Testimony: Faith and Reason in Quebec City

Whilst studying for my Masters I encountered certain difficulties in undertaking such higher studies – the omnipresent challenge of solitude (a necessary corollary of research) and the question of how to reconcile the demands of faith and reason (a spiritual challenge faced by every Christian scholar engaged in this kind of endeavour). It seems to me that most Christian scholars are not equipped to explore these dimensions of their work.

So, I decided to invite a few Community brothers and sisters, as well as a number of fellow students, to form a group the purpose of which would be to provide a place of fraternal life, of intellectual formation and of encouragement by testimony.

Initially, the formula was a little loose but we now come together one Friday evening per month beginning with  a pizza then followed by a short half hour presentation by a student who guides us through the his Masters or PhD topic – be it completed or not.

This is quite exciting thanks to the great diversity of disciplines involved. We have enjoyed a civil engineering presentation on the difficulty of road maintenance in the Canadian climate (by student fromChad!), a presentation onSt Johnof the Cross’ mystical poetry and another on the evolution of spiritual language amongst palliative care nurses.

This exercise is very interesting. If a student has not yet completed his thesis he is obliged to make an effort to synthetically explain his research topic. If it is already completed, he is called upon to share a work that too often simply ends up on the shelf in the university library. And for the audience, it serves as a time to emerge from the very specific confines of our own specialisation and to taste something of the universality of knowledge – which is, after all, a specific element of the university.

The second stage of the evening involves a longer presentation on a substantive topic related to the faith and reason problematic. This may be done by reference to an historical figure or to a theme.

Together with a professor of philosophy the group has already reflected upon a theme of universal interest to all sciences – the nature of reason, its power and its limits. We have  also considered the illnesses or deviations which affect this theme today – relativism, scientism and skepticism etc.

We have enjoyed discovering such great personalities as Frédéric Ozanam, the 19th century French intellectual and founder of the Society of St Vincent de Paul, Professor Lejeune, contemporary researcher and discoverer of Down Syndrome, and Alphonse Desjardins, a Quebecker living at the turn of 19th Century who created the ‘Caisses Populaires’, a financial cooperation movement which has deeply influenced Quebec society.

Our next gathering will be our first ‘Faith and Reason Symposium ‘ to be held at the Parish of St Thomas Aquinas which has been entrusted to a team of Emmanuel Community priests and which is adjacent to the large campus of the Université Laval. The programme will comprise two presentations of Maters theses followed by ‘beer and cheese’ and then an evening recital of texts of authors referred to in the afternoon: Blessed Marie of the Incarnation and the Quebec poet Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau.

The results of these meetings have been encouraging and they have allowed us to create a small network of about 30 people who all desire to work in the same direction, to live a fraternity amongst Catholic intellectuals and to participate in the mission of the Church at the heart of what is an exciting, albeit difficult, environment.

 Fr Martin Lagacé, Emmanuel Community

Emmanuel Community in Canada: http://www.emmanuelca.info/

Mentions légales

IUPG, association loi de 1901
91, boulevard Auguste Blanqui
75013 Paris

Représentant légal : Philippe Quentin
Responsable de rédaction : Isabelle Voix
Hébergeur : OVH