I was checking out news items on the New Advent website and to my surprise there was a link to a website carrying an anecdote about Bishop Fulton Sheen having once spoken at Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral. Afterwards, on their way to lunch, with Schuller in the car, Sheen took a note out from his pocket and asked if they were anywhere near a certain trailer park. Schuller said “Yes, it’s only three miles up the road.” So, pulling up to the address given on the note, the bishop knocks at the door and an elderly women, quite flabbergasted, opens the door and invites him in. Sometime later, Bishop Sheen comes out and returns to Schuller waiting in the car and says: “Now she’s ready for living–in this life and the next.”
No problem believing that story, but it was another one posted on the same Saint Francis de Sales parish website, Non Excidet, that I could not believe. The claim was made by the “Admin,” Father Victor Muzzin, that Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon after Neil Armstrong, had the Holy Eucharist on his person and self-communicated on the moon. Apparently, Aldrin wanted to be the first to do this. This was a serious post, mind you, by a Catholic parish website. I quote: “He took out a small home Communion kit and became the first person to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion on the surface of the moon. This is to say that the event we celebrate this night is the only religious rite in all the world that has been celebrated on the surface of the moon.” (Father Muzzin’s emphasis)
Well, the astronaut, who is an elder in the Presbyterian community, did have a communion wafer with him, but it was not the Body of Christ. It was bread. He also had wine and a chalice. And he, apparently, did take then out of a home communion kit, utter some words of blessing, and consume them on the moon — which I find rather strange, or shall I say — pardon the pun — even looney?
It gets better. The lunar module carrying the Apollo 11 astronauts landed on an area of the moon called The Sea of Tranquillity. (By the way, did you know that thirty-three craters of the moon were named after Jesuit astronomers?) The Grand Lodge to which Brother Aldrin belonged was later renamed Tranquillity Lodge 2000. I have to stop here and let the Texas Masons speak for themselves. If I were to put what follows in my own words, you would think I was exaggerating. The following is from the Tranquillity Lodge 2000 homepage:
“On July 20, 1969, two American astronauts landed on the moon of the planet earth, in an area known as Mare Tranquillitatis, or, “Sea of Tranquillity.” One of those brave men was Brother Edwin Eugene (Buzz) Aldrin, Jr., a member of Clear Lake Lodge No. 1417, AF&AM, Seabrook, Texas. Brother Aldrin carried with him SPECIAL DEPUTATION of then Grand Master J. Guy Smith, constituting and appointing Brother Aldrin as Special Deputy of the Grand Master, granting unto him full power in the premises to represent the Grand Master as such and authorize him to claim Masonic Territorial Jurisdiction for The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Texas, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, on The Moon, and directed that he make due return of his acts. Brother Aldrin certified that the SPECIAL DEPUTATION was carried by him to the Moon on July 20, 1969.
“To commemorate this historic event, and to further solidify and establish Texas Freemasonry on the Moon, it is proposed that a charter be issued to a new Lodge, to be known as Tranquility Lodge No. 2000, and that authorization for such new Lodge and its purposes be granted by the addition of Article 201a, to read as follows:
“Tranquility Lodge 2000 is based in Texas under auspices of The Grand Lodge of Texas until such time as the Lodge may hold its meetings on the Moon. Our meetings are held quarterly at various cities in Texas, with the annual meeting being held in Waco each July.”
Buzz Aldrin grew up in Montclair, New Jersey, which borders my hometown of West Orange. When Aldrin was bouncing around on the moon I was still in high school. Don’t get me wrong. I highly respect the intelligence and courage of Buzz Aldrin, as I do any astronaut. He turned down a full scholarship to MIT to enter the Military Academy at West Point, graduating third in his class of 1951. I honor him for his heroism in flying sixty-six combat missions in the Korean War. I just find it odd that a Presbyterian Freemason would want to be the first man to “communicate” on the moon.
So, would the pastor of Saint Francis Xavier church in NYC please delete the anecdote from your homepage website about Elder Buzz Aldrin’s receiving ” the Sacrament of Holy Communion” on the moon!