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, September 21, 2012

Special Announcement: The Future of Nicholean Catholicism

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In this very important special annoucment, Bishop Bryan D. Ouellette issues a report about the future of the Holy Nicholean Catholic Church, the status of the Patriarchate, and the ultimate outcome of the Church's restructuring.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

New Church Restructuring Announced

The Patriarchate of the Holy Nicholean Catholic and Holy Imperial Russian Orthodox Church is announcing a complete restructuring of the Church dynamic effective immediately. As of today, all ministers, deacons, and priests, whether in active or inactive status must reapply to the new foundation ministry organized to bridge the gap between both the external and internal ministerial authority. Any minister, deacon, and/or priest who received ordination under the authority of the Holy Nicholean Catholic and/or Holy Imperial Russian Orthodox Church and fails to reapply to the new ministerial authority by September 30, 2012, for renewal of their ministerial license, will be automatically laicized with all of the rights and privileges of their current Orders revoked. All ministers must reapply by submitting in writing a request for a new license at office@nicholean.org. Reapplication will require a mandatory training program before reception of a new license to practice is issued. All current licenses for active ministry are now in a state of complete suspension. Any minister, deacon, and/or priest deciding not to reapply and found operating an active ministry independent of the Churches will be declared a schismatic operation and found to be illicit and invalid on the basis of failing to follow proper excardination procedures. As with all motions associated with the new restructuring of the Church, there will be no exceptions to these actions.

It is distressing to the Patriarch that he has been forced into declaring this action, but such is the state of things within the Independent Sacramental Movement, and to some extent, within the greater conventional Church as well. This new structure is designed to strengthen the Church by reeducating its ministers with new and better understandings of Sacramental theology.

If you wish to determine the active ministerial status of any minister, deacon, priest, and/or bishop operating under the Sacramental authority of Patriarch Nicholas III, whether it be within union or outside of the union of our Churches, please contact our chancery office at office@nicholean.org or call 207-370-9077.

Friday, September 7, 2012

New Vocational Policy

Effective immediately and by order of Patriarch Nicholas III in mundo +Bryan D. Ouellette, Ph.D., the Holy Nicholean Catholic Church, the Holy Imperial Russian Orthodox Church, and the Holy Monastic Order En Deus will no longer accept applications for Holy Orders. Vocations to priesthood, including all minor and major orders will be granted by direct invitation of Patriarch Nicholas III himself. Candidates will be hand selected only from active members of the local congregation in the Atlanta, Georgia area. In order to secure against the frequent and relentless abuses found within the Independent Sacramental Movement, all candidates will be required to complete a free private seminary/mentor-ship program lasting several years before approval for ordination to the priesthood is granted. This policy also includes all incardinations. So as to assure the protection of our Sacred tradition and integrity of the mysteries under our care, there will be no exceptions to this policy.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Resolutions of Christian Ministry

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On this installment of Vestiges of Christianity, Bishop Bryan Ouellette brings conclusion to his thoughts from the last show by entering into a short discussion about how one reconciles the challenges of Christian ministry in America on both a practical (external) and philosophical (internal) level.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Does Catholicism Hate Women?

Catholicism often gets erroneously blamed for being misogynistic on the basis that it does not ordain women to the priesthood. I would like to point out, however, that Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism all have similar doctrines at work within their world-systems. Even more primitive shamanic religious forms exhibit this characteristic.  While I think it is obvious that virtually all cultures are patriarchal in expression and that it is natural that religion would follow the local cultural identity, there may very well be something more psychological at work here.

Feminism often fails to value or even positively recognize the inherent instinct of males to protect females. Our mating practices are based on this, as are nearly all aspects of our interpersonal activity, including our biology. I then suspect that because dealing with God on the level of priest (or its cultural equivalent) is a highly dangerous business, the role of spiritual intermediary would naturally fall to the male on an evolutionary basis.

In respect to this thought, I personally feel it is a ludicrous, highly derogatory accusation on the part of those who criticize Catholicism in this way. It is always helpful to explore the biological origins of potentially problematic human behavior. Often, the answer to the problem (sometimes even the solution) can be found in such a way. Ask yourself: when was the last time you made a fully rational decision, based only upon good, solid, objective judgement? Then consider how often our judgement, as a species, is produced out of "monkey-brain" emotionalism.

The choice to either spiritually evolve or remain complacent is ultimately in the hands of each and every individual, yet regardless of which choice you decide to make, always remember the consequences of your actions are also yours, no matter how much effort you put into finding a scapegoat, be it through religion, the government, traditionalism, or liberalism.

+Bryan D. Ouellette in ecclesia Patriarch Nicholas III

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Nicholean Catholicism: Part 7

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Today, Bishop Bryan Ouellette in ecclesia Nicholas III concludes his series on Nicholean Catholicism with a special 90 minute episode. The bishop explains in detail the Nicholean interpretive theology on the subjects of Excommunication, Married Clergy, Chastity, Marriage After Ordination, Female Clergy, Divorce, Esoteric Arts & Sciences, and Gnosticism.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Companions of St. Dionysius the Martyr (OSSD) Dissolved

Today, Patriarch Nicholas III in mundo +Bryan D. Ouellette, Ph.D. officially dissolved the Order of St. Dionysius (also known as the Companions of St. Dionysius [OSSD]) previously a monastic order of the Holy Monastic Order En Deus. While the Holy Monastic Order En Deus will continue to function as the official monastic order of the Holy Nicholean Catholic and Holy Imperial Russian Orthodox Churches, the Order of St. Dionysius, along with its associated hermitages and priory will no longer exist.  The decision was made on the basis of some administrative changes that are taking place within the monastic system. The goal is to consolidate the Holy Monastic Order's mutual purpose while shedding superfluous complexities that are no longer relevant to the future vision of the Church.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Why Our Churches Do Not Offer Homosexual Marriage & Female Priesthood

Today our offices received a letter from a concerned Brother of the Independent Sacramental Movement regarding our churches' position on the issue of homosexual "marriage" and female priesthood. He was particularly troubled that Patriarch Nicholas III's higher education in Metaphysical Science did not inspire a more radical, liberal determination of doctrine on these matters. Patriarch Nicholas responded with the following letter, which is being published here in the interest of clarifying the position of our tradition further: 

Dear Brother "C" [Name omitted for privacy] 

The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!

Thank you for your email and for opening dialog with me about these concerns. I understand many of the issues that you addressed and I will do my best to respond to each of them in order to clarify both my personal position and the position of the Church traditions under my patriarchate.

Your email draws much concern regarding the decision to restrict the Sacrament of Marriage to only heterosexual couples and ordination to the priesthood to only males. You also indicate that you are disturbed that a metaphysician could in good conscience support such limitations. While I am sure these policies are quite troubling to you, let me explain why our churches have chosen to abide by them.

Homosexual marriage and priestly female ordination currently have no provisions within the Sacramental theology of churches that properly and validly hold Apostolic Succession. This is not to say that these policies are static principles; I personally contend that they are not, but until the Church as a whole (including all Bishops from all Apostolic traditions) meet and agree to reinterpret the theology on these two points, I as merely one bishop, do not have the authority to modify it, however much I may want to. Any bishop who tells you otherwise is lying to you, and perhaps is lying to himself.

Liberalism and Progressivism may be a catalyst for positive growth and change, but often times they are used as weapons against Conservatives and Holy Tradition, as well as those who require such for their own personal spiritualities. My churches have vowed to protect the traditions of others, both the liberal and the conservative. In a sense, we are true moderates, preferring not to fall too far out of balance to either side of this spectrum. Incidentally, as a metaphysician, I would contend that it is my responsibility and duty to always work with each individual at their own level. This means that someone in my position cannot be afforded the luxury of “choosing a side”.

Intrinsically, we are a union of Churches with valid apostolic succession. While we are independent, we do not seek to cause further schism with the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. In order to respect the sacred office of Bishop and the Grace I have received, it would not be appropriate for me to use this office as a weapon against these venerable institutions of Christianity that made this Grace possible for me to receive in the first place!

I am sure it may seem like a surprise to many people, but bishops (even independent ones) cannot do whatever they want by virtue of their episcopacy. I have accepted Consecration as it was defined by the Church Fathers of antiquity and I am obligated to uphold this. Any bishop who chooses to violate these ancient principles risks invalidity and consequently could invalidate his entire Christian ministry.

There is also another area, pertaining more to metaphysical science, which I should address here with you as well. The far eastern esoteric philosophies teach us that truth is expressed via a mysterious symbiosis of perception. There are conventional “truths”, those perceptions that create the appearance of division, duality, distinction, and separation. Yet, there is a higher, more actual “truth”, which is termed the “Absolute”. On this level, there is no division and all things are one, this is true. For our purposes, however, it must be understood that churches and theological doctrines are the substance of convention and thus are governed by Conventional Truth, NOT Absolute Truth. It is then not only appropriate, but necessary, that we not confuse the two principles in the work of Christian ministry. This is a mistake I too often see many in the field of Metaphysics making in respect to their work and it is doing much damage.

As a final thought, it will serve you well to contemplate and understand that true peace will never be attained through divisiveness. As individuals, we can classify ourselves as liberal or conservative, support one cause over another, choose a side, etc., but true spiritual mastery is attained through the alchemy of fusion, Buddha’s “Middle Way”, if you will. Any extremes we adopt in our lives, no matter how well intentioned, will perpetuate our condition of suffering. My churches have chosen this middle path. What I want, what you want, what the world wants is irrelevant. Desires must be purged and actuality observed, unconditionally. This is the true spiritual life. This is what matters.

If you have any further questions or concerns, I will be happy to address them further with you.

All my blessings to you in Christ,

+Bryan D. Ouellette, Ph.D. in ecclesia Patriarch Nicholas III
Holy Nicholean Catholic Church
Holy Imperial Russian Orthodox Church

Monday, June 4, 2012

Why does the Nicholean Church exist?

Bishop Bryan D. Ouellette in ecclesia Patriarch Nicholas III's homily on the Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time 2012, offered during the Ordination Mass of Very Reverend Michael Thorne.

The Gedo Temple

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Bishop Bryan Ouellette speaks tonight about a new project being sponsored by the Holy Nicholean Catholic Church in its effort to bridge the philosophical gaps between all religions. The project is called the Gedo Temple Social Network and you can become a part of it by going to: http://esoteric.ning.com/. Please join us there in our efforts to build a true online community of spiritual diversity and freedom.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Thoughts for the Fourth Sunday of Easter

"Ask yourselves whether you belong to his flock, whether you know him, whether the light of his truth shines in your minds. I assure you that it is not by faith that you will come to know him, but by love; not by mere conviction, but by action."

 Saint Gregory the Great [Pope]

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Evil: Absolute fiction or conventional reality?

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Tonight, Bishop Ouellette makes a startling announcement about Satan, exorcisms, and his personal encounters with "the Devil", while further explaining the difference between conventional and absolute understandings of the nature of evil.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Nicholean Catholicism Part 6

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Bishop Ouellette finishes up last night's discussion on sexuality and then begins a new discussion on the complex subject of whether salvation is available outside of the Catholic Church.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Nicholean Catholicism Part 5

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After a short absence from the air, Bishop Ouellette is back to discuss more on the Nicholean tradition. Tonight, the subject is about sex and religious doctrine. You don't want to miss this!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Greater Atlanta Esoteric Christian Community

For nearly 2,000 years, Christians (originally called ‘Followers of the Way’) have struggled to integrate the mysteries of the Christian faith into both their daily lives and their spiritual traditions. While many have assembled various institutions of Christianity in order to facilitate a cohesive environment for the protection of "truth", the mysteries themselves have eroded into dogmatism and rigidity. The Greater Atlanta Esoteric Christian Community was founded to resurrect the original spirit of these 'Followers of the Way' and also to support an open, non-dogmatic Christian diversity that explores the very heart of spirituality itself. Ours is a mission of philosophical, theological, and mystical diversity. While we give precedence to the canonical scriptures and traditional writings of the Church Fathers, we openly explore the theologies of Catholicism, Orthodoxy, the Gnostics, the Ebionites, the Marcionites, the Naasseenes , the Taoist Christians, as well as many other Christian and non-Christian paths including Buddhism. Because we serve also as an independent Catholic Church with valid apostolic succession, members of our group will have optional access to the seven sacraments, including liturgical events and prayer groups in additional to the primary study group. We invite anyone with a sincere desire to deepen one’s own faith, while also risking a direct experience with God, to join. One need not be a traditional Christian or even a Christian. All that is necessary is a willingness to explore.

Join now: The Greater Atlanta Esoteric Christian Community

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Nicholean Catholicism Part 4

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Tonight, the focus is on abortion and euthanasia. Bishop Bryan Ouellette will further elaborate on how the Nicholean tradition approaches these sensitive issues.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Nicholean Catholicism Part 3

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Bishop Bryan Ouellette continues with part 3 of Nicholean Catholicism, finishing up last night's discussion on homosexual marriage, then moving on to the topics of open communion, and abortion.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Nicholean Catholicism Part 2

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Tonight, Bishop Bryan Ouellette continues with the Nicholean Catholicism series begun last night. This episode's topics include extracanonical scripture, homosexuality, and the Sacrament of Marriage.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Nicholean Catholicism Series Part 1

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Tonight, Bishop Bryan D. Ouellette discusses how Nicholean Catholicism differs from Roman Catholicism. In this series, he will illustrate in detail each and every component of the primary differences between both systems, using each as a theological and spiritual lesson.

Friday, February 10, 2012

You shall have no other gods before Me

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Is God really a jealous God? Is salvation something attainable only through a confession of faith in Jesus Christ? Is the God of the Old Testament different from the Father of Jesus? These are just some of the issues Bishop Bryan Ouellette will cover tonight on Vestiges of Christianity. We hope to see you then!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Welcome to the new Vestiges of Christianity Radio Show!

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Tonight, Bishop Bryan D. Ouellette, Ph.D. speaks about the new outreach ministry radio show for the Holy Nicholean Catholic Church including new insights into future ministry programs. What is Vestiges of Christianity? What is the Holy Nicholean Catholic Church? What is esoteric Christianity and how does it relate to Epignosis? Find out on Vestiges of Christianity.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Update: Inter-spirituality Center

We are currently working extremely hard to bring to you the long-awaited establishment of the physical monastery, retreat and inter-spirituality center. This complex will be a religious foundation promoting the contemplative life for people of all classifications and religions. All will be welcome. While it will be operated by the Christian monks of the Nicholean Catholic and Russian Orthodox traditions, dogmatism will not be permitted on its grounds. In many ways, our hope for this center is that it will become the new "Library of Alexandria". We envision a place where various and diversified philosophies, religions, traditions, spiritual practices, and world-views will come together to share wisdom, teach, learn, practice and grow.

The initial emphasis will be on monastic, liturgical, and esoteric Christianity, as well as Buddhism, but we hope to one day support an infrastructure for Sufism, Hinduism, Shamanism, Kabbalah, as well as many other venerable spiritual explorations.

We need your help in these final stages to make this a complete reality! If you would like to join us in this effort or would like to offer us your generous donation in support of this work, please contact us at office@nicholean.org or leave us a voice message at 207-370-9077.

The world needs your participation. Peace is not an automatic process. It requires tremendous efforts and it is remarkably expensive to produce lasting results. Resources are always limited, but this work must succeed regardless. Please remember us in your charitable efforts. Please help us to make a difference.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

God is NOT a Denver Broncos fan!

The disturbing trend of athletes, reality show contestants, and others engaged in trivial competitions to praise or thank God for their securing a 'win' is something that I would like to spend a moment to reflect upon with our readers and followers. First of all, the ludicrous implication that God "cares" about the outcome of a meaningless game is foolish at best and dangerous at worst. It demonstrates a remarkable spiritual immaturity that is really inexcusable from any educated stand-point. Are we to believe that God favors one football team over another? Are we really so ignorant as to suggest that Christians, when so engaged in any endeavor, no matter how unimportant, will always win the favor of God by the very certitude of the contestant's faith?

Two such examples have come to my attention in recent times. The first, and most prolific, is to be found in this Tim Tebow media circus. He is being praised by many Christians for his overt display of his Christian prayer life on the national camera. After every game or remarkable play, he gets down on his knees and prays or points to the sky as a means to thank God, presumably, for what just happened. The second was on this past season of the reality show Survivor, where the viewer had to endure the almost clinical scrupulosity of Brandon Hantz and Benjamin "Coach" Wade as they led their respective tribe in prayer. They were sure to thank God for every win under their belt and were just as quick to dismiss any failure as "God's plan".

It is no mystery to someone like me, who literally spends hours upon hours each week conducting damage control for the Christian faith, to find that those who are suspicious (or at least fed up with Christian "in-your-face" fundamentalism) use these examples as fuel for the fire. And rightfully so! What message does such childish behavior send to the secular world about what is, in truth, a rare and profound spirituality?

The painful theological truth is often much different than many such people might suspect. Was Jesus Christ spared when he asked the Father to have the cup passed away from him in the Garden of Gethsemane? The sixteenth century saint, Theresa of Avila, after enduring a series of extreme hardships once said, "Dear Lord, if this is how you treat your friends, it is no wonder you have so few!" I could go on with example after example, but anyone who has dared to walk an authentic path to God will find that it is never as easy as this 'demand/praise' prayer life or as simple as being just "saved" a Christian.

While some might argue that Tim Tebow's habitual need for attention is little more than causual gratitude to the Divine for his athletic talents, I caution anyone who might fall into this trap to consider that genetic disposition is not always so welcomed. Should the schizophrenic of the world start praising God for their hallucinogenic talent? Certainly that was a God-given condition. Should the starving in third-world countries praise God for their slow death at the hands of economic scarcity? Is that not God-given as well? Playing this game reduces God down to a fickle ruler who plays favorites and it attaches to random statistical outcomes a Divine purpose, when in fact, the actuality of God's Will is far too specific for such attributions. Of course, a firm academic mastery of theology and philosophy, along with a viable praxis that has at its heart a limitless tolerance would be necessary to understand this. In my experience, such individuals are not even playing in the same ball park.

It begs the question...

What would these Christians say if Tebow at some point decides to convert to Hinduism and then offers up, after each outstanding play, milk to be poured down a statue of Ganesha that he conveniently keeps on the sidelines? Will they say that his talent will somehow become unavailable to him? If he continues to play well, will they attribute his successes to being "from the Devil"? Perhaps even accuse him of witchcraft?

Let's maintain perspective here. God plays no favorites! Not in terms with religion or anything else. There are the random events of the world, no more important than the throw of two dice at a craps table in Las Vegas. And within these random events, there exists intention; human intention and Divine intention. Human intention includes every effort we make to gain as many of our desires as we possibly can have. This includes intercessory prayer, along with the erroneous belief that we can win God's favor to such a point that we can actually call the shots, if only we are Christian enough, have enough faith, show enough praise. Foolishness!

Mankind's 'will' serves one purpose in the Divine life and that is to bring to full awareness the necessity of aligning it perfectly to the Divine Will. The Divine Will is absolute, unchanging, perfect, and substantiated. It cannot be moved. It cannot be won. It can only be known and when known, we can only choose to follow after it or not. Perhaps this is not as much fun or provides less comfort than thinking that God wants the Broncos to win the Superbowl, but actuality is actuality. We can live within it and grow to mature adults or we can remain in Candyland and pretend the trees are made of peppermint sticks, because, don't you know, God loves me most of all!

Patriarch Nicholas III in mundo +Bryan D. Ouellette, Ph.D.
Holy Nicholean Catholic Church
Holy Imperial Russian Orthodox Church

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Requiem Mass offered for Lisa Horner

Today, Patriarch Nicholas III in mundo +Bryan D. Ouellette, Ph.D. offered a requiem Mass for the repose of the soul of Lisa Horner of Victoria, British Columbia at the Hermitage of the Holy Innocents. As always, Patriarch Nicholas asks for your prayers for Lisa and her family and friends.