Who We Are

Vestiges of Christianity is a news blog maintained under the direction of Bishop Bryan D. Ouellette, Ph.D., SOSM. Our goal is to reconcile ancient Christian theology with contemporary orthodox Christian practices and understandings. Our praxis carries with it a strong eastern liturgical focus while maintaining a freedom of spirituality that is true to ancient Christian ideology. We welcome anyone who desires to discover gnosis through the expression of early Christianity. We use the word "gnosis" with the intention to reflect its original meaning of soteriological knowledge, mystical wisdom and spiritual realization. While we encourage a working philosophical comprehension of Classical Gnosticism from antiquity, we are not a Gnostic or reconstructionist church. Our theology is orthodox, our approach, furthermore, is mystically liberating.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Holy Innocents

"In Ramah is heard the sound of moaning,
of bitter weeping!
Rachel mourns her children,
she refuses to be consoled
because her children are no more."

Jeremiah 31:15

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

May all the blessings and magic of the Christmas season rest upon you all and bring you peace.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Man, Myth & the Occult: A Complete Introduction to Gnosticism Part 5: Valentinianism

Today, Father Bryan Ouellette speaks about the Valentinian School of Gnosticism. Who were the Valentinians and what was their relationship to orthodox Christianity? Find out why history remembers the Christian Gnostics to be the followers of Valentinus and his theology.

Original Air Date: December 17, 2010

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

For Nathaniel

Dear Friends,

Please hold in your prayers the health, healing and resilience of little two and a half year old Nathaniel who will be undergoing surgery this month for an abdominal tumor. His grandmother contacted our community and asked for our prayers. We have given them in abundance and will continue to offer them.

Please go to this website http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/nathanieljohnson for more information and if God has blessed you with extra material resources, please donate to CaringBridge for the good work they do for our children on Nathaniel's behalf.

All my blessings go out to Nathaniel at this time. Please pray for him and his family.

Fr. Bryan

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent Sunday

Dear Friends,

Today marks the first day of the Western Liturgical year and also the season of Advent. The prayers and scriptural readings of the Church on this day remind us to keep vigilant for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. But what exactly are we waiting for? Is it the Parousia? Is it the return of the Historical Jesus? Is it the Eucharistic Christ? Or could it be the mythic Christos?

I contend that any and all of these options apply.

Advent is a time to listen. It's a time to put our noisy prayers aside and just sit in the presence of God, waiting for his voice to speak to us. While Lent is the season for emptying oneself of the unnecessary, Advent is a careful measure of many deliberate moments when we allow God to fill us with perfect Grace. This is achieved by waiting. We look for God in every moment. We embrace silence so as to listen. We allow our reason to accommodate our faith and trust. And most importantly we give ourselves room to accept that when God finds us, the encounter is his and his alone to direct. This may lead us to any given series of unexpected results. Our role in this is to surrender our expectations. When God finds us, the experience is almost never as one would anticipate. This is why the Gospels express the excessively humble origins of the Savior. Messiahs are supposed to be kings, military commanders, and conquerors. How easy it is to miss that which one is not expecting.

Such is the spiritual journey of our lives. Such is Advent.

Blessings to you all in this Holy Season,

Fr. Bryan

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A New Blog

Dear Friends,

It was announced this past week that the Valentinian School of the Universal Church of Autogenes was dissolved into a series of Universalist paths maintained by the new Universalist Gnostic Communion led by Bishop Mansell C. Gilmore. This new structure, along with the Consecration of Father Abbot Bryan D. Ouellette, Ph.D. to the Episcopacy, allows for the Holy Monastic Order En Deus to become a fully independent sacramental ministry. This independence will make it possible for the the Order to better serve its members according to the sacred and venerable traditions of high liturgical Christianity.

Additionally, this blog which once served as the central hub for the Valentinian School will now serve exclusively as the private blog for the Holy Monastic Order En Deus. Its new title: "Vestiges of Christianity" reflects the spirit of the Order in its effort to preserve the lost traditions of ancient Christianity while simultaneously moving to reconcile these traditions with the larger orthodox churches.

Another aspect of this change is mirrored in the new structure of the Holy Monastic Order En Deus. It will no longer maintain the two Andreasine and Valentinian paths. Rather, it will now become one unified ancient Christian monastic Order operating in the modern world under the functionality of an eastern and western rite. The eastern rite will absorb everything that was once the Andrasine path including the Russian Orthodox autocephaly, while the western rite will become a truly diversified form of independent Roman Catholicism.

It is our hope that this new independent restructuring under our future Bishop, Father Abbot Bryan D. Ouellette, Ph.D. will better connect us with our roots while also allowing for a new freedom of expression.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Consecration Ceremony of Bryan D. Ouellette to Bishop

Dear Friends,

Bishop Mansell Gilmore of the Universal Church of Autogenes has announced that he will be Consecrating Father Bryan D. Ouellette, Ph.D. to the Order of Bishop, specifically under the Apostolic lineage of the Russian Orthodox tradition (please view the Succession list here if you are interested in the history of this particular lineage: holymonasticorder.webs.com/apostolicsuccession.htm . The event will take place at the Clerical Retreat Center in Atlanta, Georgia on the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple to be celebrated on Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 2PM Eastern. Additionally, Monastic Novices Brother Thomas Moreland and Reverend Peter Smith will both be Ordained to the Diaconate and elevated to Simple Vows.

Below is an itinerary of ceremonies. You are all invited to attend this wonderful event, but seating is limited. Please RSVP by calling 207-370-9077 by November 15, 2010. Father Bryan asks that any gifts for his Consecration be offered as a donation to the Holy Monastic Order En Deus to help defray the costs of the ceremony and the bulk of the financial burden which falls on the Most Ancient Church of the Rose and Cross.

Thank you and we look forward to seeing you all there!

--
MindBrainBody Project

The Consecration of Father Bryan D. Ouellette, Ph.D. + to the Russian Orthodox Bishopric &
the Ordinations of Brother Thomas Moreland & 


Date: Sunday, January 30, 2011

Time: 2:00 P.M.

LOCATION: Clerical Retreat Center in Atlanta, Georgia (directions will be given to RSVPs)

Schedule of Events:


  • Office of Oblation
  • Introductions
  • Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom for the Feast of the Meeting of the Lord: The Purification of the Holy Theotokos (Introductory rites)
  • Consecration of Fr. Bryan to the Order of Bishop
  • Confirmation of Brother Thomas Moreland
  • Ordination of Brother Thomas Moreland & Reverend Brother Peter Smith to the Order of Deacon
  • Elevation of Brother Thomas Moreland & Reverend Brother Peter Smith to Simple Vows
  • Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom for the Feast of the Meeting of the Lord: The Purification of the Holy Theotokos (continued)
  • Dinner

A Note from Fr. Bryan:

The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is an ancient liturgy going back to the days of the early Church itself. It has always been the central religious expression of Russian Orthodoxy. For those of you who have never experienced a Church service of this kind, it is my goal to help make you all as comfortable as possible with it.

First of all, this isn't a Roman Catholic Mass (although the Confirmation of Brother Thomas, and the Ordination and Elevation of Brothers Thomas and Peter will be of the Latin Rite in order to honor their spirituality). Eastern spirituality is very much dependent upon individual practice. While it is customary for the congregation to stand throughout the entire Divine Liturgy, it is not necessary. There are places during the Liturgy where it is entirely appropriate to sit and other times where it is better to stand. Eastern Christians do not kneel at Sunday Divine Liturgies. When in doubt, follow "Matushka" Tracey who will be cantor for this event. When she sits, feel free to sit. When she stands, please stand.

You will find that Eastern Christians bless themselves with the sign of the cross frequently throughout the liturgy. If you wish to participate in this expression, but are unfamiliar with the eastern method, please ask me to show you during the Introductions segment before services begin.

It is customary in Russian Orthodoxy to bow when the priest blesses the congregation with the incense.

Nearly the entire Divine Liturgy in the east is chanted by both the priest and the congregation. Tracey will be providing everyone with handouts to follow along. While certainly not necessary, we encourage you to respond with the cantor. Don't worry if you don't know the chants, many of the responses will come easy after you hear them a few times. Some, however, are more difficult. What is important is that you do what is comfortable for you.

Finally, I would like to add a note about Holy Eucharist (Communion). Central to the Christian faith is Eucharist. In the mind and theology of the eastern Church, this is not merely blessed bread and wine offered in remembrance of Christ, but the ACTUAL body and blood of Christ Himself. The Russian Church, therefore understands this sacrament to be the very presence of God in physical form under the appearance of Bread and Wine. It is ordinarily assumed that those who choose to receive Eucharist have already been baptized into the Christian tradition. Baptism is usually the first step to initiation into the Christian mysteries and we highly respect this process. However, no one (not even a priest or a bishop) has a right to stand between a person and their God. In light of this understanding, I would like to offer you all the following recommendations when we reach this point in the Liturgy.

If you have never been baptized but wish to receive Holy Eucharist on this day, please contact me privately and I will be more than happy to baptize you through either a full ceremony or a short and simple private ceremony (according to your own preferences).

But! (And this is a huge but!)

If you find yourself unbaptized at this liturgy and something compels you to go up and receive the Eucharist, I will not turn you away from receiving this indescribable mystery of the Church. Go with your heart. It's usually right.

So with this I extend to you the blessing of God and I greatly look forward to seeing all of you who are able to attend.

With Much Peace,

Rev. Bryan D. Ouellette, Ph.D. +

P.S. I also would like to offer a sincere thank you to Dr. Michael Jon Kell for making this event possible. Much love to you, Michael,as always.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Consecration to Bishop

Dear Friends,

Bishop Mani Gilmore formally announced this weekend to the Universal Church of Autogenes that I am to be Consecrated to the Order of Bishop. I am deeply humbled by this announcement. To be chosen to become a successor to the Apostles is both a frightening and wonderful appointment. I will do my best to serve Gnosis, those coming to Gnosis, and those whom have yet to discover Gnosis well.

The date will be announced soon, but the Consecration will most likely take place at our clerical retreat center in Atlanta, Georgia. All are invited to attend. In preparation for this most sacred of events, I will most likely not have the time to post to this blog as regularly as I am accustomed to. I, therefore, ask for your patience and your prayers during these final weeks of preparation.

All my blessings to you,

Fr. Bryan

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fear

"I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing......Only I will remain."
Dune

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Complete Introduction to Gnosticism Part IV: Sethianism

Today, Father Bryan Ouellette speaks with Bishop Mani Gilmore about classical Gnosticism. Who were the "Sethians"? Who are they today? What did they believe and how does it apply to our modern practice?

CLICK HERE TO LSITEN

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Our Lady of Sorrows

Today, as we remember the seven sorrows of the Theotokos, let us pray:

Sun of Justice, the immaculate Virgin was the white dawn announcing your rising, grant that we may always live in the light of your coming. [from the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary]

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross

Today the Church celebrates the Seventh Century victory of Emperor Heraclius of Constantinople in his success of recovering the relic of the True Cross stolen by the King of Persia, Chosroes II, restoring it to its original placement in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.

The faithful recall this history as they reflect upon the meaning of the Cross of Jesus Christ. As Gnostics, we often find it tempting to dismiss this conventional soteriology, but I strongly caution against such oversights. Gnostic wisdom traditions that only reflect upon "the Revealer" aspects of Jesus Christ can very quickly lose the Jesus Christ of faith altogether. Perhaps this is what they are hoping to do, but such an approach often leads to an unbalanced result. I suspect that this might have been why so many early Christians of antiquity attempted to separate the person Jesus from the Aeon Christ. Keeping this firmly in mind, however, it is my contention that the ancient Gnostics didn't have a literal Separationist Christology as is commonly assumed; rather, I would argue that this was a metaphorical way of indicating that the historical Jesus and the Savior Christ should be dealt with equally, but differently.

On this feast of the Cross, I invite all of you to ponder what this 2,000 year old Sacrifice means to you.

Fr. Bryan

Monday, September 13, 2010

In memory of St. John Chrysostom

"Wisdom (Sophia) from above is first of all innocent. It is also peaceable, lenient, docile, rich in sympathy and the kindly deeds that are its fruits, impartial and sincere. The harvest of justice is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace." James 3:17-18

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Complete Introduction to Gnosticism: Part 3

Father Bryan and Bishop Mani continue their discussion from last month about the limitations of the human condition.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sin with Fr. Bryan D. Ouellette, Ph.D.

Sin with Fr. Bryan D. Ouellette, Ph.D. from Universal Church of Autogenes on Vimeo.

Father Bryan works through the theological difficulties involved with the subject and usual definition of sin. Can there be a Gnostic approach to sin? Is sin obsolete in a world that has come to embrace imperfection as part of ordinary human experience? In this video, you will learn more about this very misunderstood concept.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Reflections on Gnostic Humility

When you can find God in a beautiful sunset, you haven't yet arrived.

When you can find God in all living things, wisdom is still far off.

When you can find God in the deepest recesses of your heart, Gnosis is still eluding you.

When you can find God in not just the extraordinary, but the ordinary, you still have more steps to take.

But when you can find God in the most vile, repulsive, disgusting, reprehensible thing, then your enlightenment may just be right around the corner.

Take no glory in it, for it is fitting that there should be no rewards for seeing things as they actually are. Such an action is not a privilege, but our duty. Let us not be heros unto ourselves, but rather let us commit to the work we were born to accomplish.


Fr. Bryan

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Martyrdom, Sin, and the Need for Humility

Father Bryan speaks about the nature of humility in the context of the Christian understanding of martyrdom and sin. Are these concepts obsolete in a Gnostic world-view or do they still have a viable application?

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

Friday, August 6, 2010

Why Dualism is a Cognitive Error

Dr. Bryan Ouellette and Dr. Michael Jon Kell explain why the human condition perceives the existence of evil. Is there more to Satan than just archetypal significance?

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A personal prayer after communion

Lord Jesus Christ, spread your Grace out upon the world and may your
Holy Spirit descend upon us all. May the mind of Sophia enter our minds
so that we may come to know the unknowable Father.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Complete Introduction to Gnosticism Part 2

Today, Fr. Bryan speaks with Bishop Mani about the limitations of the human condition. How do these natural restrictions affect our spiritual development and is there a way to transcend such obstacles?

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Historical Jesus with Fr. Bryan D. Ouellette, Ph.D.

The Historical Jesus with Fr. Bryan D. Ouellette, Ph.D. from Universal Church of Autogenes on Vimeo.

Fr. Bryan speaks about the significance of the Historical Jesus within the framework of religious practice and salvation. Was the historical Jesus important? Did his historical actions matter or is the Gospel message a function of archetypal reality?

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Order of Deaconess

It is important to announce that as Abbot of the Holy Monastic Order En Deus, I have decided to resurrect the ancient order of Deaconess. I have had to tread carefully in this regard because of the two worlds that our Monastic Order walks within. With one foot firmly planted in Sethianism, the idea of female ordinations to the Sacrament of Holy Orders is a given reality; however, with our other foot also firmly planted in Russian Orthodoxy, the tradition is less clear in this regard. Historically speaking, Eastern Orthodoxy has never had female priests or bishops, but it did hold the order of deaconess for several hundred years. There has even been recent dialog in conventional Eastern Orthodox systems to reestablish the order. There exists, of course, a strong biblical foundation for such an action. In Romans 16:1-2, Paul clearly expresses in what high regard he considers Phoebe, a deaconess of the Early Church. Also in Philippians 4:1-3, Paul speaks of Euodia and Syntyche, two women who were clearly important assistants in Paul's ministry. It is entirely probable that they too were deaconesses. With this in mind, it is clear that the order of Deaconess is a perfect compromise between the two systems, and so we shall utilize this point of history to our own advantage.

While at this time and because of its strong Eastern Orthodox foundation, the Holy Monastic Order En Deus is not prepared to take within its Orthodox framework female priests or bishops, it is, however, in the process, through the Order of Allogenes, of establishing an exclusively Gnostic Sethian arm within its wandering monk/nun tradition that will have the freedom to offer the priesthood to women. Naturally, the Universal Church of Autogenes ordains women to the order of Priestess, so there are viable options within the walls our Church while we work through these specifics.

Fr. Bryan

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Complete Introduction to Gnosticism Part 1

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

AIRED 06/25/10 on Man, Myth & the Occult

Father Bryan D. Ouellette, Ph.D. welcomes Bishop Mansell C. Gilmore, presiding Bishop of the Universal Church of Autogenes, to launch this new monthly series on the subject of Gnosticism in practice. Tonight, they will begin the series with an introduction to the Church along with a discussion about what the audience can expect from this series, particularly concerning dispelling common myths attached to Gnosticism.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Working on the Monastery

Greetings and blessings!

My apologies for the recent lack of new content. We've been very busy working on all matters relating to purchasing monastery property out of state. I will be sure to keep you all informed of any progress we make in this regard. In the meantime, I will be sure to publish a new video very soon.

May the Peace of Christ be with all of you.

Fr. Bryan

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Prayer for the Feast of St. Ephrem: Doctor of the Church

"Lord, graciously infuse the Holy Spirit into our hearts. By His inspiration, St. Ephrem the Deacon rejoiced in singing of your mysteries and through His power he merited to be seated with You. Amen."

From Lives of the Saints by the Catholic Book Publishing Company

Friday, June 4, 2010

Everlasting Life?

"May almighty God bless us, protect us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life."

Such are the words that close out the Latin Offices of Lauds and Vespers. We hear these words echoed constantly in the scriptures. The very message of Jesus was centered upon this concept and it is no mystery that such words led to our common perceptions of heaven, afterlife, and eternity. Yet, in Gnosticism, we can very often experience a far less identifiable role for the afterlife. Many Gnostics, in fact, subscribe to the far eastern philosophies of nirvana rather than to the western Christian obsession with eternal life. At worst, many sound like nihilists and materialists as the doctrine of heaven is slowly lost to the sometimes oppressive empirical observations of science and reason.

It begs the question: what was Jesus talking about when he referred to everlasting life and/or the Kingdom of Heaven?

And...

If there is no actual everlasting life, what then is the point of having a religious practice at all?

Are we just wasting our time if a successful 'Gnosis experience' leads us to conclude that intrinsically we are nothing and everything we are dissolves into this nothingness after death? Personally, I don't think so.

Ask any conventional theologian what the most important day of the Christian year is and he will tell you Easter. The reason for this is that the very heart of conventional Christian theology is absolutely dependent upon the physical rising of Christ from the dead. This theology teaches that by death Jesus Christ conquers death, not just for himself, but for all mankind. This was the purpose of the sacrifice on the cross. In a sense, he reverses the damage caused by Adam and Eve when their actions brought the condition of death into the world. Theologically and mythically, this sounds wonderful. Unfortunately, the empirical reality is that people still died and continue to die, so that while the effects of Jesus' physical rising from the dead somehow [theologically] removes the penalties death imposes upon us (i.e., dissolution into nothingness), we certainly do not physically share in this same experience (unless one were to subscribe to the raising of the dead at the end of time, which most Gnostics do not).

While it is true that one can draft a fairly reasonable psychological assessment about the afterlife and apply to it humanity's innate requirement for security coupled with its subconscious fear and insecurity (the root of most acquired psychological disorders), I cannot help but suspect that there is a deeper message here and that this afterlife doctrine must hold some ultimate truth at its heart. While I will not be so quick to declare that there is an affirmative continuity of consciousness [as we know it] at the point of death and beyond, I do believe there is enough philosophical evidence to suggest that all this religious practice is actually doing something remarkable for the practitioner.

For example, ask somebody to tell you who you are. I don't mean to suggest that they express what you are like, but rather what you are. And by you, I don't mean your body, but your essence or your essential self, if you will. Can they do it? Can you even do it? When describing another person, it is usually necessary to use a simile, a metaphor, or some basic adjectives (i.e., George is like an ox, he's so strong. Jessica is an angry person. Bob is so quiet and peaceful. The Dalai Lama is so full of compassion, etc.) The problem here is that these are merely aggregates of our ego states. They do not make up anything essential to who or what we think we are. In a sense, we could argue that the reason we must use such terminology when describing a person, is because such a person is, in actuality, nothing more than a careful, but random, accumulation of such aggregates.

So far, it may seem as if we are walking down that dark road of nihilism again, but when one considers that these aggregates are in fact universal, particular, profoundly transcendent, and eternal realities, the concept of everlasting life becomes more and more of an absolute reality. Some people might find me to be a compassionate person. One could then say that compassion is an aggregate that makes up my ego state. Now, when I die, my brain (which science would say contains my ego state) will rot along with the rest of my body, but compassion will live on transcendent and completely independent from any corruptible matter.

It would appear, then, that our eternal life awaits us within this intangible realm of universal properties- the same properties we attempt to acquire in abundance through the faith and works of religious practice. We are, most explicitly, a construct of universal principles set into motion by material forms. This matter obviously dissolves, but the universal principles cannot. They clearly live on in other people, future generations, and most certainly within the fabric of the cosmos itself. Why it is that these aggregates coming together within material form results in consciousness is still somewhat of a mystery, but I suspect it might have a lot to do with the possibility that consciousness and intelligence are eternal aggregates as well and that, by their very nature, ultimately prove the definitive existence of the eternal life of the Kingdom of Heaven Jesus talked so much about.

Fr. Bryan

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Basic Soteriology with Fr. Bryan D. Ouellette, Ph.D.

Basic Soteriology with Fr. Bryan D. Ouellette, Ph.D. from Universal Church of Autogenes on Vimeo.

Fr. Bryan discusses a Gnostic approach to the doctrine of Christian salvation. Is salvation necessary? It is important? Is it even compatible with the Gnostic world-view? Find out!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What is the Universal/Catholic Church?

The Catechetical Handbook of the Eastern Orthodox Church by D.H. Stamatis, Ph.D. (2003) describes a heretic as "a person who claims to be a Christian but does not believe in the Catholic faith. Instead, he holds to the teachings of men who mistakenly believe that every man has the right to explain the Holy Scriptures and its doctrines as seems best to himself."

Furthermore, it is stated that the fifth Commandment of the Orthodox Church "requires of us that we do not read the books of heretics, nor heed the blasphemous teachings of those who are untrained in Holy Scripture and in the Sacred Disciplines, nor take part in their discussions."

Part of my job as a priestly bridge between Orthodoxy and Gnosticism is to reconcile perceived differences, conflicts, and understandings of both theologies. I do honestly believe that the fundamental incompatibility of these two spiritual approaches are inherently derived from cultural bias and intentional ignorance. The above quote rather blatantly confirms the latter suspicion, but as I read and re-read these words, I felt compelled to deeply reflect upon how these words affect my Orthodoxy.

As a Gnostic and a Sethian, I could very well not care. Gnostics have an absolute right, as determined by the authority of their own tradition, to simply ignore any and all attempts at theological conformity. But as a minister of God who equally identifies himself as an "autocephalous Russian Orthodox priest," a simple dismissal of the core material would be both irresponsible and inconsiderate. In order to maintain the integrity of my ministerial description, that being both Sethian and Orthodox, I must make every effort to establish a firm position on all points that fall within expected contradiction between the two disciplines. But I have to say, this one was complicated and it led me to really wonder what is meant by the Universal/Catholic Church that I have been ordained into.

Let's first go back and reflect on the Orthodox definition of a heretic.

A heretic is defined to be, "a person who claims to be a Christian but does not believe in the Catholic faith". Incidentally, the Orthodox attach this term to all Protestants and all Roman Catholics, not just those of a Gnostic persuasion who consecrated their vocations outside of the "acceptable" episcopacy. Just by this acknowledgment, it becomes remarkably evident that "true" Catholicism is arbitrary and theoretical. Now, I must admit that Orthodoxy does have one powerful claim to hold the right to define it. It is their contention that the Universal/Catholic Church and all subsequent matters of faith and belief cannot be established by the act of one man's infallibility (in the case of the Papacy) or determined in the mind of private revelation (in the case of Gnosticism), but rather agreed upon by the counsels of the synod of Bishops. I do yield my objections this far in respect to this process. One of my primary criticisms of Protestantism is the personal interpretation of Holy Scripture. I've always felt that good theology is a group effort, maintained by the highest scholarly minds. But again, there is something also to be said for pure mystical experience, which is often something very much lacking in the left-brained world of higher theological education and conventional Church hierarchies.

Ultimately, I personally find the unfortunate flaw in Orthodoxy's approach to be written into the very "fifth Commandment of the Church". This idea that all Orthodox believers are "required" to not read heretical books or participate in similar discussions with such "problematic" people. Such a "law" can only lead one down a path of true ignorance, which is, not so ironically, the very antithesis of Gnostic ideology. A true Gnostic's purpose isn't to overthrow Orthodox teachings, lead the faithful astray, teach falsehood, lies, or to conduct one's affairs through premeditated treachery. No! Rather its only objective is to enlighten, to discern, to share, to experience, to realize, to know. And to do so never by means of coercion.

Which do you find to be the more enlightened approach?

Idealistically, my reconciliation between these two points of obvious contention rests within the simple fact that no man has any right of authority over any other man. Clergy are guides. Perhaps they have administrative authority by virtue of their positions, but this does not give them any right to perpetuate intentional ignorance and enforce it against their self-proclaimed subordinates. To assume such power as a clergyman is akin to what Orthodoxy would describe as Satanic manipulation.

I will always be troubled by this Orthodox definition of heresy and Catholicism. But I will remain forever hopeful that the Church's dynamic spirit will eventually move to such an enlightened state, that it will no longer be able to harbor such antiquated notions of censorship. Could it be that these Church leaders know, within their obvious wisdom and education, that there is truly more and they are afraid of it? I believe this is precisely the case and it is for this reason [sadly] that my autocephaly will remain my continued safeguard and protection against such pervasive dangers of conventionalism.

And yes, to you Dr. Stamatis, I am indeed a Christian and I most certainly believe in the Catholic faith and I do so with full intent because my own wisdom, experience, and intellect have confirmed that there is indeed more than what Orthodoxy is teaching us about God and I refuse to fear it. You may condemn me, my congregation, and my entire ministry, but such condemnation is based entirely upon the disease of intentional ignorance and that, my dear Dr. Stamatis, is a disease you can keep to yourself.

Fr. Bryan

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Our new Gnosticism series on Blogtalkradio



A NEW RADIO SHOW BY MINDBRAINBODY.COM


With your hosts:

Dr. Michael Jon Kell &

Dr. Bryan D. Ouellette
+

Join leading esotericist and scientist Michael Jon Kell, M.D., Ph.D. and autocephalous Russian Orthodox priest and metaphysician Bryan D. Ouellette, Ph.D. as they discuss applied Occultism, Metaphysics and Gnosticism in a new and ever dynamic way. Prepare yourself for Man, Myth & the Occult: the symbiosis of science and religion.

Science and mathematics are quite new to the mind of mankind, whereas magick and mythology arose during the earliest days of simple conscious thought and dreaming. Based upon the cave drawings and burial sites uncovered by archeologists in Europe, magick and myth date back at least 40,000 years.

People often associate magick with demons, witches and satanic rites, however magick is much more than these perceptions. High ceremonial magick is really a methodology for learning about the universe and its functions, and is the forerunner of modern scientific thinking.


The purpose of this program is to explore the mythology and magical world of our species in a manner helpful for dealing with the problems of today. The audience is welcome to call into the show.

On the last show of every month, Father Bryan D. Ouellette, Ph.D. will explore Gnosticism with our very special regular guest, Bishop Mansell C. Gilmore. Learn the truth about Gnosticism from both a historical and modern perspective.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Changing Face of Christianity

The death of liturgical Christianity is upon us. In a way, it was a death several hundred years in the making. But now, as we look upon the spiritual condition of our society, it has become abundantly evident as Christianity has slowly shifted towards a scriptural literalism that I believe is both dangerous and ill-conceived. Why has this happened? And what factors have contributed to this happening?

Central to this problem are many erroneous correlations currently being made by large groups of individuals with a specific agenda (i.e., the media). However, rather than spend more time on these entities than they are worth, it is best to simply consider the image they have projected to the rest of us. For example, the Roman Church is usually the first thought that comes to mind when one considers liturgical Christianity. After years of holy wars, religious intolerance, genocides, and child abuse scandals, society isn't as convinced that these ancient rituals of the Church lead one to a condition of holiness. In fact, it appears to such individuals that it does quite the opposite.

Next, we have the growing problem of immediate gratification. In a stress-based society such as ours where people thirst for instant results, expedient efficiency, and maximized utilization, three and a half hour liturgies don't make sense. I've watched Roman Catholics struggle to get through a 45 minute Mass on Sunday, a Mass that has been largely stream-lined to remain relevant to the weakening minds of the general population. I'd be a rather rich man if I could charge such people a nominal fee every time they walk out right after communion. Even that last six to ten minutes is so precious to them that they could not possibly allow the liturgy to conclude in its natural time. It's not good time utilization, you see.

Finally, we have the ever increasing problem of empiricism. In a world obsessed with scientific fact and historical certainty, the world has become less connected to mythological and archetypal truth. This again goes back to this absolute literalism that we so often see in the "feel-good" practices of modern evangelical Churches. To such people, symbolic truth isn't a truth at all.

In the first instance, one must remember that sacramental grace is not the same as a life of holiness. Ritual doesn't make one holy. The Sacraments provide a grace that is freely given, but must also be freely accepted in order to bring about a condition of holiness. While I would say that it is true that the power of a Sacrament is contained within the Sacrament itself, this power can only be activated by the faith of the individual. And honestly, faith is a condition terribly contradicted by our modern world.

The second and third issues are a defect of modern consciousness and are not easily resolved. Homosapiens are pack animals. Most people prefer to follow than to lead and right now we have a classic example of the blind leading the blind. Corporate America with its insatiable drive for ever greater expressions of absolute efficiency has indirectly (or maybe even directly) contaminated the human psyche. Now we have perfect little examples of the American Dream, no longer just in the world of consumerism, but in the very heart of the Church itself. Asinine doctrines like "prosperity theology" sell millions of people on the idea that God will write the checks as long as you continue to believe. When that doesn't work, people become victims to their own fear of hell and find themselves believing in God not because they love him, but because they want to get the most out of their afterlife. It's all about good business sense.

Like we have seen in our own history of western civilization, I believe that in the end, liturgical Christianity will be preserved only in the monasteries, by the monks who understand what great treasure it is that they have. As the Roman Church continues to disintegrate and the mass exodus of their congregations into the realms of blind evangelicalism and atheism endure, we will see a time where the mysteries of Christ are once again preserved for only those who "know" And this is fine. In a way, I almost prefer it this way. What Gnostic wouldn't?

Fr. Bryan

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Western Pragmatism vs. Eastern Solemnity

Never did I think I’d be grateful for the Latin Rite. I left the Roman Catholic Church because I was growing weary of its “modern spirituality” and its seemingly incessant need to stay relevant, while accomplishing such in rather awkward and uncomfortable ways. The eastern Church opened up to me a vast plethora of ancient Christian praxis and when I fully integrated myself into it, I was quite content to remain there, while simultaneously forgetting all about my western origins. These days, however, I am finding myself appreciating what the west offers.

Because of the regular unavailability of my wife, who currently serves my liturgies as the only cantor (at least until the permanent monastery is built), it has become impossible to offer the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom on a usual basis. Add to it the simple fact that our eight-month-old son often doesn’t possess the stamina to make it through a two and a half to three hour liturgy, and the extreme difficulty of this service becomes clear. Fortunately though, I had the foresight to render the Holy Monastic Order En Deus bi-ritual (meaning, utilizing both eastern and western rites). I did this with the intention to foster a complete Christian monasticism that explores both eastern and western spiritual contributions, but now I am finding an even more practical benefit to this decision.

The Latin Rite Mass can be offered respectably, solitarily and without chanting in no more than 40 minutes. Making this rite the perfect solution to the difficulties listed above. While I do happen to be the sort of person who actually enjoys long three hour Divine Liturgies, the realities of being a married priest, with a young child, who has a rather busy ministerial out-reach schedule must be reckoned with in the best way possible.

Interestingly enough, offering Mass on a regular basis has begun to reconnect me and resolve the “western fall-out” that occurred so many years ago when I left the Roman Catholic Church for the east. Much to my surprise, I am actually finding it to be more spiritually rewarding than I could have ever imagined. Being blessed with the tremendous privilege to offer the Eucharist as a priest is an experience beyond words. Even when I was at my most 'Buddhist' in life, the Eucharist remained that Sacrament I could not seem to forget. It kept calling me, sometimes quite literally, until eventually I returned to the Church, and the rest is history. Now, I can say with complete confidence that regardless of eastern Divine Liturgy or western Mass, the experience of the True Presence in the Eucharist transcends any past, present, or future preconceptions.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Very Busy Week

Greetings All!

My apologies for not contributing much activity to the blog this week. My ordination to priesthood and my formal elevation to abbot will take place on Lazarus Saturday (March 27, 2010), but we will be celebrating the vigil of Palm Sunday at the liturgy. Needless to say, the preparations for this event are huge and have been taking up all of my time. The complete event, however, will be filmed and posted to the blog probably sometime after Easter. Then things should start returning to normal.

Blessings to you all!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My Journey

My Journey with Rev. Bryan D. Ouellette, Ph.D. from Universal Church of Autogenes on Vimeo.

Reverend Abbot Bryan D. Ouellette, Ph.D. introduces the blog of the Christian School of the Universal Church of Autogenes with a short description of his own spiritual journey that led him to the priesthood.

Monday, February 22, 2010

What to do about the Nicene Creed?

The Holy Monastic Order En Deus will follow the Russian Orthodox Tradition to the fullest extent possible, but retain its essential connection to the Sethian theological perspective. Of course, this can present some surface problems that often need clarification at best or reinterpretation at worst. One such area of contention is the use of the Nicene Creed in the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. Because the Monastery has chosen this Liturgy as its primary liturgical form, the need for clarification becomes paramount.

I hate Creeds because I hate dogmatic statements. I'm not too found of beliefs either as they tend to only get us into further trouble. Therefore, it seems only logical that the Monastery should eliminate the Creed as part of the Liturgy to simplify the problem. But I, as Abbot, have chosen not to do so because I wish to remain as true as possible to the Russian Orthodox model. The following is what I have come up with as an appropriate resolution.

First, let me begin by stating that any use of a model like that of Russian Orthodoxy by a Gnostic presupposes that the participants are already well aware of the intrinsic limitations earthly models provide. With that being said, it shouldn't be too far of a stretch for a Gnostic to consider that any use of the Bible automatically predisposes the Gnostic to such inevitable problematic complexities. Because the Nicene Creed is the absolute literalism of certain essential conventional Scriptural doctrines and because it was used to fight against the so-called “heresies” of the time, the Gnostic must use care when applying it to any ritual practice. Some might argue that this is impossible, but again, if the Gnostic can use the Bible, the Gnostic by default, can use the Nicene Creed without betraying one's own internal wisdom.

This is accomplished by understanding and accepting the mythos of the Creed itself.

Let us now break down each section with a brief commentary to illustrate the methodology described above.

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty

The average Gnostic should have no serious issue with this statement. The oneness of God and the existence of the Ineffable Father are all very common themes found throughout Gnostic thought.

Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

On the surface this may appear to cause a problem with the classical Gnostic myth surrounding the Demiurge and the archonic forces. But again, when one considers that the Demiurge creates nothing, but rather "crafts" what already is in existence, the Gnostic can safely say that the Ineffable Father is still the core source and maker of all things.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father

For the Christian Gnostic, these statements attached to the Christ reflect well the transcendent emanations often recorded in the Gnostic texts. The Gnostic can use the above as just one more complicated cosmology that reflects an essential cosmic truth in words and symbols.

by whom all things were made.

Again, like before, we have already established that the Father is the actual source of all created substance even if archonic forces arrange and form this substance in imperfect ways.

Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary, and was made man;

Christian Gnosticism has no problem seeing Christ as the primary savior figure emanating from the Barbelo which is often understood to be a Mother principle. Combine the idea that the Holy Spirit is the heavenly aspect of the Theotokos (which can also be seen as the Earthly aspect of the Holy Spirit), both of which are products of the divine feminine (Sophia), and this part of the Creed becomes rather beautiful and inspirational. Some Gnostics might object to the idea of God becoming man, but I believe doing so actually diminishes our own innate divinity.

and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father;

If one contemplates fundamental Christian mythology, the Gnostic can affirm this statement without effort. The first part deals with a very simple historical possibility, while the latter exemplifies characteristics expected of a self-generating Aeon. While again, some Gnostics might object to the notion that Christ had to die on the cross for our salvation, but I think that any Gnostic engaging a liturgical priesthood should consider the immense value to be found in the sacrifice on the cross, particularly if one’s tradition emphasizes the Eucharist, as the Monastery will. Priests offer divine sacrifices. What then offers a better mythos for a priest than a God that loves humanity so much, he dies for its members?

and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the living and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

Now we come to one of two rather complicated affirmations for a common Gnostic. The Parousia presents an intellectual problem for the Gnostic because the statement above was written to assume that mankind is bound by the stain of Original Sin and will not only require redemption from this sin, but be judged accordingly (a notion Gnosticism by far rejects). Yet, if the Gnostic considers carefully the nature of sin as ignorance, it becomes much easier to produce a psychological explanation for the above statement. Christ's Second Coming can be found within us at certain pivotal peak experiences that one will inevitably encounter if on the path through and to Gnostic Enlightenment. And by our own standards of receiving this "Christ Consciousness", we shall discern or judge our very own aptitude, whether we are wide awake (living) or largely unconscious (dead). This process is truly without end as it is the process of a developing awareness at work in this cosmos from the beginning of time.

And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

This can be dismissed easily as another expression of continued emanation mythology. One alphabet is usually as good as another as long as one understands the words those letters create. Worship comes from the word "worth". By honoring this process, by placing value upon it, we express the finest example of worship available to the Divine.

And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

The Universal Church of Autogenes is an Apostolic Church with valid Apostolic Succession. Because of this, there is no difficulty recognizing that we are a part of the whole original Church.

I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;

While some Gnostics recognize secret sacraments and baptisms, none need worry about affirming one baptism for the remission of sins. If the Gnostic appropriately understands sin to be the result and product of ignorance, then one should find comfort in the idea that the conventional sacramental use of baptism can and will indeed place ignorance in remission. Other secret baptisms work on a totally different level.

and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

And here presents the second general problem. Do we as Gnostics seek a physical resurrection or even a spiritual one? Should we look forward to an afterlife condition? I have contemplated this statement of the Nicene Creed more than any before it and I have finally concluded that if we choose to use a Christian model, as the Monastery clearly has, it is impossible to avoid the notion that there is a condition beyond our current modality. The Christian Gnostic should then accept that within the context of the Christian mythos, certain language will be used that highlights or expresses this higher reality as a general immortality. I am comfortable with it, in whatever form it chooses to present itself.

I hope this helps those who may struggle with the Nicene Creed and I hope it allows you to recite this Creed with confidence if you ever find yourself at a Divine Liturgy that uses it.