To The Moon and Beyond

Forty-eight years ago today, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon. This epic moment in space travel and research catapulted the profession and related industry of aeronautical engineering, a true boon for education and the economy. Perhaps more importantly, the moon landing captured the imaginations of a generation. From medicine and athletics to technology and oceanography, impossibilities began to fade in an array of fields. The expression If they can put a man on the moon... seemed to be an incentive to push humanity to achieve beyond horizons in every sphere.

In the aftermath of his son’s death from brain cancer, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has launched an ambitious campaign to cure cancer. He is calling it a moonshot. The United Nations has committed to 17 Sustainable Development Goals that include ending extreme poverty and hunger. Many call these a longshot. 

They don’t have to be. In fact, they can’t. The world is in need. 

We need poverty and hunger to end. We need clean water. We need gender equality. We need peace. The list goes on.

Every issue contained in these goals has been addressed by a pope. Our Catholic social teaching impels us to action. Just 50 years ago, Pope Paul VI issued an encyclical letter, Populorum Progressio, and advanced integral human development as a central matter for morality. On the first day of this year Pope Francis created a curial office with the title Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. 

Issues of morality frequently are argued with energy and passion. While plans on how to accomplish such urgent goals can be debated, no argument can be made for the need to address these life-and-death matters. As Christians, we have a Gospel responsibility that comes from heaven and places the essence of the Kingdom of God before us: humanity and creation. 

St. Jane de Chantal, the dear friend and collaborator of St. Francis de Sales once wrote to a priest who was struggling with a daunting task: “Sometimes when our Lord asks us to do some good work, all He really wants is our willingness to do the work, and not its accomplishment. In His goodness, He provides all that is necessary, clears up doubts, and removes all difficulties.” At first glance, these words might suggest that we have little to do except have good intentions. No, this saint, ever the hard worker, was emphasizing the role and power of the grace of God that animates our willingness and brings our good work to completion. 

But, first things first, how strong are our desires for such necessary accomplishments? What occupies our prayer occupies our heart and reveals our heart’s desires.

Let us pray to the Lord.