very unusual happened. We both started to gripe about evangelization, or rather, the new evangelization that we often hear so much about. Now before we go any further you have to know that the new evangelization is very close to my heart, and it is in many ways behind much of my effort and labour. My friend too, spends much time and thought on the subject, and it is not unusual for he and I to critique the happenings of our Church through that lens.
But it had occurred to us, as we sipped our coffee and spoke rapid fire across the table, that the words new evangelization are dangerously close to becoming buzz words. They reminded me of the phrases that school principals look for when making a new hire, something like, backward design or religious integration across the curriculum. In other words, there is a noticeable danger that what is supposed to be a growing movement in the Universal Church, remains at the level of a shallow and impotent catch phrase.
I can only say this because the call for a new evangelization is not new. In fact, some argue that you can trace its origins to well before the Second Vatican Council. But if that is true, then why is it taking so long to set the world on fire with the Holy Spirit? And why do so many good Catholics know the phrase but not the battle plan? Some say we are just looking for the right leaders and others say we have the leaders but we are waiting for them to act. I say we are all just confused or cowardly.
Either we still do not know what it means, which is very possible, or we do not want to step out of the boat. Both situations are terrible. And until they are dealt with, the new evangelization will continue to be something we only hear about.