In the fourth century the church had drifted into this same problem. The church had become established. The emperor was a Christian so all the fashionable ladies (of both sexes) thought they wanted to be Christians too. The Arians were establishment Christians who watered down the faith. Read my article on it here.
This “church of lazy” however, produced some new heroes. In contradiction to the lazy times, St Anthony went out into the Egyptian desert to live in a cave and lived a life of prayer, asceticism, work and worship. He decided to counter the church of lazy not by imprecations, but by inspiration. He denounced the decadence of his day by becoming a hermit. He did not condemn everyone else. He condemned himself and then did something about it.
It is my feeling therefore that our age, more than ever before, need heroes not couch potato Catholics.
Hasn’t anyone noticed that the way to empty churches is to water down the faith, open the doors to everyone without calling for repentance and a changed life? Hasn’t anyone noticed that people want the spiritual life to be a vocation not a vacation? Has everyone forgotten that people expect the Christian life to be a challenge? Jesus didn’t say, “Take up your couch. He said take up your cross. He didn’t say it would be easy and the best way to empty churches it to pretend otherwise.
The path to perfection is like climbing Everest. Even if there were a helicopter to the top you wouldn’t want to take it. Where’s the adventure in that?
In the face of the church of lazy however, we don’t need to condemn the abuses and failures of others. We simply need to respond to God’s call for each one of us in our own way according to our own vocation and calling to be another hero.
And then, as usual, I am reminded of church teaching for our Holy Mother tells us that the first sign of sanctity that is looked for in a potential saint is the sign of “heroic virtue”.
“Heroic virtue” is what each of the baptized are called to, and just one person who follows this path puts to flight a busload of couch potato Catholics. Just one person who exhibits heroic virtue will be a radiant light that banishes all the weakness darkness of the church of lazy.