For five and a half years, Father László Jagier has been head of the department at the Faculty of Religious Studies at Pazmany Petr Catholic University, which he hopes will increasingly turn into a spiritual workshop in the midst of an individualistic world. The conversation covers the influence of theology on faith, why he turned to science as a priest, compulsory religious education, the university atmosphere – and the future of the Hungarian Church.
We are speaking in the building of the Faculty of Religious Studies at Pazmany Peter Catholic University, while for non-believers, faith and science often conflict with each other, and they even believe that faith weakens as science develops.
However, in your life, the relationship between these two is very closely linked; How do you reconcile faith and science?
I think it's a very old thesis that faith and science are in conflict with each other. There was already such a perception in the nineteenth century, according to the secularization thesis, and with the increasing growth of science, faith would no longer be necessary. The nineteenth century partly confirmed this, but the twentieth century did not. If someone is more deeply interested in this topic, it is worth reading Charles Taylor's book The Secular Age – he, as a Catholic author, examines why this idea has failed. At the same time, this does not mean that secularization is not increasing – while we also see processes of re-secularization. As we move forward, our understanding also increases, but Socrates puts it precisely: “The more we know, the more we realize that we know nothing.” As one acquires more and more knowledge, one realizes that one is part of a greater connection. This is not my personal religious belief, but rather the general experience of today's fragmented and fragmented world.
We do not see the growth of secularization, but rather the state of science – and faith alongside it.
If faith and science move side by side in parallel, where do they intersect?
We need our faith to consist not only of impressions and feelings, but also to be able to integrate it into some rational system. Christians began claiming this very early, in fact! What did the first Christians do? They wrote and wrote and wrote. Texts, the Gospels, were created from these to summarize what happened. Following the Bible, Christians of the second generation already recorded rules – statutes, liturgical rules: from the second century, we know the texts of the Divine Liturgy, which are surprisingly similar to today's texts. Christians needed to organize their faith.
At the same time, we often think of faith as an emotional connection, a deep human desire for God. What is the impact of theology – as a rational science – on human self-belief?
There was a stereotype that “if you come to study theology you will lose your faith.” This was true even of the character of some of the teachers who were strict and rational. For example, we have only examined critical interpretation in biblical studies, that is, we have examined why the specific text cannot be linked to the author that tradition links it to, and why the specific action could not have occurred. Thus, some may rightfully fear why they should go to theology if they lose their faith there. At the same time, this generation no longer taught, those who took their place understood that our human life is an integral part, where rationality, intuition, emotion and personality also have a place. If one is harmed, everyone is harmed.
How has your personal faith influenced your academic career? Anyone who reads your autobiography can immediately see that you made a serious “alliance” with theology very early on.
I didn't feel good in seminary, I almost ran away to theology. I really realized what this meant then, which was that if I had to stay there for six years, I would read the whole thing. In the meantime, I fell completely in love, and life gave me the joy of being able to start teaching in the meantime. When I was a priest in the first year, a priest said to me: “Lacey, learn everything here, but forget it after that, because you will not need it in the parish.” To this day, the judgment and situation remain fresh in my mind, but over the years it has become absolutely certain just how wrong he was. When I entered the parish, I obviously brought with me the knowledge gained, and I was able to use every bit of it – now as an ordained priest.
People greeted with an amazing thirst for someone to finally explain and explain why what is happening in a more precise and professional way, and not just give the “announcements and directions” with which the attic is filled.
I needed this acquired knowledge – I obviously did not begin my speeches with Kant's categorical imperative – and people also needed this kind of attitude. I often feel that the Hungarian Church is poor in thought, even though there is a desire to reveal deep things to the believers, because deep down they also feel that they are not part of a popular myth, but it is about much more than that. So. I feel it is very important that we try to increase the requirements of believers in an understandable but accurate way.
To what extent are you alone in this, do you see an effort within the Catholic Church?
We are always striving, but we live in a fragmented and fragmented age. There are no big narratives, no plans, and I don't see big, coordinated visions. I am a private traveler myself, but my experience with students is very positive. I have been teaching here for five and a half years, and I have developed a work ethic based on the fact that it is in both parties' interests to deepen knowledge, to talk about it, and we can deviate from it to a certain level. I feel that I was able to convey this rational and precise vision to students who were out of my hands.
How can someone who likes to think rationally experience a compassionate and compassionate relationship with God?
Swings – or rather waves. There were times when my rational side came to the fore in my relationship with God, and this was also fully felt in my prayer life: through the texts I read, prayer, and rational reflections. But this did not succeed after a while, because man is not only rational: the human soul is reason, will, and instinct. It has rationality, ambition, will, intuition, desire and passion – if one is only strong, it is not good, one must be harmonious. In recent years, for me, it has shifted from rationality to intuition, for example to quiet contemplation. Sometimes I find myself reading spiritual texts at the expense of philosophy, but that's okay because the time has come. This turns into an integrated human reality, which is why I love working here at the university, because rationality is missing in many places, but here, it is the basis – and all the other components can be added to it. For example, there are regular masses and devotions here in the church, with students. Johannes Hartl says that this is the culture of Eden, where beauty and rationality find a home in man. For those who come here, it's a big adventure, and you have to put your personality into it, because you don't prepare everything. He is called to receive and perhaps transmit some Edenic and integral human culture to others in the future.
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