Lumen Summer 2023

truths received through Revelation. These two modes of knowing reflect the dynamism between the active and contemplative life and work together in complementary fashion. Faith prevents reason from being reduced to its instrumental tendencies; it connects reason to metaphysical questions and to matters of value, purpose, meaning, and ultimacy. Reason enriches faith by protecting it from the excesses of fideism, sentimentality and superstition. A key for understanding the complementarity of faith and reason is the Greek concept of logos. We translate logos as “word,” but in Greek it also means “reason.” Logos for the Greeks was a power that enabled the human mind to perceive the order present in the universe. This logos, this latent potency of mind, is used in our description of many of our disciplines: bio logy, geo logy, socio logy, psycho logy, anthropo logy. These are human disciplines, forms of reason,

expressions of logos, that help us to see patterns of intelligibility in the world. But the Greek understanding of logos does not end the matter. The prologue of John’s Gospel identifies Jesus as the Logos, the divine and creative reason. This is a truth grasped by faith – not a feeling but an intellectual illumination – resulting in a habit of mind by which eternal life is seen to begin in us, as St. Thomas Aquinas tells us, and the mind learns to see the end in our beginnings, and to penetrate to the invisible essence in the visible object. Faith, as St. Anselm once stated, seeks understanding, looks for reason. Catholic Studies, through its courses on Catholicism and science, faith and business, literature, the mission of the engineer, faith and doubt, as well as in its publications, seminars and conferences on campus and throughout the world, promotes the dialogue between the divine Logos and the human

aim of developing a habit of mind that sees things in relation to each other, resulting in a comprehensive vision that allows wise and accurate judgments about the world. In Catholic Studies, we focus on the intellectual habit of seeing things whole, a quality of mind that is increasingly deficient in higher education. The strength of the modern university is technical specialization, but this strength also feeds into the university’s most

This malaise was articulated by St. John Paul II in his 1990 Apostolic Letter, Ex Corde

this conviction is the confidence that the world is not a chaos but rather a cosmos. Because the world is created by a God of order, it contains patterns of intelligibility that can be discovered. Albert Einstein captured this conviction when he said, “The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.” Einstein’s claim concerning the comprehensibility of the universe is what makes a university a place where the unity of knowledge can be discerned and discovered. As Dr. John Boyle tells his students: “Everything from God to dirt is ordered and related in significant and intelligible ways.” As Catholic universities grew in complexity, we saw a need to foster an interdisciplinary center and eventually a department whose unique task would be to articulate such connections among the disciplines, not just for the humanities but also for the sciences

and professions. Catholic Studies is not a bubble; nor is it a fortress or an enclave. It is an intellectual initiative that seeks to establish appropriate relationships with and among all disciplines.

Ecclesiae, where he wrote about the “rigid compartmentalization of knowledge within individual academic disciplines” (§16). Such compartmentalization not only fragments knowledge; it also fragments the mind of the student. As we sought to address these challenges, we were guided by two intellectual convictions that inform

“ Catholic Studies is not a bubble; nor is it a fortress or an enclave. It is an

intellectual initiative that seeks to establish appropriate relationships with and among all the disciplines.”

The second key conviction that guides our work is the complementarity of faith and reason. Grasping the entirety of truth demands two modes of knowledge that are distinct but related: truths achieved through reason and

significant weakness. With the growing specialization of subjects, students find it increasingly difficult to gain an integrated vision across the various disciplines.

the university principle and express the interdisciplinary character of Catholic Studies.

The first conviction is the unity of knowledge. At the core of



1997  The quarterly academic journal Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture is launched,


 The Catholic Studies Rome Semester is born. Students live in various locations for four months and

 With the Koch’s founding gift, the Center for Catholic Studies is established. Briel is the first holder of the Koch Chair and the first director of the Center.

 The first two Catholic Studies majors, Ryan Lewis and Kathleen Noon, and minor, Gino Lambo, graduate from the University of St. Thomas.  David and Barbara Koch , longtime supporters of Catholic education, provide funds to establish the Koch Chair of Catholic Studies along with a scholarship fund.

giving the Center national and international scope, and encouraging a wider movement of educational thought and practice. Dr. Michael Mikolajczak is the founding editor.

attend classes at the Angelicum, the Dominican Pontifical University in Rome.

 The Center establishes the John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought, a collaborative effort between Catholic Studies and the university’s School of Business. Dr. Robert Kennedy is its first director.

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St. Thomas Lumen Summer 2023 Page 9

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