"Good evening Godless sodomites" was how Stephen Colbert started his Emmy Presentation (American Papist has the video). In a story closely related.
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Sister Mary Pia, wearing a threadbare habit, spoke from behind the bars of her gated parlor about the power of prayer.
"Hollywood is the Babylon of the U.S.A.," she said. "For people who need prayers, we have to be here."
Just two long blocks from her monastery, you are in the thick of the electric lights of Hollywood Boulevard: among the dopers, the runaways, the homeless, the sex salesmen.
Sister Mary Pia said she prays for all of them, while knowing virtually nothing about them. There is nothing ironic about this, she said: "One doesn’t need to be of it to know of it."
Indeed, in her 56 years at the Monastery of the Angels, she has ventured out no more than a few dozen times to attend religious retreats or make preparations for dying loved ones. Rarely has she set a shoe onto the stained sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard.
Yet the signs of iniquity are everywhere. Police helicopters routinely hover over the cloister. There is the dull roar of the Hollywood Freeway. Neighbors recently complained so loudly about the belfry’s morning chimes to prayer that the authorities forced the peals to go silent.
"I think we pricked their conscience," she said of the neighbors.
Sister Mary Pia is one of 21 Dominican nuns in this walled complex of stucco and steel.
They do no missionary work here, canvass no alleys, cook in no soup kitchen. Prayer is the occupation.
[Via Relapsed Catholic]
Well I quibble that they do no missionary work. The fact that St. Therese of Lisieux is a patron saint of missionaries and some missions is not an oddity, but a truth highlighting our faith. Contemplative are on the front lines of whatever they intercede for.
In another story Nuns prove God is not figment of the mind
The idea that there a "God spot" in the brain, a circuit of nerves which could explain mankind’s almost universal belief in a deity, is questioned today by a study of Carmelite nuns.
Scientists have been in the pursuit of the brain processes underlying the Unio Mystica – the Christian notion of mystical union with God – and this endeavour is now part of a newly-emerging field called "neurotheology".
Carmelite nuns assisted scientists in their quest to discover a circuit of nerves in the brain to explain man’s almost universal belief in a deity
But the God module, as some scientists call it, is a mirage, according to the study by Dr Mario Beauregard, of the Department of Psychology at the Université de Montréal and his student Vincent Paquette, published in the journal Neuroscience Letters. "The main goal of the study was to identify the neural correlates of a mystical experience," said Dr Beauregard. "This does not diminish the meaning and value of such an experience, and neither does it confirm or disconfirm the existence of God."
Fifteen cloistered Carmelite nuns ranging from 23 to 64 years old were subjected to brain scan using a method called functional magnetic resonance imaging while being asked to relive a mystical experience, rather than actually try to achieve one. "I was obliged to do it this way seeing as the nuns are unable to call upon God at will," said Dr Beauregard.
This method was justified because previous studies with actors asked to enter a particular emotional state activated the same brain regions as people actually living those emotions.
Rather than reveal a spiritual centre in the brain, a module of neural circuits specifically designed for religious experience, the study demonstrated that a dozen different regions of the brain are activated during a mystical experience.
In other words, mystical experiences are mediated by several brain regions and systems normally implicated in functions such as self-consciousness, emotion and body representation.
First off I do wonder what the same study done on the Erie Benedictines would have revealed? My first thought on reading the story was good thing they selected the Carmelites. Another question is why they used functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) instead of a CATholic scan?
I do wonder what they classify as mystical experiences? Mystical theology would classify them as extraordinary forms of prayer, the higher forms of contemplation in all their varieties or gradations, private revelations, visions, and the union growing out of these between God and the soul, known as the mystical union. I mean it’s not like you can tell somebody "start up your mystical experience why we scan you." These machines are the same devices you see in medical dramas. I can imagine the problem they would have had with St. Teresa of Avila if they had tried these on her. "Stop levitating. We can’t get a good image with you always moving around."
The stories headline is rather deceptive and the word prove is rather strong. I find it funny sciences search for a God gene or a God spot (G spot?) to try to explain away religious belief. Why not a search for the gene that causes some people to believe that all existence can only be explained by material processes? Or a gene explaining why we believe in truth? Though the scientific study for denying God’s existence has been around for a while.
Proof! Proof! That is what I have always been after. I do not know the soul, I know the mind. If there is really any soul, I have found no evidence of it in my investigations. — Thomas Edison
"I didn’t see God." Russian astronaut coming back from space,
Alice von Hildebrand relates this story:
A student said "I will believe in God the day I can see him under a microscope" to which she replied "The day I can put God under a Microscope, I will stop believing in God."