This section comprises a collection of preliminary reflections and useful ideas — exercises in imagination — to be revisited and refined in tempore opportuno.
Quod postremus in executione
Tamen primus in intentione
~Summa Theologica Ia-IIae, Q.1, Art. 1
In order to create a peaceful, useful, and beneficial path to Contact, it is necessary to carefully, deliberately, and judiciously discern our intentions, which are almost always mixed and complex in ways we fail to recognize.
From a noble and compassionate intention a worthwhile path will arise.
A UNIVERSAL PICTOGRAM
An Act of Thanksgiving for First Contact
With one voice, we offer thanks in this sacred place on this sacred day.
With one mind, we dedicate all that we have seen and all that we have known, as well as all that we have yet to see and all that we have yet to know.
With one heart, we celebrate a mystery that is beyond words, beyond time, and beyond understanding.
-An ever-widening circle
~Our Family grows
adapted from the Praeconium Paschale as found in the Missale Romanum, editio typica
[to be revised with consideration given to poetic structure, style, and meter]
Exultet iam turba nobiscum caelorum
Gaudeat et tellus irradiata tantis fulgoribus
Totius orbis se sentiat amisisse caliginem
Nunc magnis populorum vocibus haec aula resultet
Quapropter adstantes vos, fratres carissimi et sorores, ad tam miram huius sancti luminis claritatem, una mecum, quaeso, pacem et concordiam invocate
Quia haec sunt enim Prima festa Concilia
Haec nox est, quae hodie per universum mundum sed et caelum nos omnes congregat et unam in familiam spiritalem consecrat
O vere beata nox, quae sola meruit scire tempus et horam, familia in qua humana ab inferis resurrexit!
Haec nox est, de qua scriptum est: Et nox sicut dies illuminabitur: et nox illuminatio mea in deliciis meis
Fugat odia, concordiam parat, et curvat imperia
O vere beata nox in qua terrenis caelestia, humanis divina iunguntur!
Sed iam columnae huius praeconia novimus, quam in Primi honorem Concilii rutilans ignis accendit
Qui, licet sit divisus in partes, mutuati tamen luminis detrimenta non novit
Alitur enim liquantibus ceris, quas in substantiam pretiosae huius lampadis apis mater eduxit
Orámus ergo omnes:
ut céreus iste in honórem
pacis et concordiae consecrátus,
ad noctis huius calíginem destruéndam,
Et in odórem suavitátis accéptus,
supérnis lumináribus misceátur.
The United Nations, serving its function as the only single, juridic, and organizational body that represents the planet and its people with authentic moral authority, along with each and every nation on Earth that freely offers consent, will ratify the Treaty of First Contact.
The Treaty will be brief and simple in nature. Those diplomats and other world leaders who draft the text will do well to clothe their minds with the novus habitus mentis of Pope Paul VI.
The first two elements create the conditions that make possible the third element, which is the most important and the only worthwhile, compelling reason for civilizations to come together through Contact. Matters of economy, forms of political governance, etc. should not enter into the Treaty.
The essential elements:
2. Mutual defense
3. Joint mission to propagate and ensure the continuation of life throughout the Universe
Suggested Protocols for First Contact
[Others have already written much on this topic, giving the matter serious consideration according to the light of their particular role or function or specialized knowledge. Let nothing I write suggest disregard for the experience, wisdom, and genuine solicitude that others have already brought to the issue at hand.]
I take as a fundamental premise that the purpose of First Contact with an advanced, intelligent, technological society from beyond the confines of our planet and its atmosphere is basically peaceful. Naturally we will encounter difficulties of communication, as any interaction will per force of necessity involve multiple modes of communication, quite likely in a manner with which we have no experience. Hence, such an occasion as First Contact requires a novus habitus mentis, the new way of thinking suggested by Pope Paul VI.
If the purpose of First Contact is not in fact peaceful, the moment of reckoning will have arrived and there will be no hope at all. Of course, this is entirely unlikely as our planet and our kind are surely not particularly significant nor especially useful to any advanced, intelligent, technological society from beyond the confines of our planet and our solar system.
Unless we will have received some sort of primer or instructional communication in advance, a straightforward, personal gesture of welcome and good will should be the most helpful form of action. Let the usual posturing of heads of state, diplomats, military and religious leaders (and the like) give way to a simple act of interpersonal encounter, the purpose of which is to confirm contact and express no ill purpose on the part of the people of our world.
Visible, manifest, physical gestures (such as prostrations, bows, dance or rhythmic movement), the recitation of sacred texts or poetry, the presentation of simple gifts (such as flowers or the nourishing fruit of the earth), or melodic communication (such as song) should suffice.
Hopefully we will not give way to the old ways of thinking and relating to unfamiliar experiences. We may experience fear in such a seemingly precarious moment, but by acknowledging our fear we will be able to act in kindness, compassion, and genuine concern for the Alien Friends.
We do well to behave like a dog or bird who is eager to engage a stranger; these creatures act with caution, yes, but they act more out of playfulness and curiosity.
Naturally, many things will follow upon First Contact. Let those with useful training and any other competent experts identify protocols relevant to their respective fields of expertise.
Preliminary Notes on a Ritual for First Contact
(original 2014 — in need of revision and updating)
When the event occurs, the experts at the UN, the US State Department, the Pentagon, etc. will have missed the point entirely. In way, that’s their job: one doesn’t attend Harvard to gain a new perspective on reality and one doesn’t rise through bureaucratic ranks by possessing fresh vision. The moment will not be a moment for accords, treaties, agreements, etc. It will be a moment of ritual acceptance of friendship offered and a commitment to a shared future of hope.
Since we have no experience of this sort of thing, we must create a ritual that is useful across cultures and nations, but also useful to the Visitor Friends. The ritual will not only signal our acceptance of their friendship, it will give them an insight into what we value, how we regard ourselves, how we communicate symbolically, etc. It is entirely likely that we misjudge the intelligibility of our customs and conventions. The Ritual will be an instrument of overcoming misunderstanding.
My training is primarily in Western, religious, liturgical symbolism, hence the sources I draw from reflect that. My goal is always to distill principles which are valid quite apart from any religious context, however. I leave it to others to examine other useful traditions.
I will not yet propose any particular ritual. Rather, my intent here is to offer some principles and suggest texts and traditions that may be helpful in the creation of a ritual.
Identify themes, idioms, principles, vocabulary, etc. useful in creating a Ritual for First Contact
Search various Pontificals and Rituals, particularly of royal/imperial sees, for rites dealing with legates, ambassador s, etc.
-Leofric missal (Exeter)?
-Paris late medieval ?
-Medieval Vatican rituale?
Blessings and intercessions in time of drought, famine, war
Rites from Goths, Visigoths, Celts — any records ?
Re-read beginning of Titus Andronicus (Shakespeare)
Traditions of sending and receiving emissaries:
Mormon texts — encounter with Angel Moroni?
Silk Road – recent discoveries ?
Motifs in Paleolithic cave paintings? (visitation of gods)
Re-read Mircea Eliade re: interruption of divine into human realm
Analogs in Sub-Saharan Africa, Americas, aust. aborigines, pacific islands
Something useful in Matteo Ricci?
Ancient — Rome, Egypt (hints in literature, monuments)
Le roi danse (film) — role of dance, movement (see: Zoidberg from Futurama)
Idea of encounter and welcome — not treaties, etc though they may contain useful context, info, vocabulary
Identify themes, idioms, etc
Use distilled principles to create nonsectarian rite
Rite should be simple, adaptable, no need for uniformity
Solemn festival – lengthy duration
Full year – see Jewish jubilee
Other rites that will be useful:
Ritual of Reception
Ritual of Departure
Ritual for Travelers
Ritual of Friendship
Ritual for Times of Difficulty
All of this must be prior to treaties alliances etc
We must establish our priorities and place in the universe
Novus habitus mentis !
Images and icons may be useful also
Syma Alfi’s work is good example of type of contemporary iconography
Liminal moments with unexpected implications
Liturgies of peace — goals & expectations
Obviously end of world/time – everybody got it wrong . What was expectation? What elements are fulfilled? What elements unfulfilled?
Ancient mystery religions:
Images in mithraea?
Muslim apocalyptic literature?
Toward a Liturgy of Encounter
(for use at the occasion of First Contact)
1. Solemn Greeting
2. Litanies/Petitions (declaration of intention)
3. Reading/Lesson (e.g., “Compassion of the Tree”)
4. Exposition (explantion of event)
Rite of Transition
5. Announcement of Sacred Act (e.g., “The doors! The doors!” etc. from Byzantine liturgy)
Veiled/Hidden Rite (performed in private)
6. Sign of peace exchanged (e.g., among delegates)
7. Honoring of Ancestors (Commemoration of Departed Family members)
8. Ratification of Treaty
Rite of Revelation
9. Announcement and Public Presentation of Treaty
10. Transmission/Communication of Treaty to all relevant authorities
Rite of Consent and Missio
11. Reception and Acceptance of Treaty
12. Consent of the People (e.g., 8 minutes of bells, etc.)
13. Mission (commissioning of the Spritual Family)
Followed by regional and local rites, festivals, etc., as well as religious observations.
The guarantors of the treaty (e.g., the Sacred College of Cardinals) will be sent to every nation on Earth to present physical copies of treaty and relevant historical artifacts.
The same guarantors will provide the Alien Friends with personal and physical artifacts.