Over a hundred students crammed into the Pugliese Auditorium on Oct. 26 to hear a leading expert’s presentation on the scientific studies of Medjugorje apparitions.
Brother Daniel Maria Klimek, TOR, who holds a doctorate in spirituality from the Catholic University of America and recently published “Medjugorje and the Supernatural,” opened his presentation “Science and the Supernatural” with a prayer to the Blessed Mother before offering a brief summary of reductionism.
In the 19th century, using the retrospective medicine method, French doctor Jean-Martin Charcot labeled Muhammad, Teresa of Avila and all other mystics as “undeniable hysterics,” a label that Klimek called a “denigration of the mystical experience.”
After outlining the unfortunate watering-down of mystical experiences to natural explanations, Klimek said that Medjugorje offers the scientific community an exclusive opportunity to observe visionaries in real time.
“Because they’re contemporary … we’re able to study them with scientific technologies,” Klimek said. Due to the regularity of the apparitions, “doctors know when they’re going to happen so they’re able to study what happens before the ecstasy and during the ecstasy.”
A comprehensive series of scientific, psychological and sociological tests on visionaries in 1984 led the French scientist Henri Joyeux to write, “These young people are healthy and there is no sign of epilepsy,” Klimek quoted. “There is no indication of any psychosis … No scientific discipline seems able to describe these phenomena.”
In 1998, hypnotists could not recreate an apparition state in the visionaries, ruling out the possibility of manipulative suggestion producing the visions, said Klimek.
In this study, Klimek explained, scientists monitoring the visionaries’ brain activity during an apparition observed that each visionary entered a never-before-seen level of consciousness, a state unexplainable both in the seers’ complete synchronization with one another and in being previously undocumented in scientific study.
Klimek said that the children entered a “hyper-awake” state during ecstasy, yet paradoxically did not experience pain or physically react to bright lights and loud noises, as is typical for hyper-awareness.
Klimek ended his talk with the reminder that science is unable to prove that Mary actually appeared to the visionaries, but it is able to prove what the apparitions are not. No scientific method known to man thus far has been able to explain the visions at Medjugorje.
After attending the talk, freshman Theresa Kelly said, “I liked how he showed (that) after we actually got decent scientific studies, that … proves better that science is on our side more.”