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.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Complete Introduction to Gnosticism Part 1


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?


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