‘Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars’

Lunar references from Scripture, the Catechism, prayers, and Catholic moon trivia

Photo of the moon taken during Apollo 11's journey back to Earth. Photo: NASA

The moon is an analogy for the Church

“The Church has no other light than Christ’s; according to a favorite image of the Church Fathers, the Church is like the moon, all its light reflected from the sun” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 748)

St. John Paul II wrote about the mysterium lunae (the mystery of the moon), whereby the Fathers of the Church “employed this image to show the Church’s dependence on Christ, the Sun whose light she reflects. It was a way of expressing what Christ himself said when he called himself the ‘light of the world’ (John 8:12) and asked his disciples to be ‘the light of the world’ (Matthew 5:14)” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, “At the Beginning of the New Millennium,” 54).

United States flag and footprints of astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin on the moon as photographed from Apollo 11’s lunar module. Photo: NASA

Mary and the moon

The Blessed Virgin Mary’s life is often characterized as a moon that reflects the light of her son, Jesus. 

St. Bonaventure, the great Franciscan theologian, taught, “The moon transmits light from the sun to the earth. So Mary gives us the heavenly graces which she receives from the Sun of Justice.” 

In the last century, Ven. Fulton J. Sheen wrote about Mary in his book The World’s First Love: 

God who made the sun, also made the moon. The moon does not take away from the brilliance of the sun. All its light is reflected from the sun. The Blessed Mother reflects her Divine Son; without Him, she is nothing. With Him, she is the Mother of men.

This photo shows the shows the surface of the moon in the vicinity of where Apollo 11’s lunar module landed. Photo: NASA

Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon

St. Francis of Assisi composed the well-known prayer Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon. Here’s an excerpt: 

Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord, All praise is Yours, all glory, all honor and all blessings. 

To you alone, Most High, do they belong, and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.

Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun,

Who is the day through whom You give us light.

And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor,

Of You Most High, he bears the likeness.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,

In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.

Visit CDmag.net/2Vy6PKN to read the entire prayer. 

Photo of Earth taken from Apollo 11 en route to the moon. Most of Africa and parts of Europe and Asia are visible. Photo: NASA

The moon and Sacred Scripture

Here’s a sampling of references to the moon in the Bible: 

Genesis 1:1,14-18; Deuteronomy 4:19; Psalm 8:4-5; Psalm 76:14; Psalm 104:19, Psalm 143:3; Isaiah 66:23; Daniel 3:62; Mark 13:24; Acts 2:20; Revelation 12:1.

When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers,

the moon and stars that you set in place —

What is man that you are mindful of him,

and a son of man that you care for him?

(Psalm 8:4-5)

A portion of east Africa can be seen as photographed from the Apollo 11 spacecraft during the first lunar landing mission. Photo: NASA

Catholic lunar trivia

Galileo was both the first person, and first Catholic, to look at the moon through a telescope.

Thirty-five craters on the moon are currently named for Jesuit astronomers, physicists, and mathematicians. Fr. Joseph MacDonnell, SJ, has painstakingly recorded the details of each Jesuit lunar crater at CDmag.net/2P72Jag.

The moon is under the jurisdiction of the bishop of Orlando (Florida)? Learn more at CDmag.net/2UORzMm.

Patron saints

St. Joseph of Cupertino, a 17th century mystic, priest, and Franciscan who was known for his ability to fly, is the patron saint of astronauts. His feast day is Sept. 18. Learn more at CDmag.net/2EWSzVC.

St. Dominic, a 13th century priest who founded the Order of Preachers (Dominicans), is the patron saint of astronomers. At Dominic’s Baptism, his mother, Bl. Joan of Aza, witnessed a star shining from his chest. His feast day is Aug. 8. Learn more at CDmag.net/31nRkZ0.

Let us pray:

St. Joseph of Cupertino and St. Dominic guide and protect all of the brave men and women who work in spaceflight and those who help us to understand the cosmos. Amen.

To learn more: 

Take a video tour of the moon with NASA at CDmag.net/2KsNhqg.

Fun random facts about the moon at CDmag.net/2ItdFxE.

Where on Earth can you find moon rocks? Download a PDF from NASA at CDmag.net/2UNh6FH.

A view of the Earth appears over the lunar horizon as the Apollo 11 command module comes into view of the moon before astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin leave in the lunar module to land on the moon. Photo: NASA

Read all of our coverage of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing here. 

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