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.

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.