Thursday, July 20, 2006

Where were you 37 years ago?

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Neil Armstrong was out at the lake--Tranquility, that is.

The first manned landing on the Moon by Apollo XI on 20 July 1969, is one of history's most significant events. Neil Armstrong's words, "That's one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind," are known by people worldwide. Less well known is what occurred immediately after landing at the Sea of Tranquility. Lunar Module pilot Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin made an act of Holy Communion from the reserved Sacrament (outside his own diocese, I might add).

Aldrin, a layman from St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Nassau Bay, TX, brought the blessed Sacrament in both species in his personal kit. Due to political concerns, NASA kept this event under wraps for two decades. The published memoirs of Dr. Aldrin, combined with Tom Hanks' HBO mini-series, From the Earth to the Moon (1998), made millions aware of this humble act of "workplace witness." Colonel Aldrin, with an earned doctorate in astrophysics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was acknowledged as the most highly educated of the first astronauts; he was a "true scientist," yet respected by peers as an unabashed Christian.

The First Holy Communion on the Moon is significant in other ways:
+ The first liquid ever poured in the Moon's 1/6th gravity was the Blood of Christ.
+ The first food and drink consumed by humans on another celestial body was the blessed Sacrament.
+ The most remote act of worship (235,000 miles from Earth) ever undertaken was this lay-led office from the Book of Common Prayer.

That event led to the approval of the following propers for a common of space exploration this year.

Job 38: 4-12, 16-18
Psalm 19:1-6, or Canticle 12
Revelation 1:7-8, 12-16
John 15:5-9
Preface of God the Father or the Epiphany

Collect for Space Exploration

Creator of the universe, whose dominion extends through the immensity of space: guide and guard those who seek to fathom its mysteries [especially N.N.]. Save us from arrogance lest we forget that our achievements are grounded in thee, and, by the grace of thy Holy Spirit, protect our travels beyond the reaches of earth, that we may glory ever more in the wonder of thy creation: through Jesus Christ, thy Word, by whom all things came to be, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Fr Timothy Matkin said...

Of course, no humna being has set foot on the moon during my lifetime.

Fr Timothy Matkin said...

No human being either.

Fr. Christopher Cantrell SSC said...

It's still very cool! I was around and I do remember.

Anonymous said...

This is fascinating -- I had no idea!

+ Alan said...

Very cool indeed. I was 3 but I swear I can remember seeing it on TV as parents were watching. Pax vobiscum.

orielensis said...
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Fr Timothy Matkin said...

According to other info I've now received, Aldrin was a Presbyterian. The info I got from the General Convention resolution seems to have lumped him in with several other astronauts who belonged to that Episcopal parish in Nassau Bay.

In any case, the part about Communion on the Moon is true.