In our unique approach to liberal education at Magdalen College, we read both the Book of Nature and the Book of Revelation as complementary sources of wisdom, undertaking a sustained enquiry animated by both faith and reason (fides et ratio), what Pope Saint John Paul II called the “two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.” Through this enquiry we open ourselves to natural, cultural and divine realities through our direct experience, the books we read, the encounters with beauty that we enjoy, and our liturgical life. Through all of these, we take up questions about the nature and telos of the human person, the purpose of political life, first and final things, the deepest structures of reality, and our capacities for knowledge, goodness, and imaginative creation.
In all of this, we take our orientation from Pope Saint John Paul II’s encyclical Fides et Ratio one of the most important sources for our mission as a college. In this encyclical, John Paul II spoke eloquently of the fundamental questions that animate our search for wisdom. He spoke of how reason can help purify faith of encroaching superstition while faith can expand the limited horizons of enquiry in which reason tends to limit itself. And he emphasized how by approaching the whole of reality with both faith and reason, those who seek wisdom will not be disappointed. Instead, Wisdom will come out to meet us on the way and spread a feast before us. Rather than limiting the possibilities of human experience, the integration of the faith and reason will us beyond what reason alone could achieve.