Signals vs. Noise- A Reflection on the Order of the Temple

The Liturgical Calendar of the AJC always has much to meditate and contemplate in every season, yet I find some of my own personally moving calendar days come in the latter half of the year.

One of these days is the commemoration of the Martyrdom of the Knights Templar, for its many noble qualities, for the lineages we possess which legend tells us moved through their ranks, for divine hopes and of course, for human frailty and failure.

There are many heroic deeds to be celebrated, many qualities to admire when it comes to the legendary Order of warrior monks. Yet not all of their history is rosy, or kind, or worthy of emulation-and not every one of their leaders, or those who followed them were noble nor upright.

Still, it isn’t the contemplation of heavenly aspirations, heroic deeds or human failings in the Order itself that I turn to with my contemplation this year, but rather, the contemplation of the fears and forces outside of it which brought them to the dungeons, torture chambers and the stakes.

In our time, much as in theirs, the idea of the ‘Other’ looms large on our landscape – advances in education, communication, science and so forth have not immunized us against demonization or ignorance when it comes to our fellow sentient beings.

Sadly, some of these advances have been turned to the ability to more efficiently promote ignorance. A 24 hour news cycle, new and independent media through podcasting, video streams, blogging, social media and the like have enabled ignorance to travel faster than ever with less pesky obstacles such as fact checking, empathy and skepticism to slow it down. Why examine? There’s a picture with a caption from someone ‘important’ to show you the light.

(Yes I’m aware I this post could fall into this category right here and now save myself being important)

I wonder what the Order of the Temple would have thought of such things?

On October 13th, 1307, warrants were given to the men of Phillip IV of France and were opened simultaneously. Beginning with the words “”Dieu n’est pas content, nous avons des ennemis de la foi dans le Royaume”- (“God is not pleased. We have enemies of the faith in the kingdom).

Rapid. Deceptive. Authoritative.

The motives for which Phillip le Bel affixed his seal, and the ones which the soldiers likely assumed based on the text were probably two very different things.

Likewise with much that passes before our eyes attempting to tell us that our neighbors, our coworkers, our friends, those that share our flag and those that don’t, are less than, should be feared, or treated with suspicion- it is not for our safety or our betterment but for agendas that aren’t so rapidly, truthfully or plainly stated.

We fear what we do not understand, and ensuring a lack of understanding is frequently high on such agendas. Sometimes the ‘others’ we are encouraged to fear are people, sometimes it is a culture, sometimes it is a religion, sometimes it is science.

There are legitimate problems in the world- extremism, greed, epidemics, most of which are in the headlines today. Combating these dangers with education, compassion and understanding is a worthy cause. The world is not always a nice place, but we can make an effort to bring that around for individuals with what we have as individuals, such as we are able.

The seeming insurmountable nature of the task lessens not our obligation towards effort.

There are many things however which aren’t worth our time, or are intended to direct our time, thoughts and energy to perpetuating ignorance, fear, that ‘otherness’ and so forth under the appearance of better motives.

The medieval Order of the Temple no less was taken down for greed and fear dressed in the clothes of apostasy and ‘devil worship’.

The 24 hour news cycle, new and independent media through podcasting, video streams, blogging, social media mentioned above can afford us an opportunity, one as transformational as the printing press- to connect, be more human and learn more.

Every day we are confronted with a mass of information whose signal to noise ratio is degrading at a significant pace- and in that information we are being offered a handful of choices.

Increasingly it seems, more and more of those choices involve someone asking you to be afraid.

There are many legitimate things to be scared of in the world- let our fellow sentient beings not be among them for as long as we are able.

 

 + IOHANNES IV
Sovereign Pontiff and Patriarch
The Apostolic Johannite Church

 

 

 

 

Office of the Hours: Printing and Availability

As announced earlier, the text of the Office of the Hours of the Apostolic Johannite Church was completed shortly before Conclave 2017. We are now pleased to inform you that the first printing of the first edition of the Office of the Hours has now been completed. 

The Office of the Hours of the Apostolic Johannite Church will be made available to Parish, Narthex and Mission members and participants directly through local Rectors, leaders and clergy. The text of the Office of the Hours will also be made available to Oblates of the Order of the Temple and Saint John.

If you are located near a parish, narthex or mission of the Apostolic Johannite Church, and wish to explore the rich tradition of the Office of the Hours and its practice within the AJC, come and share your journey with us by contacting your local group and getting involved.

Episcopal Statement on Same-Sex Marriage in Australia

Australia is in a long, painful process of considering the legalization of same-sex marriage.

At this time in Australia, the Commonwealth Government is carrying out a voluntary, national, postal survey asking whether Australians believe that the Marriage Act ought to be amended to permit the legal union of same-sex couples.

For many socially-conservative Christians, this is a time of crisis which requires vocal activism in a effort to ensure that society both affirms and reflects values which they see as inherent in the sacrament of marriage as they understand it. We also see a need to be vocal as we contemplate the possibility that the state’s definition of legal marriage may one day come to be inclusive of LGBTI families. 

Since its foundation, the Apostolic Johannite Church, has affirmed the full equality of all persons and has always offered the sacrament of matrimony to any sincerely, loving couple. Rooted as it is in the reality of the Sacred Flame present in all beings, this isn’t an extraordinary application of the sacrament, but rather its fullest expression. 

Marriage equality isn’t a departure from of the meaning of Matrimony, but a fulfillment of it, and a recognition of the strength and the value that it can bring to the loving and committed relationships that we both desire and honour. That we should long to see the commitments we make before the Divine affirmed and reflected in the nation and society which we hold dear, is also a natural extension of these values. 

It is because of our commitments, because we believe in the sanctity of matrimony, because we believe the Sacred Flame is inherent in every human being and because the reality of loving same-sex couples raising beautiful, healthy children is right in front of us in our own communities – as a church, we yearn for this change to be completed.

Loud arguments are being made and strong invective used on both sides and, since this decision is being delegated to citizens, these arguments are being made within families and between friends as well as in the public arena. This will leave scars.

We pray that our relationships with those we love might survive this trial. We pray that our nation weathers this latest storm. We pray for the wisdom and strength of our leaders. We pray for those who feel victimised in the debate, that they may feel themselves surrounded by love. We pray that, in the end, love prevails

With Love,

+ The Most Reverend Timothy Mansfield
in ecclesia Mar Timotheos
Bishop of New South Wales
Apostolic Johannite Church

 

Conclave 2017: Final Thoughts and Thanks

Conclave 2017 officially comes to a close.

We had a packed program of hands on spiritual workshops, pastoral care learning and explorations of Gnostic spirituality.

There hasn’t been a Conclave program that hasn’t impressed me but this year’s schedule was particularly timely with the many circumstances we face individually, spiritually, communally and globally.

Every attendee, in my opinion, came away with a diverse set of tools and learning that can propel them into new areas of exploration. Every attendee also brought a unique set of tools and experiences that they joyfully shared with their fellow travellers.

Through each and to each, an abundance of opportunity to enter more fully into our communities and identities as Gnostics and Johannites was opened- with many also completing and beginning new portions of their spiritual journey as well

Four Confirmands, two Minor Order ordinands, one Diaconate and two sets of religious vows- stellar people embarking on new legs of their spiritual journeys.

It was also a great joy to hear of the many people inspired to take on new roles, new possibilities and new tasks, energized by the presence and work of their fellow Johannites. I was particularly inspired by how many of our parishes were represented not only by their leaders but also by their long time members, who bring so much to our local communities and the AJC as a whole.

My deep thanks to our excellent teachers- Bishops Mar Thomas and Mar Timotheos, Msgr Scott Rassbach, Very Rev. Tony Silvia, Very Rev. Bray Weaver and Fr. Joseph McCauslin- to this fine list we add our featured speaker- Dr. John Spangler.

You have given all of us much to work on, contemplate and explore, drawing on your considerable expertise, exploration and experience.

Finally, an extra and special thanks goes to Sr. Karen Weaver- who worked tirelessly and without fanfare to ensure we were all comfortable, well fed, and in the right places at the right times- you are a force of nature. Please take the gratitude of all of us for making this past week possible.

I miss you all already.

Now, in the spirit of Pentecost which we celebrated in our liturgies, we return to embark upon further journeys and work, enriched by the love that each has brought, each has grown and each takes home. May the Divine Beloved richly bless each of you.

Next year- the pendulum will swing in the direction of esoteric exploration and learning, and already I’ve heard the excitement begin anew. So as I bid farewell to Conclave 2017, I also leave you with the first announcement for Conclave 2018- its location.

We’ll be seeing you all in Portland, Oregon for Conclave 2018.

In the meantime- Be good to one another.

+ IOHANNES IV
Sovereign Pontiff and Patriarch

The Johannite Divine Office

The Apostolic Johannite Church is pleased to announce completion of the draft printing of the Johannite Divine Office, the Liturgy of the Hours

Written by Bishop Tim Mansfield and Deacon Michael Strojan, reviewed and edited by Bishop Tim Mansfield, Msgr. Scott Rassbach and Fr. Tony Silvia, and practice tested by Bro. Mark Donato and the Rev. Mr. Jonathan Stewart, a long awaited resource is now ready for use in the Apostolic Johannite Church.

While the Congregation of Liturgical Rites is currently reviewing formats for final printing, the text of the Divine Office is now available for use by the communities and members of the Apostolic Johannite Church.

New Parish: Co. Dublin – St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish

The Apostolic Johannite Church is pleased to announce the elevation of St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish under the leadership of the Rev. Deacon Matthew Backus.

Originally inaugurated as a Narthex in Chesterton, Indiana, the Parish of St. Bernard of Clairvaux is now located in Co. Dublin, Ireland, and has begun regular meetings under its Rector. Services will include Pre-Sanctified Communion, as well as discussion and study meetups in the Co. Dublin area.

Rev. Matthew was confirmed in the Holy Gnostic Church in 2013 on The Feast of St. Michael the Archangel by Very Rev. Fr. Bray Weaver and was received into the Order of Acolyte during the Patriarchal Mass of the 2014 AJC Conclave.

He has an extensive resume of service and honors in Freemasonry. Rev. Matthew was awarded the Knights of York Cross of Honour in 2016. Having served 7 times as a Past Presiding Officer, a Grand Officer for the Grand Chapter RAM, and much more. He is an S.I. in L’Ordre Martiniste and has been initiated into other traditions including Orders of Knighthood.

On October 2nd, 2016, Rev. Matthew was ordained to the Sacred Order of the Diaconate by His Grace, the Most Reverend Mar Thomas, Primate of the United States of America.

You can learn more and see a schedule of upcoming events at St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish at https://www.johannite.org/clairvaux/