Christian TraditionsRoman Catholic

The Martian and the Water of Life

There’s a scene in the new hit movie, The Martian, which has likely disturbed some Christians. After realizing he is stranded on Mars for what could be years, Matt Damon’s character Mark Watney realizes he must grow food in able to survive, since the rations will only sustain him for a few months.

He’s a botanist, so at least his knowledge will not fail him. The rations include a few potatoes, sealed and saved for Thanksgiving, which he will be able to plant. The hub from his mission is airlocked, so he will be able to provide the crops with vital oxygen. He even discovers an ingenious way to fertilize his crop.

But he needs water, and there is no easily available water on Mars.

Thanks to his scientific background, Watney is able to calculate the exact chemical equation for creating water out of the some of the minerals available to him. The only thing he needs is fire, yet NASA strictly bans flammable objects and substances on space missions.

However, amongst the remnants from the other crew members, there is a single piece of wood: a wooden crucifix with the hanging body of Christ carved upon it. Watney admits he’d rather not shave it into fire tinder, but hopes that Jesus will understand given the gravity of his circumstances.

Something miraculous happens: with the fire from the wood, Watney beats the odds and is able to create water, gather it on plastic, and water his crops so that they flourish. The food provides him with substanance and life on an inhabitable planet.

Catholics have a series of prayers, recited using the rosary, called the Divine Mercy Chaplet. One of the repeated prayers invokes “O Blood and Water, which gushed forth forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of mercy for us, I trust in you!”

It’s a simple yet astounding theological message: the life-giving mercy of water from the side of Christ upon the cross. From the side of Christ upon the cross poured water and blood, baptism and the Eucharist. In those sacraments, we find life through the mercy of Christ.


Image Courtesy of Fox. 

Laura Norris

Laura Norris

Laura Norris is a Catholic, freelance writer, running coach, and outdoor enthusiast. She holds a master's degree in Theological Studies and now works as a running blogger and coach as, in the words of St. Ignatius Loyola, "a woman for others" in helping others live a healthy life and achieve their goals. She and her husband live on the Eastside of Seattle and spend their time running their own businesses and hiking in the mountains.

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