Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Have you every realized how much of the ritual of the Mass relies on gravity? Not gravitas – but physical gravity. This came to mind the other day when watching the new Star Trek movie. I was thinking that if this were a Catholic enterprise (pun intended) there would be a crucifix over the door to the bridge, a rosary hanging over the main screen, and a Sacred Heart Auto Club statuette on the railing. There would be a number of problems for a priest on board. For example, who would have jurisdiction for the Enterprise out in space? In some dioceses Ascension Thursday is on – well – Thursday. Other dioceses such as mine has Ascension Thursday Sunday. Catholic are obliged to follow the practice of whatever diocese they happen to be in. So would the Enterprise need to figure out over what exact spot on earth they to figure out what they are to do?

Well, they would have to have their own prelature most probably. A diocese of one congregation. The Diocese of the Final Frontier. But how do you make the Liturgical Calendar and the Star Date calendar collaborate? When instructed to have the Easter Vigil after sundown – how do you figure that out if there is no sun? Or if you happen to be in a solar system with several suns? This is perhaps why they did not have a priest as part of the story line. FAR too complicated.

But I digress. Back to gravity – something we have not come up with a great alternative for in space. It would be virtually impossible to have Mass as we now celebrate it. There would certainly have to be a Missale Romanum – Space Edition that a Pontifical Committee would probably spend the next 12 years trying to produce. Vestments would not work. These big – loose flowing gowns would just float and around. The lavabo would be tricky. How do you pour water over the priest’s hands if it would just come out in a glob and float around? It would be much the same thing for the wine being poured into the chalice. Corporals would be next to useless as the particles of the Eucharist would simply float, not fall to the table top to be captured by it. Sitting works if you are strapped down but what about kneeling and standing?

There is a reason astronauts don’t smoke. Well, maybe two reasons. One is that they tend to be health conscious people. The second is that there is smoke and can’t be good for the sensitive machinery and flames and oxygen tend not to mix very well – or perhaps too well. And it is not like you can just go out for a smoke. So what of candles? Don’t see it happening. Can you imagine wads of hot wax floating around? Then there are processions, incense, sprinkling rites, baptisms, distribution of the Precious Blood, and a host of other things that I have not more of my time thinking of.

It seems to me that if we want more Catholic astronauts these are some things we should consider addressing. I can’t imagine going on a five year mission to seek out new life and new civilizations, boldly going where no man has gone before without Mass.

I’m just saying.

And finally: Just out of curiosity I typed "Mass in space" into Google and this is what I found.


Warren said...

Let me just take a moment to introduce you to new Wham-Co Communion in a Cup.



Gina said...

All I know is, I want to pack my scale and move to the moon.

ck said...


Father Cory Sticha said...

I'd be more than happy to go spend a few months on the International Space Station for the purposes of researching these issues. It'd be a tough assignment, but it's all for the good of the Church and the liturgy.

On a more serious note, I think space travel will be handled like the US military. The military was previously handled as a vicariate under the Archdiocese of New York, but now has it's own archdiocese. There could be the Archdiocese for Extraterrestrial Travel. Once the Moon and Mars are populated enough, they could become their own independent diocese responsible for the planet and all stations and ships in orbit around it.

OK, that wasn't a serious note, but it was fun to think about.

Fr. V said...

You guys crack me up.

Father - You get deep into thinking about before you realize - "What am I wasting my time doing" don't you!?

Anonymous said...

Father V., You really got a lot of mileage for your movie ticket money (homily and blog and thought from your readers).