When Catholicism becomes Invalid


#1

I was reading this article about Malaysia sending a Muslim astronaut into space and the difficulties being experienced by Islamic authorities on how a Muslim could practice Islam (e.g., pray towards Mecca, perform ritual cleaning, etc.) while in outer space. This led me to think about some of the mandates placed on Catholics and how feasible/infeasible such mandates are while in outer space.

For instance, if a pious Catholic were to venture into outer space and find himself in a space station for 5 years, there are certain mandates which could not be fulfilled. A prime example is that a pious Catholic could not receive the Sacrament of Eucharist at least once yearly, in order to be in compliance with Canon Law. Canon 920 S.1 states clearly, “Once admitted to the blessed Eucharist, each of the faithful is obliged to receive holy communion at least once a year.” The lone Catholic in outer space could not fulfill this obligation.

Similarly, Canon 989, on the sacrament of Penance, states: “All the faithful who have reached the age of discretion are bound faithfully to confess their grave sins at least once a year.”

While I’ve tried reasoning that one spaceman’s inability to celebrate the sacraments doesn’t invalidate the whole of Catholicism, I can’t help but think that God would personally hand us a religion capable of being practiced in all occassions by all persons willing to practice.

This thought becomes more real when we see the decreasing numbers of priests being ordained in our seminaries. If one spaceman cannot celebrate the sacraments at least once yearly due to their being no priest in space, what should the world expect when there are no priests?

Catholicism is only valid so long as there are priests to consecrate our bread and absolve us of our sins.


#2

That isn’t how God works. There was only one Temple to offer sacrifice; this didn’t make those Israelites who were faithful not obligated to do so just because they lived far away.


#3

Actually, all he’d have to do is just speak to his bishop before he went I’m sure they could easily work out all of those logistics.


#4

The rules you mention are disciplinary matters which can easily be dispensed with to accomodate new circumstances.
A better question would be what the Catholic Mars colony is to do, if technical considerations make it impractical to cultivate vines or grow wheat.


#5

This is no different than Catholics who lived in remote areas in the 1800s where regular mass attendance and confession were not possible.

It in no way invalidates Catholicism.


#6

Another solution ~ Catholic Priest Astronauts!


#7

Yes but wouldn’t it become more complicated if you had Priest Astronauts in space stations? I mean you’d really have to transform the Mass for space. The altar would be floating around, and we couldn’t use ceboriums or chalices because the body and blood of our Lord would be floating around in zero gravity!

Perhaps the Vatican should pray to the holy spirit to give them guidance on what to modify for a creation of a Space Mass?


#8

Or we just need to invent the inertial dampeners that they use on Star Trek, then nothing floats!

Cheers!


#9

would those even be feesibly possible to make right now?


#10

I think invalidate is the wrong word to be using here. I think what you maybe mean to ask is are there certain circumstances where we are released from various obligations. To that the answer would have to be yes. Obviously if one is floating around in space on All Saints Day, then it would be impossible to attend Mass. In circumstances like that, there are dispensations made, but they must be made before the fact.

Catholicism is never invalid, however there are dispensations for various obligations when meeting those obligations becomes impossible or will cause extreme difficulties.


#11

[quote=gelsbern]Catholicism is never invalid, however there are dispensations for various obligations when meeting those obligations becomes impossible or will cause extreme difficulties.
[/quote]

I find it interesting that most of the solutions to this dilemma suggest that a dispensation is given so that a pious Catholic need not practice. Without receiving the Eucharist at least once yearly, no Catholicism is present.


#12

the astronaut would be in the same position as immigrants and pioneers in older days who were on a new continent without priests to serve them. They would dispensed from these requirements unless and until a priest was available.


#13

There would be no need to modify the Mass but only the vessels. Liquids are kept in pouches for current space travelers. All the priest would need is permission from his bishop to use a pouch instead of a chalice.


#14

My pastor would probably be a good contender… he is already USAF Reserves and is in impeccable shape. I would miss him too much though!


#15

You are being very legalistic. The Eucharist and all the sacraments are there to aid us in our pilgrimage through earth, they are not there to be a burden.

Astronauts and other inviduals that have not access to the sacraments are not obliged to recieve them. The canons apply only to those that have access to them.

Blessings,

E.C.


#16

Explain that to someone with a loved one in an extended coma. Sorry, your mom is excommunicated.:wink: Our God gives us His sacraments as a gift of Love but He is not bound by them. If Catholicism is that legalistic then aren’t we just a bunch of Pharasees questioning the love and infinite mercy of God??

When we are baptized, Catholicism is present. From that point on each of us is on our own to love God in the best way that is possible. If we are shipwrecked or shot into space then God knows that we won’t be at Mass next Sunday and why.

One last point. If there becomes a time when there are no more Catholic priests then the gates of hell prevailed and Jesus’ words were in vain. Don’t think so…:dts:


#17

I know! Transporter beam!

Ok, I’ll stop. :shrug:


#18

What have Catholics done in the various wars? Like WWI and II? Im sure they couldnt always get around.

If they were a soldier or a civilian or a prisoner?

What about the persucated church those meeting in basements, or are they not catholic ??

Life wasnt always so “connected” like today.

What did they do then??


#19

Simple. This Catholic can go to his bishop and ask for a dispensation for all these things before he goes.

While I’ve tried reasoning that one spaceman’s inability to celebrate the sacraments doesn’t invalidate the whole of Catholicism, I can’t help but think that God would personally hand us a religion capable of being practiced in all occassions by all persons willing to practice.

One doesn’t have to go to space to see this. Even here on the surface of the planet, there are Catholics who are suffering from the shortage or absence of priests.

This thought becomes more real when we see the decreasing numbers of priests being ordained in our seminaries. If one spaceman cannot celebrate the sacraments at least once yearly due to their being no priest in space, what should the world expect when there are no priests?

Catholicism is only valid so long as there are priests to consecrate our bread and absolve us of our sins.

Christ will most definitely return before that happens. One thing’s for sure. We will never run out of priests.


#20

IIRC, in the Code of Canon Law, it actually says that ecclesiastical laws are not binding in case of physical or moral impossibility of observing them. So I don’t think you would even need a dispensation. chevalier is studying canon law and may know better than I.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.