2018 Theme:

Only Wonder Knows

A relatively new phenomenon, that of internet quizzes, invites people to answer arcane and seemingly mystical multiple-choice questions to discover which medieval philosopher they are, or which Hogwarts House they belong to, or which sandwich or piece of Ikea furniture they are; we can even discover, by answering a set of twelve random questions, the answer to the question, Who Are You, Really? One particular genre of quiz is a variation on the Meyers Briggs psychological tests - these types of quizzes seem to be perennial favorites, despite the fact that most people already know what their four letters are. Why are these popular? What are they actually telling us about ourselves?
Meanwhile, the question of science and how science understands the human person generates interest in people of many different backgrounds. Some wield science in order to claim they know what “causes” a person to murder, to fall in love, or to act with compassion. Many people do internet searches with lists of symptoms they've observed in themselves in an attempt to define themselves (but instead of defining themselves as Hildegard of Bingen or an introvert, they do it according to disorders: food sensitivities, rare auto-immune diseases, digestive issues, or hormone imbalances). The flip side to this impulse to ask science what is wrong with us is the quest for a "cure" - is there a special diet that can fix us? Or perhaps there's a medicine that my doctor is unfamiliar with? Or perhaps there are environmental problems that are causing human ills on a grander scale (vaccinations, air pollution, lack of exercise due to the omni-presence of elevators and escalators).
Self-help books – even Catholic ones – claim to help us to discover our personal love languages, or what medieval humors are controlling our personality. Specialists claim they have the formula for getting our spouse to talk to us, or how to discover our immortal reality. In the realm of politics and economic theory, any number of “experts” want to give us the recipe for the perfect rearrangement of the government to finally better suit humanity.

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discover our immortal reality. In the realm of politics and economic theory, any number of “experts” want to give us the recipe for the perfect rearrangement of the government to finally better suit humanity.
Our theme, Only Wonder Knows, boldly asserts what we already know, in our heart of hearts: that none of the answers generated through these means will ever supply a solution to satisfy our desire to know and be known. Josef Pieper wrote: “to be human is to know things beyond the ‘roof’ of the stars, to go beyond the trusted enclosures of the normal, customary day-to-day reality of the whole of existing things, to go beyond the ‘environment’ to the ‘world’ in which that environment is enclosed.” Instead of providing people with an external “test” that will finally supply the answer to humankind’s restless questions, the path that wonder creates is built on the freedom of the person to look at his or her own elementary needs and experiences. We discover who we are through the particular lives we lead, and each of us is tasked with the responsibility of the personal work necessary to keep the questions open. In order to have the strength to walk this particular pilgrimage toward the truth of ourselves, we need friends, companions, who will accompany us. We don’t need more “experts” or manuals or quizzes. We need others who will look at us with eyes filled with wonder, who are willing to be surprised by what and who we are, rather than try to sum us up with a theory, or a definition. At the Festival of Friendship, we will celebrate this dimension of life and propose this understanding of friendship, so that we can all set out together on the adventure of wonder!