Communion on the Moon

I recently wrote about Communion on the Moon.

Since then, I have read the article by Joanna Moorhead in the International Catholic Weekly, The Tablet, (20 July 2019). It expanded my understanding, highlighting that the first liquid poured by human hands on the Moon, and the first food eaten there, were Communion elements.

I hope you have, by now, read my post on this. The Tablet article complements the post:

The US space agency had recently had to defend itself from an attack by an atheist called Madalyn Murray O’Hair, who had taken out a lawsuit to ensure no astronaut was allowed to practise religion in space, or on the Moon. Her anger had been fired by the crew of a previous space mission, Apollo 8, who had quoted from the Book of Genesis in a live broadcast: O’Hair believed this violated the constitutional separation between Church and State.

As a result, Aldrin was told that, while it was fine to go ahead and take Communion on the Moon, it could not be broadcast; the O’Hair suit had floundered by this stage, but there was fear that it could fan the flames of a new one. So while Aldrin was allowed to invite the world to take a moment to give thanks, what followed inside the landing craft was redacted; all the world heard was silence, and the passages from St John were heard only by Armstrong, who was there with him, and by ground control in Houston.

Some newspaper reports at the time did mention that Aldrin had taken bread and wine on the expedition, but not that he had consumed it as part of a eucharistic service – nor did they register the enormous symbolism of what that meant, which was that the f irst food and drink ever consumed on the Moon were directly linked with the life of Christ on Earth 2,000 years earlier. Aldrin said later that he hadn’t considered whether it was right to make his worship explicitly Christian, but he worried afterwards that it might not have been. “Although it was a deeply meaningful experience for me,” he wrote, “it was a Christian sacrament, and we had come to the Moon in the name of all mankind – be they Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, agnostics, or atheists.”

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