The Catacombs of the World

Dear Friends,

Many times through the Church’s history, one or other of our priests, in discussing theology has talked about the nature of God as being both at once transcendent and imminent. They are concepts that go hand in hand with the panentheism (not to be confused with pantheism) alluded to in the Apostolic Johannite Church’s Statement of Principles. 

Panentheism, pan-en-theos (‘All in God’) is the view that the Divine is present in all there is, while still being beyond space and time- our Statement of Principles #1 references the ‘while the universe is contained within this Divine Godhead, the Godhead transcends it’. God is present in all things, but is not limited to all things and is beyond all things. 

We cannot readily or easily reach or touch that infinite part of the Infinite which is beyond space and time, being finite creatures pinned down by the gravity of a thousand real concerns that keep us fastened and rooted to and in materiality.

Thoughts of ‘ultimate concern’ as theologians smarter than myself have called it, weave in and out of the background or on the blurred edge of the periphery when there’s bills to pay, clocks to punch and the Rorschach tests of modern culture and life. 

So how to we turn our gaze, mind and hearts to the focus of the Infinite when we are hip deep in the darkness of the finite? Particularly now, when ignorance, fear and illness and where are we going to find some toilet paper, are a part of the thousand real concerns fastening us to the world. 

For as long as any of us has been alive- hundreds of times over in fact of years, Christianity has occupied a dominant role in society and culture. Many times unjustly, heartlessly and cruelly. You know the history- persecution of science, crusade against heretic and infidel alike, the list is long.  The list of the good it has done is also equally long, and is as impressive as its negative points are depressing.

Neither of these ends however is the point of these written thoughts. I mention this only to say that it has been around long enough where it has existed in a variety of conditions, with a variety of dispositions- that defy typecasting it as either the greatest good, or the darkest evil. It is, as it has been from the beginning, made up of regular human beings- with their attendant difficulties, blessings, gifts and ignorance. 

And once upon a time, it was not the globe spanning infighting cultural backdrop of Western civilization so-called. 

It was on the run for its life. Hiding in the catacombs in places like Rome, to places as far afield as Turkey. Under persecution by authority. 

We’re used to seeing church as something that either plays out in the vaulted ceilings, iconography and architecture of the Western and Eastern Churches, or even more sterile worship houses of evangelical disposition, with its iconography being that of the Pastor on a large screen near an unadorned cross of some sort or other (don’t forget some guy with a guitar).

But in the earliest times of Christianity, its spirituality was intimate, familial, huddled and anxious. Ultimate concern was in the hearts and on the minds and lips of all who gathered in these dark, hidden spaces- and fear nipped at its heels if not outright played in its sanctuaries. 

What lay beyond the boundary of human life mattered a great deal, because what roamed beyond the boundary of the nearest doorway, mattered a great deal.

Huddled there, amidst the resting places of Pagans and Christian alike- they made their devotions. God was not an image reflected in architecture, art or hymn, so much as it was reflected in the presence and eyes of one’s own brothers and sisters.

We are in the middle of the Season of Lent- a time of purification, simplification and reconnection with the Divine. A time when so many give up comforts of life in an effort to refocus their attention on matters spiritual. That giving up can be simple items such as chocolate, or an extra hour of TV, or it can be in the sacrifice of time, adding on an extra 20 minutes of mediation, visiting a neighbour who is in difficulty, or sticking around after church to help clean things up. Lent is associated scripturally with the period of days in which Christ went out to the desert, willingly.

I have said it many times before that God desires not our suffering and difficulty isn’t a test, and we’re not having the world taken away just to enhance or refine our faith or test our gnosis, or give us either of these things. The world will always supply us an abundance of lead- it is its nature, but it is through our spiritual practice, and our care for each other, that it can be transmuted into the gold of the spirit.

Like Lent, it is not a Divine test, it is an opportunity. It will come whether you wish it or not, it will come whether you deserve it or not. It is your opportunity to examine the things that are important and the choices and care you make about them- or not.

In the present moment, we find ourselves in an analogous time.

Not of persecution, or heresy vs orthodoxy or pagan vs Christian but a time of danger none the less. The danger of severe illness, the danger of lack, the danger of disregard for our fellow sentient beings, the danger of ignorance. Like COVID-19, many of things on their own are not fatal to us as individuals, indeed, we can carry any one of these things and possibly not be affected by it- but our neighbour can, our society has, and our humanity will, when they are all put together.

In the present moment, the catacombs have become the world, both in the myriad and unclear sounds and information that echo back upon us, or in the danger that lies beyond the corner of our sight in the form of fear, illness and ignorance.

The material world recedes but the image of God remains- reflected in the faces of our fellow human beings. How we honour that matters. We may have the catacombs of the world for some indefinite time from now until who knows, but the cathedral of the heart remains and you stand at that doorway. Open it. 

I asked- how to we turn our gaze, mind and hearts to the focus of the Infinite when we are hip deep in the finite? Touching the Infinite that is beyond time and space is difficult, especially now. 

We can do this by recognizing the presence of the Infinite in the Finite- not the Infinite which lies in the beyond but in the Infinite which is as near as anything can be. The sacred flame that burns in hearts of your fellow humanity. Our ability to meet in a building may be hindered but the church of God remains reflected in the community of humanity even as the world falls away for a time.

It is established one stone at time with every check-in phone call, its sanctuary lit one candle at a time by each gesture of support, the beauty of its music resonates more deeply with each attending ear to the concerns of another’s difficulty.

The catacombs of the world circumscribe the boundaries of our physicality, but the cathedral of the heart can unfetter the boundaries our spirit.

Open that door.

Before the Sacred Flame,
+ IOHANNES IV

Sovereign Pontiff and Patriarch
The Apostolic Johannite Church

Conclave 2020 – Cancelled

Friends,

If you’ve been following the news to any degree over the last few weeks, this decision probably feels inevitable. It didn’t feel that way for us or rather, we did our best to make sure that it wasn’t – for as long as we were able

Conclave 2020 has been cancelled.

I chose to cancel rather than postpone because of the timeline for planning. With COVID-19 and the situation of the world changing fast in response with no anticipated end-date- there is a risk that we will end up planning two Conclaves at the same time, before we know for sure that the dust has settled from the situation we face today and in the foreseeable future.

The well-being of our friends, families, members and clergy is our first priority, and why the Apostolic Johannite Church undertakes the work it does- and why we’ve made the decision we’ve made, in the way that we have made it.

The ordinations and consecrations that were planned for Conclave 2020 will go forward individually where possible- saving where health, safety and government restriction take priority- and failing that- at the soonest opportunity when both health and peace prevail.

For the Sacred Flame,
+ IOHANNES IV

Sovereign Pontiff and Patriarch,
The Apostolic Johannite Church

Conclave 2020

The Apostolic Johannite Church is proud to present the twenty-first annual AJC Conclave – May 28 – June 2nd, 2020 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Each year the people of the AJC, friends and family gather together to socialize, learn, build our skills and deepen our community. It is an amazing opportunity for spiritual growth and insight to modern Gnostic practice.

Conclave offers lectures, workshops and panel discussions selected to develop ministry skills, support the work of church leaders both lay and ordained and deepen and enrich the spiritual lives of attendees. Conclave is also rich in social time, time to eat, talk, pray and practice together. It’s like a retreat and a conference all rolled into one.

As always, we welcome you, no matter who you are or what your spiritual path, to join us for this unique week. You can come for all or part and participate as much or as little as you’d like. However you choose, we welcome you into our household.

Our theme this year is Modern Gnosticism

Keynote Speaker 

The Apostolic Johannite Church is excited to welcome and present Dr. Glen Fairen as our Keynote speaker- and he will be presenting on The Meaning of the Occult

Dr. Glen J. Fairen is an instructor at the University of Alberta in the program of Religious Studies, where he teaches classes ranging from Method and Theory, the Historical Jesus, Apocalyptic Themes, and Studies in Witchcraft and the Occult. He also is the author of As Below, So Above: Apocalypticism, Gnosticism and the Scribes of Qumran and Nag Hammadi (2009). 

Program of Conclave Lectures and Workshops

In addition to our Keynote, we are also excited to bring you an engaging list of speakers and activities throughout the Conclave program.

Without further preamble- here are some of the talks and workshops we have at the time of this announcement:

  • Dr. Glen Fairen – The Meaning of the Occult
  • Rev. Rick Beck – Spiritual Direction: Another Way of Knowing
  • The Primate of the United States – Why Gnosticism Now?: Myth in the Age of Scientism
    The Primate of the United States: Constant Chevillon: Modern Martyr
  • The Bishop of New South Wales – Integral Gnosticism
  • Msgr. Scott Rassbach – The Gnosticism of Philip K. Dick
  • Msgr. Bray Weaver – Deep Millennial Currents
  • Rev. Deacon Jonathan Stewart – The Gospel of John and Sufism
  • Rev. Deacon Bryan Garner – The Church and Medieval Magic: Liturgy and the Classic Grimoires
  • Rev. Mrs. Angie Wisk-Nowell – The Divine Feminine and the Holy Spirit
  • Jason Mehmel – Modern Gnosticism and Narrative

Costs and Registration

Lodging is not included and is the responsibility of the attendee.

Individual Full Registration- Early Bird (Jan 1st to April 1st): $350 USD
April 2nd – Regular Individual Registration – $375 USD

Couple Full Registration- Early Bird (Jan 1st to April 1st):: $675 USD
April 2nd – Regular Couple Registration – $700 USD 

includes
Thursday: Supper
Friday: All Activities, Lunch and Supper
Saturday: All Activities and Lunch.  Supper excursion at own cost
Sunday: All Lectures, Workshops, and Lunch
Monday: All Activities, Lunch and Supper
Tuesday: All Activities, Lunch

Individual Weekend Registration- Early Bird (Jan 1st to April 1st): $250 USD
April 2nd – Regular Weekend Registration – $275 USD

Couple Full Registration- Early Bird (Jan 1st to April 1st):: $425 USD
April 2nd – Regular Couple Weekend Registration – $450 USD 

includes
Friday: All Activities, Lunch and Supper
Saturday: All Activities and Lunch.  Supper excursion at own cost
Sunday: All Lectures, Workshops, and Lunch

or

Saturday: All Activities and Lunch.  Supper excursion at own cost
Sunday: All Lectures, Workshops, and Lunch
Monday: All Activities, Lunch and Supper

Individual Per Day Registration: $100

Refund Policy

From Registration Opening until April 1st- 100% Refund
April 2nd to May 1st- 50% Refund
After May 2nd- No Refund will be issued

Registration closes May 14th

We look forward to seeing you there and sharing your journey. Registration opens soon

Consecration to the Sacred Episcopate

The Apostolic Johannite Church is pleased to announce two upcoming consecrations the Sacred Order of the Episcopacy.

By a unanimous vote of the Apostolic Council, Scott Rassbach and Jeremiah ‘Bray’ Weaver were elected to the Episcopacy of the Apostolic Johannite Church on November 12th, 2019.

The Bishops-Elect will be consecrated together at a celebration of the Liturgy of the Apostolic Johannite Church to be held on May 30th, 2020 during the Church’s annual Conclave meeting in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

The Sovereign Pontiff of the Apostolic Johannite Church will serve as Principal Consecrator with the Primate of the United States and the Bishop of New South Wales serving as Co-Consecrators.

In 12 years of active ministry with the Apostolic Johannite Church, Bishop-Elect Rassbach has served as the Prefect for Liturgical Rites, the pastor of two parishes and a member of the Apostolic Council. Bishop-Elect Scott Rassbach will take the title, name and jurisdiction of Mar Iacomus, Auxiliary Bishop of the United States.

Bishop-Elect Weaver has served for 11 years with the Apostolic Johannite Church- as a member of the Apostolic Council, the Rector of St. Mary Magdalene Parish in Denver, Colorado as well as in both hospice and police chaplaincy roles. Bishop-Elect Jeremiah ‘Bray’ Weaver will take the title, name and jurisdiction of Mar Symeon, Auxiliary Bishop of the United States.

The Bishops-Elect will take on a variety of new functions and tasks to assist both the Sovereign Pontiff of the Apostolic Johannite Church and the Primate of the United States.

After a period of time to be determined by the Sovereign Pontiff, the Dioceses of Oregon and Colorado will be formally established under the Archdiocese of Wisconsin, with an announcement to be made at the appointed time.

Ordination to the Diaconate: The Rev. Mr. Bryan Garner

The Apostolic Johannite Church is pleased to announce the Ordination of Rev. Mr. Bryan Garner to the Sacred Order of the Diaconate.

Bryan Garner has been an active member of the Apostolic Johannite Church for many years and is a practicing occultist and Grimoire traditionalist who has been involved in Western ceremonial magic since 1999. He is the author of Gateways through Stone and Circle, a manual of evocation for the planetary intelligence. He currently lives in Colorado with his wife and son. Besides his occult pursuits, he enjoys the outdoor activities of Colorado, studying Celtic myth and legend, and teaching at Kashiwa Bujinkan Ninjutsu Dojo, his Japanese martial art center.

The Rev. Mr. Bryan Garner will be ordained to the Sacred Order of the Diaconate during a celebration of the Liturgy of the Apostolic Johannite Church by the Patriarch of the Apostolic Johannite Church on Sunday, October 20th, 2019 at the Parish of St. Mary Magdalene in Denver, Colorado