From the Daily Mail:

Revealed: Buzz Aldrin took Holy Communion on the MOON (but NASA kept it secret)

Former astronaut Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin may have been the second man to walk on the moon, but he was the first – and only – person to celebrate Holy Communion on it.
Inside the lunar module just hours before following Neil Armstrong onto the heavenly body in 1969, Aldrin celebrated the Christian sacrament with wafers and a bottle of wine – a fact the U.S. government reportedly refused to make public at the time.
The Apollo 11 astronaut’s plan to broadcast the religious act back to Earth was blocked by NASA after an atheist filed a lawsuit complaining about a previous holy broadcast on the Apollo 8.

Holy Communion is a Christian act of worship in which parishioners recreate the last meal Jesus had with his disciples, known as the Last Supper.
Before stepping out of the module, Aldrin pulled out a small plastic container of wine and some bread which he had brought from Webster Presbyterian church near Houston, where he was an elder.
Aldrin had received permission from the Presbyterian church’s general assembly to administer it to himself.


You can read the rest there.

For more about who is Bishop of the Moon, go HERE.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. APX says:

    Somehow I knew it wasn’t going to be real Holy Communion. Such would never be approved by the Church.

  2. jacobi says:

    “but he was the first – and only – person to celebrate Holy Communion on it.”

    No he wasn’t. He did not celebrate or consume Holy Communion, that is the Body Blood Soul and Divinity of Christ under the appearance of bread and wine.
    What he may have done was to consume an ordinary wafer and some ordinary wine which, presumably, a Protestant minister had given him.

  3. Charivari Rob says:

    …and the Daily Mail just found out? This story has been out for years!

  4. Aegidius says:

    After joining the Moon sect, poor bishop Milingo might qualify as first bishop of the Moon.

  5. eulogos says:

    For what seems like the 100th time, may I cite the Decree on Ecumenism:
    Moreover, some and even very many of the significant elements and endowments which together go to build up and give life to the Church itself, can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church: the written word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, and visible elements too. All of these, which come from Christ and lead back to Christ, belong by right to the one Church of Christ.

    The brethren divided from us also use many liturgical actions of the Christian religion. These most certainly can truly engender a life of grace in ways that vary according to the condition of each Church or Community. These liturgical actions must be regarded as capable of giving access to the community of salvation.

    It follows that the separated Churches(23) and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.
    See the middle paragraph. The liturgical action of a Presbyterian communion may be a means of grace for Presbyterians, and furthermore, may GIVE ACCESS TO THE COMMUNITY OF SALVATION. Apart from baptism, which we have long known gives access to the community of salvation even when performed by heretics, what liturgical action makes us part of the community of salvation? The Eucharist.

    Does this mean we know that the elements of Presbyterian Holy Communion are the Body and Blood of Christ? No. But I think it means that we don’t know either that they are not. We know that the Presbyterian Holy Communion service can be a means of grace for Presbyterians, and that it may also fulfill the purpose of uniting them to the community of salvation, ie, the Church. So, please, let’s all stop with the “it is just ordinary bread and wine” stuff. God is not bound by the ordinary rules for bringing about His presence, even though we are. We don’t know exactly how He arranges to be present to Presbyterians, but I think we can be pretty sure that He arranges to be present in some way when they have a Holy Communion service.

    What seems odd to me is that Presbyterians allowed the reservation of the elements, and thought there was some validity to receiving them outside of the context of a Holy Communion service. This is not in the Calvinist tradition at all. Calvin could not comprehend how the presence of the risen Christ could be locally comprehended in the elements, but said that in receiving them, the Christian was, as it were, transported to heaven, to the presence of Christ. But this was only understood to happen within the context of a Holy Communion service; it was not understood to perdure in the elements after the service was over. So it isn’t clear what taking the elements to the moon and receiving them there would mean to a Presbyterian. It actually shows a more Catholic sensibility regarding the Eucharist.
    Susan Peterson

  6. Suburbanbanshee says:

    If folks haven’t been following Peter J. Floriani’s excellent near-future sf series about the reestablishment of a Catholic celibate order of knights, the 13th book came out this year. It’s called Et in Luna Pax, and tells the tale of the first papal visit to the Moon.

  7. mamajen says:

    Wow, I didn’t know atheists were up to that stuff even back then.

  8. Ryan says:

    I’m sure this has been mentioned here before but on a related note, but the Blessed Sacrament was brought and received on the shuttle .

  9. acardnal says:

    I guess the “Man in the Moon” GAVE Aldrin communion because no one can self-communicate.

  10. acardnal says:

    …other than a validly ordained Catholic priest, of course.

  11. Hank Igitur says:

    So he ate bread and drank wine, not the Sacred species.

  12. Athelstan says:

    The Apollo 11 astronaut’s plan to broadcast the religious act back to Earth was blocked by NASA after an atheist filed a lawsuit complaining about a previous holy broadcast on the Apollo 8.

    The lawsuit, of course, was one filed by notorious atheist activist Madalyn Murray-O’Hair, in response to the decision of the crew of Apollo 8 to read from the first lines of the Book of Genesis from orbit around the Moon on Christmas, 1968. The suit was dismissed in federal court for lack of standing, but it put NASA in a defensive mood.

    Buzz Aldrin, during the final planning of Apollo 11, wanted to make a similar gesture. Aldrin was an elder in his local Presbyterian church in Houston, and by all accounts, quite devout. He recounts in his book Magnificent Desolation what happened when he approach the Director of flight crew operations, Deke Slayton, with his idea to broadcast his self-communication of communion once he was one the surface. Slayton replied: “No, that’s not a good idea, Buzz. Go ahead and have communion, but keep your comments more general.” Which is just what Aldrin did when the time came. It’s not like anyone at NASA could have *stopped* Aldrin from doing so, and they would not have been willing to cut his mike at such a historic moment; but Aldrin complied anyway.

    The incident became public knowledge before long, however. It is well depicted in the 1998 HBO docu-drama “From the Earth to the Moon.”

  13. jacobi says:

    God is not bound by rules, but we are bound by God’s rules as expressed through the Magisterium of his Catholic Church, in Continuity.

    The issue here is the validity of the Ordained Priesthood. This is understood as valid in the special situation of the “Eastern Churches”

    At the Protestant Reformation, the Protestants rejected the concept of the Ordained Priesthood and the Real Presence and also rejected intent thereto. Therefore any wafer from a minister of a Presbyterian ecclesial body, is just that, a wafer and nothing more, and the Church clearly so teaches.

    The special case of the Anglican Communion is mentioned in Unitatis Redintegratio. Nevertheless, Anglican orders are invalid and Anglican clergymen wishing to become Catholic priests have to be re-ordained.

    I have no doubt that that a Protestant communion service can be a vehicle of grace – but then so can helping an old lady across the road.

    Unitatis Redintegratio is a waffly document which makes no attempt to speak infallibly, so it is not the authoritative place to look in considering such matters. As the document itself, says the Protestant bodies are so different from us and so varied that,

    “we have no intention of making such an attempt here.”

  14. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear Eulogos,

    These paragraphs do not refer to the Eucharist, but, rather, things like prayers, weddings, etc. In fact, the last sentence you cite:

    “For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.”

    specifically argues against the possibility of their Eucharists being a part of the community of salvation (think of this as a common patrimony), because in order to derive their efficacy from the Church, they must have what makes the Eucharist effective within the Church, namely, a valid priesthood. Now, other things, such as prayers, weddings, etc., do not require a valid priesthood and, therefore, can draw on the grace and truth entrusted to the Church, but part of the truth entrusted to the Church is that a valid Eucharist requires a valid priesthood in order for its efficacy.

    Now, as an anamnesis, these sorts of Protestant Eucharists might be effective in raising the mind to prayer and through that prayer they might gain access to the community of salvation, but they gain no access to the community of salvation through the Eucharist, per se, since the community of salvation is precisely that – a community – a united community and only the real Eucharist is a sign of that unity necessary for the community of salvation.

    The phrase, “community of salvation,” is a bit vague. In the Latin, it is: ingressum in salutis communionem, which, properly speaking, should be translated as, “ingress (access, entrance) into the communion of salvation,” which is a bit ironic, in this case. A similar expression is used in the CCC, 1220:

    “Propter hunc symbolismum, Baptismus communionem cum morte Christi significat.”

    which is translated as:

    “By this symbolism Baptism signifies communion with Christ’s death.”

    It is unclear that the English rendered is quite accurate to the meaning of the passage. Specifically, those aspects of other eccelsial communities which establish a communion with the Church can confer grace. Communion is, in a specific sense, not one of them, although it may be in a more general sense.

    Unitatis Redintegratio (Decree on Ecumenism) and indirectly in Lumen Gentium speak to this issue. In UR 8.3 it says:

    “Yet worship in common (communicatio in sacris) is not to be considered as a means to be used indiscriminately for the restoration of Christian unity. There are two main principles governing the practice of such common worship: first, the bearing witness to the unity of the Church, and second, the sharing in the means of grace.”

    It is precisely in the Eucharist that unity and grace meet and it is precisely in the Eucharist that these two elements fail in forming a communion of salvation, since, in fact, the Eucharist is a source of disunity between the Church and other ecclesial bodies.

    That the Eucharist is, in fact, excluded from forming a communion of salvation in an Ecumenical sense is made clear further in the document (UR 22.1):

    “Baptism therefore establishes a sacramental bond of unity which links all who have been reborn by it. But of itself Baptism is only a beginning, an inauguration wholly directed toward the fullness of life in Christ. Baptism, therefore, envisages a complete profession of faith, complete incorporation in the system of salvation such as Christ willed it to be, and finally complete ingrafting in eucharistic communion.”

    UR 22.1 goes on to discuss the Eucharist with regards to other ecclesial communities:

    “Though the ecclesial Communities which are separated from us lack the fullness of unity with us flowing from Baptism, and though we believe they have not retained the proper reality of the eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Orders, nevertheless when they commemorate His death and resurrection in the Lord’s Supper, they profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and look forward to His coming in glory. Therefore the teaching concerning the Lord’s Supper, the other sacraments, worship, the ministry of the Church, must be the subject of the dialogue.”

    In fact, UR 22.3 specifically refers to the Protestant recognition of the Eucharist as anamnesis, not sacrament. So, as to getting grace from their Eucharist: not so much. They get grace, indirectly, from the rising of the mind to the hope held in store for them in Heaven, of which the Eucharist is a foretaste. It is like the difference between receiving hope by looking at a picture of your spouse versus actually hugging your spouse – yes, you gain something from looking at the picture, but it is a pale comparison compared to the actual experience.

    This desire for unity is echoed in the Decree on the Eucharist (Session XIII) of the Council of Trent:

    “Finally, the holy council with paternal affection admonishes, exhorts, prays and beseeches through the bowels of the mercy of our God, that each and all who bear the Christian name will now at last agree and be of one mind in this sign of unity, in this bond of charity, in this symbol of concord, and that, mindful of so great a majesty and such boundless love of our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave His own beloved soul as the price of our salvation and His own flesh to eat,[40] they may believe and venerate these sacred mysteries of His body and blood with such constancy and firmness of faith, with such devotion of mind, with such piety and worship, that they may be able to receive frequently that super-substantial bread and that it may truly be to them the life of the soul and the perpetual health of their mind; that being invigorated by its strength, they may be able after the journey of this miserable pilgrimage to arrive in their heavenly country, there to eat, without any veil, the same bread of angels[41] which they now eat under sacred veils.”

    The Chicken

  15. Supertradmum says:

    Well, obviously not valid, but, I like the gesture just the same. That an astronaut would be so humble as to want to commemorate the most staggering event on earth, the Crucifixion and Redemption of Mankind, and the action of memorial given to us, is wonderful. How great it would have been if a Catholic priest could have said Mass on the Moon. Now, that would be a giant leap for mankind, for sure. Every time I look at the full moon when it is very bright, I am reminded of the Sacred Host. With a Mass on the Moon, that symbolism would be even more awesome. However, at this stage, we shall be fortunate to have Mass on earth is some areas in a few years.

  16. The Masked Chicken says:

    Perhaps NASA would be less falling apart if they did have more recourse to prayer. When Apollo 13 was in danger of being lost, the Pope called for worldwide prayer.

    By the way, who is the patron saint for astronauts?

    The Chicken

  17. The Masked Chicken says:

    Aldrin’s words:

    “This is the LM [Lunar Module] pilot speaking. I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way.”

    Aldrin’s way of giving thanks was to gently pour the wine into the chalice. He then recited—silently, as NASA had requested — John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches…. Without me you can do nothing.”


    The Chicken

  18. Supertradmum says:

    St. Joseph Cupertino, one of my personal patrons, is patron of astronauts, as he levitated. I love him dearly.

  19. James Joseph says:

    Who has jurisdiction over the moon is related to something I toy with from time to time…

    Shouldn’t Brazil and Fall River, Massachusetts be the Rite of Braga instead of strictly Roman?

    Shouldn’t South Carolina and the rest of the Spanish Main be the Rite of Toledo, or at the very least some pre-Tridentine rite?

    Then… there is this… the Patriarch of the West Indies (sede vacante)

  20. Sam says:

    acardnal says:
    22 July 2013 at 6:10 pm
    “I guess the “Man in the Moon” GAVE Aldrin communion because no one can self-communicate.”

    What should I say to my friend who brings communion to the sick and homebound? If she has an extra host that someone that we are visiting cannot consume, she consumes it herself when the church is closed.

  21. acardnal says:

    Aaahh, but the EMHC was given the authority to do so by the Church in the absence of a priest in order to protect the Eucharist. She is a “minister”. I am referring to Catholic Eucharist.

  22. acardnal says:

    Catholics do not “take” Holy Communion, they “receive” Holy Communion.

  23. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    I remember the depiction in the 1998 HBO docu-drama “From the Earth to the Moon” (as released on VHS), but do not remember it being clear he was a Presbyterian, nor exactly how it was depicted and explained (as a ‘celebration’, or as a ‘partaking’, or just how?). It is interesting to read more about it, now, but Eulogos raises a lot of points about Presbyterian/’Reformed’ ecclesiology/theology that are not clearly explained in any report I’ve seen. For instance, there was a controversy between the English ‘Settlement’ and ‘Genevan(-minded)’ reformations about valid baptism by laymen (including women), which Calvin attacked and Hooker defended. And there are ‘Reformed churches’ today which only recognize a baptism performed by a ‘duly ordained minister’ (including a Catholic priest) as valid. There are also Presbyterians and ‘Reformed’ who consider baptism as admitting to Communion even prior to ‘confirmation’. There are ‘Reformed’ with extraordinary formal paths to the ministry as well as the ordinary (which includes academic theological education and qualification). Was ‘Buzz’ Aldrin perhaps extraordinarily ‘elevated’ from being an Elder to being a Minister for the occasion?

    Somewhat tangentially, R.H. Benson’s autobiography is interesting in this context (and available, scanned, at the Internet Archive).

  24. Mark H. says:

    Just so it’s out there, not all Protestants deny Real Presence. Anglicans and Lutherans maintained it quite vigorously. Luther famously refused to try to unite with Zwingli because Zwingli denied the Real Presence. Luther wrote many treatises on the Real Presence and against those who denied it. He may have criticized transubstantiation on the grounds that it philosophized a bit much, but he never denied that Christ’s True Body and Blood are present on the altar in the bread and the wine and was (typical to Luther) adamant about it to the point of polemic. And he famously said he would rather drink Christ’s blood with the pope than mere wine with the Zwinglians. So, the distinction needs to be made in fairness about which Protestants deny or maintain Real Presence.
    Being Lutheran, its my own personal marker for seeing if a tradition under the heading “Protestant” is able to be labeled as such since Real Presence was maintained from the early Church and cannot be compromised.
    Likewise, we receive, we do not take, communion.

  25. otsowalo says:

    Ah… This is a dated article, but I guess it’s still related to the post. :) NASA Catholics Mark 50 Years

  26. mrsmontoya says:

    How wonderful! Thank you Father for posting this!

  27. Michael_Thoma says:

    As the moon “rises” in the East and sets to the West, of course jurisdiction belongs to the either the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East (Melkite, Syriac, or Maronite), or the Catholicos of all the East (Chaldean or Syro-Malankara)… the first Patriarch or Catholicos to get their Tradition to the Moon first wins!

  28. AvantiBev says:

    How much joy and comfort we give to the militant atheists when we squabble among ourselves as Christians. The point of the story in my opinion is that a courageous explorer of devout Christian faith was squashed from saying anything specifically Christ centered from the moon for fear of OFFENDING atheists. We gave another inch of ground in 1969 and so it went for the past 44 years and so it still goes as Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Association are nibbled away.

    And for the life of me, I cannot understand why atheists who say that God is a fantasy akin to the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy ARE offended by even the mention of Him. If they were truly atheistic, His Name would bother them as much as a depiction of the Easter bunny on a Hallmark card.

  29. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    “I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks…” – “Gratias agamus…” “Qui habet aures audiendi, audiat.”

    Sadly, he is quoted inTime as later writing in his memoir, ” “Perhaps if I had it to do over again, I would not choose to celebrate communion. Although it was a deeply meaningful experience for me, 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. But at the time I could think of no better way to acknowledge the enormity of the Apollo 11 experience than by giving thanks to God.”
    But, presumably most – ? many -? – Presbyterians still confess the teaching of the Nicene Creed, “Qui propter nos homines et propter nostram salutem […] Homo factus est”!

    acardnal says, “Aaahh, but the EMHC was given the authority to do so by the Church in the absence of a priest in order to protect the Eucharist. She is a ‘minister’. I am referring to Catholic Eucharist.” Might an astronaut be similarly given the authority? With respect to Sanguis as well as to Corpus?

    Tangentially, acardnal says, “Catholics do not ‘take’ Holy Communion, they ‘receive’ Holy Communion.” And Mark H. adds, “Likewise, we receive, we do not take, communion.” Yet I have a Missal before me which repeatedly translates “Accipite”, “Take ye” – ?

  30. acardnal says:

    “Accipite” is the priest speaking in persona Christi.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) uses the terms “receive” and “receiving” innumerable times with regard to communion. I am unaware of the use of “take” or “taking” ever being used. Although it sometimes happens in the OF, the communicant should not take the sacred host or the cup of precious blood from the priest’s hands but receive it as gift.

    Herewith just one of many explications of “receiving” holy communion in the CCC; even referencing “accipite”:
    CCC 1383 – ff:
    ” . . . Thus the Roman Church prays in its anaphora: (1182)
    We entreat you, almighty God,
    that by the hands of your holy Angel
    this offering may be borne to your altar in heaven
    in the sight of your divine majesty,
    so that as we receive in communion at this altar
    the most holy Body and Blood of your Son,
    we may be filled with every heavenly blessing and grace.

    “Take this [accipite] and eat it, all of you”: communion

    1384 The Lord addresses an invitation to us, urging us to receive him in the sacrament of the Eucharist: “Truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (2835)

    1388 It is in keeping with the very meaning of the Eucharist that the faithful, if they have the required dispositions, receive communion when they participate in the Mass. As the Second Vatican Council says: “That more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the faithful, after the priest’s communion, receive the Lord’s Body from the same sacrifice, is warmly recommended.”

  31. acardnal says:

    The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), Section “Norms For The Distribution And Reception Of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds In The Dioceses Of The United States Of America” states:

    “50. The communicant, including the extraordinary minister, is never allowed to self-communicate, even by means of intinction. Communion under either form, bread or wine, must always be given by an ordinary or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.”

  32. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Thank you for all the detail! Do you have any idea if there has been a growing care through time to use “receive” as consistently as possible (also in translating forms of ‘accipere’) to avoid any danger of understanding “take” as if it meant ‘self-communicate’? Might the translation of “Accipite” as “Take ye” then represent an older, less methodically circumspect usage?

    For example, I see in the 1920 Dominican translation of the Summa, that in IIIa q. 79 a. 2 arg. 2, they translate “accipiunt hoc sacramentum” with “take this sacrament” while in a. 2 ad 2 they translate both “suscipiunt” and “accipiunt” with “receive”.

    In trying to look further into this question of acccurate and proper English usage, I encountered this in a translation of St. Basil of Caesarea’s letter on Communion (Letter 93 as presented at New Advent), “It is needless to point out that for anyone in times of persecution to be compelled to take the communion in his own hand without the presence of a priest or minister is not a serious offense, as long custom sanctions this practice from the facts themselves. All the solitaries in the desert, where there is no priest, take the communion themselves, keeping communion at home. And at Alexandria and in Egypt, each one of the laity, for the most part, keeps the communion, at his own house, and participates in it when he likes. For when once the priest has completed the offering, and given it, the recipient, participating in it each time as entire, is bound to believe that he properly takes and receives it from the giver. And even in the church, when the priest gives the portion, the recipient takes it with complete power over it, and so lifts it to his lips with his own hand. It has the same validity whether one portion or several portions are received from the priest at the same time.” I have not tried to look up the Greek original or an authorized Latin translation, but, to paraphrase a clause, this seems an explanation of ‘properly “taking” as receiving’.

Comments are closed.