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Striving Joyfully (6) – Charis as a Counter-Culture

Striving Joyfully is a tall order, but it is why Charis exists.

The world is deforming our children. Many people believe that virtue is an outdated technology; we don’t need virtue, only “life hacks.” Others hold that a series of temporary, passionate romances are of greater value than a covenantal, comprehensive, and lifelong commitment built around the receiving and raising of children and the edification of all the members of the community. And while most people might still admit that real friends are more valuable than social media friends, we increasingly give ourselves over to things that take away from the types of deep and meaningful connections that edify us and fill our life with joy.

It is not enough to tell our children the truth, we must show them the truth lived out amongst us. When the world mocks and denigrates the traditional family, we must show them that the family provides safety, identity, and produces great joy. We must show them the value of virtue by pursuing it ourselves and repenting humbly when we fail to be virtuous. We must demonstrate by the way we spend our time and money that relationships are more valuable than things or experiences—no amount of Netflix, Door Dash, and Tic Toc can replace the worth of even one true friend.

These outlooks cannot be taught; rather they are “caught” when they are embedded and lived out in community. Our children will seek to enter into marriage not because we lecture them, but because they come to see that marriage is not just good, but beautiful. They will pursue virtue not because we punish them, but when they see others facing difficulty with peace and fortitude. They will enter into virtuous friendships and forgo “digital connections” when they see that these are shadows of a reality that is lived out amongst them.  

Where people in the world are literally amusing themselves to death, we want to have an educational institution that instills concentration, memory, and clear thinking, a school not built around accolades or achievement, but rather grounded in wisdom, a place where students don’t focus on Ivy League admissions, but instead on admitting goodness, truth, and beauty into their hearts, a place where students don’t seek a piece of paper like Dorothy’s Scarecrow to show that they have brains, but rather a place where students see school as a takeoff, the beginning of a journey of lifelong learning.

Where the world has constructed a self-reinforcing and closed system, we want to expose our children to books and ideas that will challenge the worship of technology, the deification of science, and modern man’s perverse reinterpretation of love. 

And when we feel weak and discouraged and inadequate to meet the great challenges we face, when we are without faith and without joy, Charis can and should be a place of encouragement. St. Augustine said that the Church is not a victory parade for successful people, but rather a hospital for those that know they are sick. I want the same to be true of this place, that we would be a community where individuals recognize their weaknesses and encourage and edify one another, pointing each other away from self-pity and shame and towards faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  

This is a tall order and one I know we will never perfectly hit. But it is worth pursuing. It is worth striving for. It is worth sacrificing and suffering for. So be encouraged on those tough days—what you are doing is worthwhile!