America’s space saga showcases her common Christian culture | The Bridgehead

“It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.”

— Apollo astronaut “Buzz” Aldrin

Source: America’s space saga showcases her common Christian culture | The Bridgehead

It is more than a curiosity, I think, that the first action committed by human beings on the Moon, aside from operational necessities, was the receiving of the sacrament of Holy Communion by astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin:

And so [his] pastor consecrated a communion wafer and a small vial of communion wine.  And Buzz Aldrin took them with him out of the Earth’s orbit and on to the surface of the moon. He and Armstrong had only been on the lunar surface for a few minutes when Aldrin made the following public statement: 

“‘This is the LM pilot. I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.’

“He then ended radio communication and there, on the silent surface of the moon, 250,000 miles from home, he read a verse from the Gospel of John, and he took communion.”

Aldrin had originally intended to broadcast the moment to the United States and the world, but NASA – then embroiled in a legal battle with the militant atheist, Madelyn Murray O’Hare, over the Apollo 8 astronauts’ Christmas Eve message from lunar orbit, when they read from the Book of Genesis, and closed with “good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas – and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth” – requested that he refrain.

Still, as the article points out, his actions, and those of his colleagues on Apollo 8, serve as proof positive that Americans still had a common, Christian culture, just 50 years ago. It is also, I would add, proof positive that scientific and technological accomplishment is not at odds with Christian faith: that faith and reason are not, or at any rate need not be, in enmity with one another.

To quote the linked article once again:

“It is fascinating to look back and realize that a mere fifty years ago, America still had a common culture. Her preeminent scientific explorers took the first opportunity when orbiting in space and setting foot on the Moon to glorify the Creator, to acknowledge Him, and to commemorate His sacrifice for mankind. They recognized that despite man’s great accomplishments, which they themselves were spearheading, men should stand in humility and awe at the reality of the Creator.

“A half-century on, the intellectual descendants of the angry atheist who sued NASA over the astronauts’ reading of Scripture on Christmas Eve have triumphed in many ways. But while they can trash the present, they cannot rewrite history—and the simple fact is that the first acts of American astronauts in space and on the Moon were the acknowledgement of God’s infinite goodness and the magnificence of his Creation.”

Amen. Alleluia! Thanks be to God, the Maker of Heaven and earth.

 

Weekly Communion?

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A Lutheran (Missouri Synod) pastor of my acquaintance posted the following on his Facebook page earlier today:

“Lutherans: regularly-scheduled non-communion Sundays – unless caused by poverty or other physical hardship – are expressly contrary to apostolic practice as recorded in Scripture, violative of our confessions, and only benefit the realm of the demonic.

“It’s like deliberately starving your own children for a week so that they’ll appreciate eating, so they don’t look like the Roman Catholic kids who get regular meals, or because you were similarly abused as a child. Stop it.

“We need to drive a stake through this vampire’s heart.”

I used to regularly experience this in my Methodist days. Somewhat to my surprise, I encounter it from time to time in Anglican circles, as well – and I think it’s a shame. Much though I value the proclamation of the Word (which is, after all, read and preached at every Communion service), and much as I love the beauty of Choral Mattins and Evensong, I think those who speak against the weekly reception of the Holy Communion are sadly astray.

It is, after all, the one thing, other than loving one another, and baptizing in the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, that our Lord emphatically commanded us to do! And for that small minority of Anglicans who can’t seem to embrace anything without the imprimatur of Continental Protestant divines, both Luther and Calvin advocated for the weekly reception of the sacrament of Holy Communion.

If I had the resources to do so, I would offer the Holy Communion (the Holy Eucharist, the Divine Liturgy) every Sunday and Holy Day, if not as the primary service on a given Sunday, then following Mattins, or as an earlier service (a “Morrow Mass,” as it used to be called), for those desiring to receive. The Lord’s Body and Blood should certainly not be withheld, I believe – and least of all on the Lord’s Day – from any baptized Christian who recognizes His presence in it, and wishes to receive!

No love that in the family dwells,
No caroling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare:
That God was Man in Palestine,
And lives today, in Bread and Wine.
– Sir John Betjeman, “Christmas”

Altar Rails and Reverence | liturgy guy

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Altar rails are contributing to the restoration of the sacred and the recovery of reverence within the Holy Mass.

Source: Altar Rails and Reverence | liturgy guy

“(The altar rail) is still a marker of the place where heaven and earth meet, indicating that they are not yet completely united… But, at the same time, the rail is low, very permeable, and has a gate, so it does not prevent us from participating in heaven. So we could say there is a theology of the rail, one which sees it as more than a fence, but as a marker where heaven and earth meet, where the priest, acting in persona Christi, reaches across from heaven to earth to give the Eucharist as the gift of divine life.”

Although coming from a Roman Catholic perspective, this is also applicable to the Anglican tradition. The same trends noted here for the Roman observance – that following Vatican II,

“there were many in the Church who aggressively sought to remove that which was considered traditional and sacred. Gone were the high altars, beautiful Catholic statuary, and of course, altar rails.

“A liturgically misguided attempt at egalitarianism ruled the post-conciliar landscape, one which challenged the very distinction between sanctuary and nave. Overtones of anticlericalism were pervasive, as was a new type of… worship, one intentionally structured for ecumenical purposes.

“By their very presence altar rails hindered the march toward the profane desired by many. With such liturgical innovations as… Communion in the hand, altar rails were an affront to the moderns. In the new, democratic, liturgy kneeling had simply become outdated and uncouth”

– have also been seen, since the Liturgical Movement of the 1960s and 70s, as a major influence within the Episcopal Church, and indeed in most other churches within the Anglican Communion. There has been concern to make the liturgy more “accessible,” and as a result, it has become less sacred. Continue reading “Altar Rails and Reverence | liturgy guy”

Buzz Aldrin Slams ‘First Man’ Movie Censoring American Flag on Moon | YouTube

Many – or most, perhaps all – of my readers may know of the controversy surrounding the new movie, “First Man,” which documents the human story behind Neil Armstrong’s journey to and historic first steps on the Moon, but omits the iconic scene of him planting the American flag on the lunar surface.

Director Damian Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling have insisted that this was not a political statement, and even Neil Armstrong’s sons have “defended the film by saying they didn’t see it as ‘anti-American in the slightest.’” Perhaps not, but Chazelle and company must have had some inkling of how the omission of such a vital and iconic moment would look to observers. It was, at the very least, “bad optics.”

Be that as it may, that is not why I am sharing this video by Dr. Steve Turley: the reason for that is to highlight something else which is never shown and rarely known about this historic first lunar landing: the fact that one of the first actions performed on the Moon’s surface by Armstrong was to receive the Holy Communion! Indeed, the first food eaten and the first liquid drunk on the Moon was the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper.

Give a listen – it’s a great story, and appears about halfway through the video.

On the importance of the Holy Communion

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“When was the Church most impotent? It was in those ages in which the Blessed Sacrament was most misunderstood, most dishonored, most ignored. It was in those times when the Church was overwhelmed by materialism and its officials were time-servers, the least conscious of the supernatural and of the high estate of their calling. And certainly the opposite has been true and is true today. A true spiritual revival has come into the Church when the sacrament of Holy Communion was most honored and revered. The result was not only a deepening of great spirituality, but a revival in inner missions, home missions, and foreign missions. The source of the amazing revivals in the Church which have lasted and spread through the Church and the world is the Holy Communion. It has always been the source of the most amazing things done in the kingdom.”

The Presence, by Berthold von Schenk

This book was first published in 1945, and sadly, the present day – 60+ years later – seems to be another example of “those times when the Church [is] overwhelmed by materialism and its officials [are] time-servers, the least conscious of the supernatural and of the high estate of their calling.” At least, in too many of its branches. But God be thanked, by His grace a revival is always possible!

And God willing, in just a couple more months, I shall be ordained to the priesthood and able to celebrate this most holy and blessed Sacrament! Thanks be to God!