A Comedian's Advice for the Ecumenical Movement from Outer Space,
or, the real meaning of the phrase "Klaatu barada nikto"
There is only one basis for the Ecumenical Movement, that hope of those who believe in the possibility of the phrase, "That They May Be One."
That basis lies not in sentimentality. Sentimentality makes for modern political parties, denominational conventions addressed by Sponge Bob Square Pants and even jihadists. But it does not make for Christian ecumenicity, because time wears away, like the wind and the wave, all stands built on the strand.
That basis, also, lies not in the Eucharist alone. For one thing, the Eucharist cannot be isolated from Divine Liturgy, nor can it be separated from the doctrine of the community. Here is, I suspect, a clear indication of the difference between "Holy Mystery" and "Sacrament." The latter has an independent objectivity about it, almost like a radical. The former is of a piece with ethos and theology. It is a sad thing, surely, and a feeble hope bound for disappointment: at least from the point of view of outer space, it seems that this idea of Eucharistic Ecumenicism looks upon the sacrament as a sort of talisman, like a platonic cube that gathers, inexorably, all things to itself. It is not. The Eucharist is not magic. It is the Body of Christ. It is the Presence of Person.
The basis of Christian Ecumenicity lies nowhere else, and in no other way, than in the continuing catholic consciousness of the church -- the contemporary presence of the Apostolic Tradition.
It will not be brought about by negotiation, or by the "setting aside until later" of difficult doctrinal matters, or by subjecting doctrinal differences to semantic obscurantism. It will not be brought about by jurisdictional unity. It will not be brought about by coalition building. We should all be nice, to be sure, and protest against totalitarianism and abortion. But let's not kid ourselves by thinking that we're building One Church.
It will come only as we pray, and become, "Thy Will be done on earth." It will come along with true righteousness and holiness in living. As a Visitor from Outer Space, just like Klaatu before me, I say this to the House of Peace that is so busy imitating the Rock'Em Sock'Em Robots: when you stop ripping your own people apart on both sides, right and left, then and only then will you get an American Patriarch. Then, and only then, will you ever proceed along the way of becoming One with the other lung.
It will come as we become obedient, while we work out our salvation with fear and trembling, pursuing ascesis, and receiving the charisms of the Mysteries.
It will come only as we pray, in orthodoxy (small cap's).
It will come, because everything that rises, after all, must converge.