Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Faith in Space

There is going to be an interesting interview with NASA Astronaut Thomas Johns in the October 5th issue of the National Catholic Register. I had previously thought of the fact that an astronaut misses Mass while in space, but never considered that they might still be able to receive communion while on a mission. Just didn't think of it. Here is the portion of the article related to that:

You’re a Catholic who has spent a lot of time in space. Were you able to receive Communion up there?

Yes. The first trip was the best. It was a really special moment. On my first trip there were three Catholics — myself, Kevin Chilton and Sid Gutierrez. Kevin was a fellow parishioner at St. Bernadette’s in Houston and was a Eucharistic minister. The first Sunday we were in space we were too busy, but on the second Sunday, the three of us received Christ just before dawn, just as this spray of brilliant sunlight lit us up.

It was almost simultaneous with receiving the host. Tears came to my eyes from the beauty of that moment. Then there was the brilliant blue of the ocean. We all shared in that inspiration. Kevin described it as the blue of the Virgin’s veil.

On my other flights, I think I might have been the only Catholic. I would carry the Eucharist in my space suit pocket on launch and all the way up into orbit and then put it in my clothes. In free-fall, things tend to wander off; you don’t want to lose Jesus.

Johns wrote a book entitled "Sky Walking: An Astronaut’s Memoir" that discusses how his faith has impacted his life.

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