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.