It is never easy to process different but converging experiences, so here goes.
Sunday marked the beginning of Advent, followed by a solid snow storm, and then yesterday was Giving Tuesday. Here we have the liturgical calendar and its primacy transitioning into the reality of weather - an uncontrollable but inescapable dynamic to be dealt with - then a secular occasion that summons reflection on why we give what we give to what we do.
As I was immersed in all of these experiences, I got to thinking.
There is one certainty in life: all parents want what is good for their children. I thought about the gift of parenthood and the gift of children; the preceding days with family likely spurred where my mind went. On Giving Tuesday, I was overcome with a sense of appreciation for what I see my children experience here at Mount Royal Academy. Even what we do here is a paradoxically reflective, yet incomplete, taste of the love parents have for their children.
The month of December at MRA focuses on the virtue of charity. God loves us first; once we realize the reality of that love, we cannot help but want others to experience it as well. It is an undeserved love; we can't do anything to earn it. Much like a family, children know they are loved first by their parents - loved for no apparent reason besides belonging together. Our relationship with God is predicated on the acceptance of His love. We all know what it feels like when someone we love doesn't outwardly seem to accept it. I would venture we also know how the flame of love cannot be extinguished, especially for our children.
This is the power of education in love; education rightly ordered teaches children what it truly means to be human. We want the good (not some incomplete good) for our children, which means willing their good not for our sake, but for theirs. Sometimes we do this directly in our homes, and sometimes we do this indirectly in the sacrifices we make for their good.
A virtue is a habit of doing good. If prudence is the charioteer of the virtues, charity is the formal and final cause of the virtuous life. Everything we do ought to originate from and effect disinterested love (love that doesn't look for selfish goods). Much of our experience cannot be explained except by love, which has an inherently irrational nature. It doesn't always make sense, but in the core of our beings, we know what we are made for. The challenge becomes making this a part of who we are, how we think, what we do, and what we choose not to do.
As many of you know, my wife and I are expecting our fourth child. I often wonder (though don't desire) how it feels to be pregnant in the season of Advent. Expectation becomes so very real, which is what we should be doing in Advent anyways. We should cultivate a healthy sense of expecting and accepting that God really loves us so much he thought to himself - "Well, I will just leave where I am to enter into an existence that I know to be brutally harsh yet beautifully good." I don't think any of us desire both poles of that spectrum, but God did it for us.
What can we do for Him?
Most sincerely in Christ,