I have tried to be intentional about using images and quotes for the Faith and Reason summer program that help the students, faculty, and monks focus on the Catholic understanding of the relationship between faith and reason. One of my favorites comes from St. Paul's letter to the Philippians:
"For the rest, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever modest, whatsoever just, whatsoever holy, whatsoever lovely, whatsoever of good fame, if there be any virtue, if any praise of discipline, think on these things."
Here we have a clear admonition to seek out truth, beauty, and goodness wherever these may be found. In the popular mindset (no thanks to the media and entertainment industries), faith is associated with being closed-minded and even smug, whereas being reasonable has the connotation of being open-minded and humble. There may be individuals who fit those stereotypes, and there is no doubt that prideful believers do more harm than good when trying to evangelize. That being said, this is a misrepresentation of authentic faith.
How do we understand faith and reason?
As Catholics, we understand faith to be a grace that helps us to see how God acts in history and in our own lives; through faith, we see more. Further, faith encourages us to use reason in the pursuit of understanding our faith and growing as members of the body of Christ. To paraphrase the great Benedictine philosopher, St. Anselm, faith seeks understanding. And, we could add, reason seeks out faith in order to answer the questions it poses. As John Paul II puts it, "Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of the truth."
Here are just some of the questions we ask in our Faith and Reason Summer Program in order to think through the relationship between faith and reason:
- What does reason tell us about true happiness?
- Can we come to know that God exists through reason alone?
- How are science and religion related?
- What does faith add to artistic expression such as composing music?
I hope you can explore these questions with us this summer!