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  Opinion   Oped  29 Jul 2019  Mystic Mantra: When Edwin Aldrin prayed on the moon

Mystic Mantra: When Edwin Aldrin prayed on the moon

Father Dominic Emmanuel, a founder-member of the Parliament of Religions, can be contacted at frdominic@gmail.com
Published : Jul 29, 2019, 12:10 am IST
Updated : Jul 29, 2019, 12:10 am IST

There were reports then that approximately at the time when Aldrin prayed on the moon, people in his church on earth too celebrated the Eucharist.

July 20, 1969 Photo when astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the moon during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity (EVA). - On July 21, 1969, US astronaut Neil Armstrong is the first man to step onto the Moon, his teammate Edwin Aldrin joining him around 20 minutes later. (Photo: AFP | File)
 July 20, 1969 Photo when astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the moon during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity (EVA). - On July 21, 1969, US astronaut Neil Armstrong is the first man to step onto the Moon, his teammate Edwin Aldrin joining him around 20 minutes later. (Photo: AFP | File)

Praise God from heaven… from the mountaintops. Praise him, all you angels… Praise him, sun and moon… you morning stars… high heaven… heavenly rain clouds…”, says the Bible. Francis of Assisi serenaded, “Brother Sun and Sister Moon”. Planets and stars have been always held in awe and wonder, inspiring many a poet to take flights of fancy and ending up composing delightful verses.

But none of them ever imagined then that one day, man would actually walk on the moon, as it happened exactly 50 years ago this month. Fantastic celebrations, particularly in America, are going on to commemorate the first steps of Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin Aldrin on that distant celestial body that lights up our nights. I am not sure if the successful launch of Chandrayaan-2 into orbit is also part of that celebration. And why would it not, since the first words heard on the moon and relayed to earth, were, “That’s one small step for man, a giant leap for mankind.” We were all included in Armstrong’s utterance then.

 

What was, however, not broadcast then but revealed later was Aldrin reading from the Bible and performing an exclusive Christian ritual — the Holy Communion — up there. He knew that what they achieved on that mission transcended electronics, computers and rockets and that “it was kind of a communion with God — about reaching beyond humanity, and about putting faith not only in science, but in the aid of a higher power”. The Gospel passage, audible only to Neil Armstrong and the ground staff, sprang out of his conviction in Jesus’ proclamation, “…for you can do nothing without me”.

There were reports then that approximately at the time when Aldrin prayed on the moon, people in his church on earth too celebrated the Eucharist. He would later write, “he hadn’t considered whether it was right to make his worship explicitly Christian”, and “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.”

 

I am sure, if instead of Aldrin, there was a Hindu, a Muslim, a Sikh, a Jain or someone of any other faith, he would have first thought of thanking his beloved Lord. I have absolutely no doubt that throughout the Chandrayaan-2 launch preparations, most scientists and collaborators, determined to make an absolute success of it, devoutly engaged in their own expressions of unrelenting faith in the Divine.

Besides, the Chandrayaan team, undoubtedly, was the most multi-religious team ever, stung by the “Moon Love Bug”. Like Aldrin, they probably prayed, “Lord, without you, we can do nothing. Help us succeed in our mission”. And bingo, they did indeed!

 

Tags: mystic mantra, edwin aldrin