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Feed My Sheep
Feed My Sheep
Jesus replied, "Blest are you, Simon son of Jonah!  No mere man has revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.  I for my part declare to you, you are 'Rock', and on this rock I will build my church, and the jaws of death shall not prevail against it."
Matthew chapter 16, verses 17-18.

Jesus came forward and addressed them in these words: "Full authority has been given to me both in heaven and on earth; go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations.  Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you.  And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world!"
Matthew chapter 28, verses 18-20.

A third time Jesus asked [Peter], "Simon, son of John, do you love me?"  Peter was hurt because he had asked a third time, "Do you love me?"  So he said to him: "Lord, you know everything.  You know well I love you."  Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep."
John chapter 21, verse 17.

Karen slid out from under the console.  "Well Abbot, all systems green.  We will be able to take off on schedule."

The Abbot nodded.  "I will be sure to inform the brethren."

She smiled, and extricated herself from the console sling.  No one had been certain if they could create inertial dampers, so everything had been designed to do without.

Just as well really, she thought to herself.  Getting four spacecraft built had been bad enough, trying to also fit them with dampers would have been infeasible at best.

Leaving the main building, she made a beeline for the guesthouse.  It wasn't long before she was swarmed by children, eyes alight with excited questions.

"Are we going to fly?"

"Are we going to go to space?"

"Are we going to go to mars?"

"Are we going to leave the solar system?"

Karen laughed.  "We're going to be flying until we leave Earth's atmosphere, we will go to space, we won't go to mars or leave the solar system.  We are going to enter a high earth orbit and stay there until we complete Redwall, and then we'll move into Redwall and the monks will go orbit Jupiter."

The children stared at her in delight.  Before they could think of any more questions, Martha came over.  "There you are!  Shouldn't you be in class?  Off with you, and stop bothering Karen!"

They ran off, hopefully to find the schoolmaster, and Martha watched them go.  "I do hope the dibbuns didn't bother you too much, they've been chattering about nothing but whether we would take off."

"Oh, they were no trouble," Karen said.  "You're using dibbun already, Martha?"

Martha gave her a look.  "Karen, this is Loamhedge Abby and we have plans for building Redwall.  I figured I might as well get started early."

Karen shrugged.  "Good point.  I'm going to make sure I've got my things stowed away properly."

Martha nodded in acknowledgement, and the two women went on their ways.

Karen entered the guesthouse and went up to her room.  She made a quick check around the room for any loose objects.

Bed covers?  Snugly tucked under the mattress, which itself rested directly on the floor.  Check.

Books?  All tightly packed.  Check.

Clothes?  All folded and packed into boxes.  Check.

Mary grotto?  Disassembled and packed.  Check.

Growth light?  Packed.  Check.

Aloe Vera plant?  Pot covered around plant and secured to the window bracket.  Check!

The last thing to do was to pack away her alarm clock.  Once that was done, she checked the time.  Two hours to take off.

As she left the guesthouse, she took a moment to gaze at the structure of Loamhedge.  How the bell tower formed the central spire, the flying buttresses that shaped the currently inactive force field, the wall that formed the outer edge of Loamhedge, and the Gothic-style stonework.  It was strange to think that they had only been able to use the Gothic style - or perhaps not.  It was a style of rising towers and stones reaching for the sky, after all.  What could be more natural then for those stones to break free from Earth and climb into the sky?

Karen shook her head to clear it.  This was no time for philosophy, there was still work to do.  After all, they would only get one shot at this.

It was thirty minutes to take-off, and the Abbot was leading them all in prayer.

"... Dear St. Christopher, you have inherited a beautiful name, Christ bearer, as a result of a wonderful tradition that while carrying people across a raging stream you also carried the child Jesus.  Teach us to be true Christ bearers to those who do not know Him.  Since you have been chosen to be the Patron Saint of all travelers, we humbly implore your powerful intercession for the blessing of safe journeys.  Protect all who often transport those who bear Christ within them and intercede for us to Jesus and guard us with your prayers.  May we travel safely in space and carefully follow the pathways of life until we reach our goal in heaven and may we then join you and all the Saints in praising God forever and ever.  Amen."

The congregation then arose and went to their work.  Karen went into the basement of the main building, to the control center of the mechanical aspects of Loamhedge's mission.

Twenty minutes to take-off.  She slid the launch sling into the console and fastened herself in to run the final flight checks.  Above her, the Abbot organized the community as they prepared to take off.

Fifteen minutes to take-off.  Karen switched on the comm link to the Vatican.  "Saint John, this is Loamhedge calling, confirm all systems are go, we can leave at any time."

"Copy that Loamhedge, stand by for take-off."

"Standing by."  Karen stopped talking, but did not switch off the comm.

Ten minutes to take-off.  "Loamhedge, this is Saint John calling, switch to comm all."

"Switching to comm all."

Five minutes to take-off.  "Loamhedge, this is Saint John calling all comms, do you read me?"

"Loud and clear."  Karen listened to the take-off controller call the three Jesuit spacecraft.

T-minus twenty-five.  Reactor online.

T-minus twenty.  Force field active.

T-minus fifteen.  All primary space systems online.

T-minus ten.  All back-up and secondary systems online.

T-minus five...





Lift-off!  Loamhedge's main drive roared to life as she activated it, pushing her back into her seat.  She felt the acceleration of the ship as it parted with the Earth and headed skyward to space.  An outside observer would have knocked off their feet by the seismic shock of it ripping free, buffeted by the wind of its passing, and thoroughly awed by the sight of the stones reaching higher and higher into the sky they yearned for.  They would be somewhat less impressed with the shower of loose dirt it trailed in its wake.

"All ships, this is Saint John, confirm take-off and switch to comm single."

"This is Loamhedge, take-off confirmed."  Karen put her hand on the switch, but did not immediately switch to comm single.

"This is Saint Francis Xavier, take-off confirmed."  That was one...

"This is Saint Isaac, take-off confirmed."  Two...

"This is Father Marquette, take-off confirmed."  Three.  That was all of them.  She switched to comm single.

The transfer orbit went smoothly, and she soon had it settled in the intended orbit.  She switched off the comm and went outside the building to take a look at the new surroundings.

She looked up at the force field, and stopped dead in her tracks.  "Well, that wasn't what what happened last time."

"What isn't?" asked Martha.

Karen pointed up at the force field.  "It wasn't opaque green when we tested it, it was a transparent iridescent gold.  Looked a bit like a golden bubble."

Martha looked up and saw that the force field could have passed for the sky on Earth if it wasn't green.  "It's very pretty."

Karen nodded.  "Working properly too.  It's not a problem, just a mite odd."

The Prime Minister of Canada looked up from the report in shock.

"The Pope did WHAT!?"

The woman who had delivered the report took a moment to reply.  "He permitted the launch of religious communities into space."


She nodded.  "A Benedictine monastery and three Jesuit missions."  She paused for a bit.  "It is possible that more were launched when those took off, but those are all that could be confirmed."


"I imagine they used Handwavium."

He nodded, and went back to reading the report.  His eyes went wide again.  "What's this about 'unaffiliated lay people and clergy'!?"

She took a deep breath.  "It seems that everyone directly involved with this went along for the ride, including immediate family members and three bishops."


"I don't know, something about setting up an archdiocese out there."


She shrugged.  "Our source said that they were going to 'provide proper spiritual care to Catholic Fen and spread the Good News to all who seek'."

He looked at the report again.  "They launched an actual monastery!?"

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