"Perhaps the time has come to say farewell to the idea of traditionally Catholic-Orthodox cultures. Maybe we are facing a new and different kind of epoch in the Church’s history, where Christianity will again be characterized more by the mustard seed, where it will exist in small, seemingly insignificant groups that nonetheless live an intensive struggle against evil and bring the good into the world...."
"The Church... will be less identified with the great societies, more a minority Church; she will live in small, vital circles of really convinced believers who live their faith. But precisely in this way she will, biblically speaking, become the salt of the earth again."
Benedict XVI Bishop of Rome
"The Church is a hospital, and not a courtroom, for souls." (St. John the Chrysostom)
The Society of Jesus Christ Orthodox Catholic Church is a mystic fraternity, an autocephalous Orthodox Church, comprised of clergy and laypeople. It aims to address the spiritual concerns of the human condition in light of the teachings of the one, holy Orthodox-Catholic and Apostolic Church. It proposes a salvific Orthodox-Catholic Christian alternative to our brothers and sisters across autocephalous Catholicism and Orthodoxy. The Society of Jesus Christ, is part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church founded by the Lord Jesus, and is under the jurisdiction of the ORTHODOX PATRIARCHATE OF THE NATIONS http://www.patriarcat-orthodoxe.eu/
Our church is under the omophorion and canonical obedience of his Holiness Patriarch Nicholas I of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Nations http://www.patriarcat-orthodoxe.eu/patriarche-nicolas/.
The Society is headquartered in the US, and functions under the provisions of the law of the State of Michigan, being duly and legally registered as "ecclesiastical corporation" under the name "The Society of Jesus Christ Orthodox Catholic Church".
In keeping with the church's teaching on universality and with the Nicene Creed, Orthodox authorities such as Saint Raphael of Brooklyn (1860-1915) have insisted that the full name of the church has always included the term "Catholic/Universal", as in "HOLY CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH". The official name of the Eastern Orthodox Church is therefore the Orthodox Catholic Church. It is the name by which the church refers to itself in its liturgical or canonical texts, in official publications, and in official contexts or administrative documents. Our church is not affiliated in any ways with the Roman Catholic Church.
We are an Orthodox Church engaged in both the outer as well as inner/ mystical aspects of Christianity (cf. Matthew 13:11). Our mission is to engage with Christian Mysticism, as understood by the Fathers of the Church and Orthodox Catholicism/Catholic Orthodoxy. From this point of view we can be considered an "Ortho-Gnostic"/Orthodox-Gnostic Church (from the Greek ὀρθο= right and γνῶσις = knowledge, which translates as the Right/Correct/Orthodox Knowledge in consensus with the Orthodox understanding of Gnosis. We believe that Christian Mysticism - The Orthodoxy (the true nature of Man)/Knowledge/Gnosis of the Heart- is the valid spiritual pursuit, as it originates in the Divine Source-God the Father, the Creator of heaven and earth, and speaks about the Ultimate Reality of God the Father. This was the partial knowledge-Orthodoxy- that God imparted to Adam and Eve before the Fall. An example of what the Society's spiritual pursuits are all about, is Heysichasm in Eastern Orthodoxy. Well known saints of the Orthodox-Catholic Church such as St. Gregory Palamas, St. Simeon the New Theologian, St. John Maximovitch the Wonder-Worker, St. John of the Cross and so many other saints (either pat of the Eastern or the Western Church), were essentially mystics/gnostics-intimate knowers of God's Kingdom.
What do you mean by "Christian Mysticism"?
Because Christian Mysticism (also known by the Alexandrine Orthodox Church as "Gnosis" ), means nowadays many things to many people/groups, is important to underline our position on what Gnosis (The Orthodoxy of the Heart as St. Seraphim Rose called it) means. Our understanding of "Gnosis" is in conformity with the understanding of the whole Catholic Orthodox/Universal Church and the Church Fathers, as expressed by St Clement of Alexandria (+ aprox. 206).
St. Clement underlines that Faith is the foundation of all gnosis, and both are given by Jesus Christ. As faith involves a comprehensive knowledge of the essentials, knowledge allows the believer to penetrate deeply into the understanding of what he believes; this is the making perfect, the completion, of faith. In order to attain this kind of faith, the "faith of knowledge," which is so much higher than the mere "faith of conjecture," or simple reception of a truth on authority, philosophy is necessary. Christianity truly is a philosophy, and the perfected Orthodox Christian is the true gnostic—but again, only "gnostic according to the canon of the Church," not as in the heretical sects of early Christianity.
The way of union with God "theosis" is in our understanding only the Church's Way exclusively through the birth, mission, crucifixion, death and Resurrection of JESUS CHRIST, and not as an individual "self" pursuit/endeavor/achievement. Both the deification of Man (theosis) and the spiritualization of the world and matter lie at the core of the loftiest goals of Orthodoxy. Both are grounded in the Lord Christ Jesus. Theosis is thus our ultimate goal, as it should be the purpose of every christian. Unlike Clement of Alexandria (accused of heresy because of his alleged Docetism on the teaching of the Incarnation of Christ), we hold the Orthodox- Catholic understanding of the Church, of Jesus Christ as being fully God and fully human.
The Gnostic with a True Name
Gnosticism was an early heresy which the Universal (early) Church has fought and defeated. However, nowadays we are seeing a massive resurgence of this dangerous heresy-"the mother of all heresies", especially in the popular culture, through movies such as "Star Wars", which have become a powerful mass culture phenomenon spreading across the cultural landscape like a wildfire. It is why a brief historical examination and denunciation of (false/heretical) Gnosticism is necessary. The label “Gnosis/gnostics” was claimed by at least some of the heretics in early Christianity, such as the Valentinians, the Charpocratians etc. According to Borella (2001), the appropriation of this denominator/designation by the heresiarchs is illegitimate. Neither the heretics themselves nor the latter theologians who analyzed the theological thinking of the heretical sects have the “right” to use the name "Gnostic". If anything, Gnosis is never to be used in a negative/derogatory manner.
The name Gnostic therefore has no identifiable heresiological value. The historical record of the Early Church points to exactly the opposite: the early Christian tradition /Apostolic Orthodox Christianity made a legitimate and good use of the term gnosis. The heresiologist were quick in denouncing the abuse of the word "gnosis" by heretics and were clear about the misuse of this term by the enemies of the Christian Orthodoxy. In spite of the fact that some heretical groups have (falsely) claimed for themselves the term “gnostic”, Gnosis is primarily Jewish and principally and unquestionably Christian. For example the orthodox father, St. Epiphanius the bishop of Salamis strongly claimed that “the Valentinians… are not Gnostics”( Borella, 8). If anything the heretics can be called "false gnostics" or "pseudo-gnostics".
For instance, St. Paul the Apostle was the first one to expose the fraud of “pseudognosis” inviting his disciple, Timothy, to flee “the contradictions of what is falsely called gnosis” (Greek: “antitheses thes pseudonimou gnoseos” (1 Tim. 6:20). Unquestionably St. Paul felt the need to defend the very word “gnosis”. This demonstrates that St. Paul made a very clear distinction between true gnosis /divine knowledge and false gnosis/pseudognosis.
Furthermore, the Apostle of the Gentiles speaks of a falsely named knowledge/Gnosis. He implies that True Knowledge/Gnosis is also The Knowledge by excellence, that unique knowledge (of higher order), reserved only for the term Gnosis. In fact, in an Orthodox context, separating Gnosis from theosis is impossible. Therefore Gnosis (far from being a heresiological category ), is an orthodox denominator through and through, an “immense and sacrosanct reality” (in Borella’s words), a profound and mysterious reality of the Great Mystery/Ultimate Reality of God the Father, the Creator of haven and earth, the Jehovah ( יהוה) of the Holy Bible . Gnosis was spoken about among the first Christians themselves without need or further explanation (or fear of being misunderstood!), both because each one concurs in seeing here a designation for the inward and intimate “knowledge” of God, for the effective and heartfelt awareness of the Holy Spirit, infusing itself into the soul of the believer through the grace of Jesus Christ. In brief, Gnosis by a true name is the realization of the Orthodox faith.
Such knowledge, is unutterable and it transcends every soul, distinction, and formal awareness that one can have for it. This is why St. Paul is very clear that “not all posess gnosis” (1 Cor 1:7), but also that a poorly (twisted/defective) understanding of gnosis makes one proud: (1 Cor. 8:2-3). St. Clement of Alexandria, “the preeminent doctor of Christian gnosis” concurs to St. Paul’s thoughts on this matter.
Gnosis in the Eastern Orthodox Mystical Thought
Gnosis in Orthodox Christian (especially Eastern Orthodox) thought is the spiritual knowledge of a saint (one who has been granted by God- theosis), a mystically enlightened human being. Within the cultures of the term's provenance (Byzantine and Hellenic) Gnosis was a knowledge or insight into the infinite, divine and uncreated in all and above all, rather than knowledge strictly into the finite, natural or material world (see St. Gregory of Palamas). Gnosis is a transcendental as well as mature understanding of things divine. It indicates direct spiritual experiential and intuitive knowledge, mystic rather than that from rational or reasoned thinking. Gnosis itself is obtained through understanding at which one can arrive via inner experience or contemplation such as an internal epiphany of intuition and external epiphany such as the Theophany.
In the Philokalia it is emphasized that such knowledge is not secret knowledge but rather a maturing, transcendent form of knowledge derived from contemplation (theoria resulting from practice of hesychasm), since knowledge cannot truly be derived from knowledge but rather knowledge can only be derived from theoria (to witness, see (vision) or experience). Knowledge thus plays an important role in relation to theosis (deification/personal relationship with God) and theoria (revelation of the divine, vision of God). Gnosis, as the proper use of the spiritual or noetic faculty plays an important role in Orthodox Christian theology. Its importance in the economy of salvation is discussed periodically in the Philokalia whereas direct, personal knowledge of God (noesis; see also Noema) it is distinguished from ordinary epistemological knowledge (episteme—i.e., speculative philosophy).
The Society of Jesus Christ is part of Autocephalous Orthodoxy. The SJC is an Orthodox/Catholic Christian Ecclesia, which is not connected in any manner with the Roman-Catholic Church, proposing an orthodox centered understanding of the life and mission of the Lord Jesus Christ, being open however to a mystical interpretation of the Divine Mystery. The Society is headquartered in Michigan and functions under the episcopal oversight of Bishop Marius Sidau SJC (Michigan).
The members of the Society seek to realize, in their individual and collective efforts, the Kingdom of God on earth, through the frequent celebration of The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and meditation upon the life and ministry of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This holy work is done so that the poor are fed, the sick healed, and the broken in spirit made whole as commanded by the Lord Jesus.
The Society is legally incorporated in the United States (the State of Michigan),as an ecclesiastical corporation/church. Our license/certificate of good standing, is available at the bottom of this page.
Our charisma is to seek spiritual fulfillment through Christian Mysticism and theosis (deification), in our lives. "Christ was made man that we might be made God", said St. Athanasius of Alexandria about the Incarnation of Christ. Thus becoming Christ like, is our main objective. This is done through partaking of the Holy Mysteries/Sacraments of our Lord Jesus Christ, as well as by being soldiers in the service of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 6: 10-20), in the pursuit of the salvation of our souls.
The Society derives its Apostolic Succession from our Lord Jesus Christ from the Old Catholic Church and the American Orthodox Catholic Church/Archbishop Abdullah Aftimios Ofiesh. The Apostolic Succession is available as a PDF attachment at the bottom of this page.
Positioning on the Theological Spectrum
The SJC is an Orthodox Catholic Ecclesia grounded in the Orthodox Catholic Tradition and the Fathers of the Church. We are traditional, mystical and monastic.
The Society acknowledges seven sacraments- Baptism, Eucharist, Penance, Confirmation, Matrimony, Holy Orders and Holy Unction. These sacraments are fundamental to the life in Christ of this Society.
Policy on Holy Orders
Prerequisites for ordination to Priesthood:
1. Candidate must be male
2. Trinitarian Baptism
4. Criminal Background Check must be supplied by the candidate at his expense, in one week.
5. Psychological and/or psychiatric evaluation must be supplied by the candidate in 3 weeks.
6. Candidate must not exhibit a sexual orientation contrary to the Natural Law and the Holy Bible. We teach what the Church has always professed, namely that homosexuality is an intrinsic moral disorder; thus we do not ordain passive or active homosexuals. We emphasize nevertheless the fundamental human dignity of homosexual people condemning the sin and not the person.
7. Sign the Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Policy. We do not ordain sexual criminals. We do justly discriminate since God the Creator of heaven and earth discriminates.
8. Provide a written exhaustive CV
9. Fair theological training -(this training is mostly done using the Socratic Method). The length of this process depends exclusively on the bishop. The final decision on the matter resides exclusively and always with the bishop.
10. Signed profession of the Nicene Creed
11. Candidate must not be past or present member of secret/occult societies such as Freemasonry.
12. Discernment process
The 12 requirements above are not subject to dispensation or negotiation. Most importantly, in order for any candidate to enter preliminary vocational discussions with the bishop, the candidate must satisfy criteria 1, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 11.
The Society acknowledges women into the ancient ministry of deaconesses, as was the practice of the early Christian communities, and it is still preserved (for instance), in the Armenian Apostolic Church. We do not ordain women as priests and bishops, since we believe that: a. it is contrary to the Apostolic practice, and b. it constitutes a sacramental impossibility.
Among the different groups of Autocephalous Catholicism and Orthodoxy, there is significant confusions. This is due (in part) to the mushrooming of bodies that have occupied a landscape where very few rules (if any) exist. A Spiritual Wild West of sorts.
In such prolix context, we believe that clear definitions and creeds have an absolutely necessary place. This in order to prevent misunderstandings and confusion between the Society and other groups across Catholicism outside of Rome, whose allegiance to basic Christianity (such as affirmed clearly on the Nicene Creed), is often questionable.
Another contributing factor to the existent bewilderedness, is the syncrethistic practices, often of anti-Christian mindset. We distance ourselves of such practices, and make clear that the SJC is a unique sprout within the Catholic Tradition, which emphasizes an Orthodox/Catholic Mystical and thus Christ-centered spirituality.
What Do We Mean by "Orthodox Catholic"?
The Society derives its Holy Orders/Apostolic Succession from the American Orthodox Catholic Church/Archbishop Abdullah Aftimios Ofiesh, and from the Old Catholic Church. Therefore we believe that, although the creeds of what the Church has always thought must be openly and clearly professed, critical thinking (biblical criticism in the light of current realities and modern scientific discoveries), must always be considered. However, we certainly do not understand the notion of being "Orthodox Catholic" in the context of the political spectrum, or as an umbrella term that facilitates questionable morality, encourages or shelters anti-Christian, anti-social, and anti-human ideas and behaviors. In short- we do not support liturgical abuse, or promiscuous/immoral lifestyles justified by the concept of "liberty" and "freedom". We believe that the Church of Christ is not a democracy and the Kingdom of God not an anarchy; thus, in the earthly Church, some basic and clear rules must exist for our own good as human beings.
We believe in a "Church of Mercy and Compassion" (St. John the Chrysostom), where rules must, at times, (and when justfied), be softened for the benefit and salvation of souls. This softening of the rules is called in the Orthodox Church "economy", from the Greek οἰκονομία (oikonomia). We do not advance a legalistic and hypocritical Orthodoxy governed via the use of soulless and rigid rules with an iron fist for petty interests and human ambitions, but rather a genuine and Mystical Orthodoxy, rooted in both -the Eastern Orthodox mystical tradition-as well as on intellectual investigation. We believe, with St. John the Chrysostom, that the "Church is a hospital and not a courtroom for souls" (St. John Chrysostom).
Although we do have a compassionate attitude towards the human condition, we separate ourselves from the excesses and abuses that afflict non canonical Catholicism and Orthodoxy , and society at large: the dictatorship of relativism and the culture of death. These afflictions of the spirit have a profoundly negative effect across authocephalous churches: the questioning or denial of the existence of an objective evil outside of the human mind (Satan), "The Picnic Mass", "the Gaea Syndrome", simony, poorly prepared clergy, anti-Christian affiliations and practices, radical feminism, aggressive "LGBTQ" propaganda, leftist political radicalism, blurred boundaries of the Moral Law which open the door for criminal behavior of the worse kind, etc. These spiritual illnesses are often rooted in the lack of the most basic vocational discernment, as well as, theological and liturgical training, being justified in the name of "freedom of thought", "enlightenment", "avant-garde" "equality", "progress", "inclusiveness", and other such New Age diluted terminology (often giving plenty of room for personal twist and interpretation in accordance with one's sins!), and in some instances purposefully misleading of minds and souls and endangering their salvation.
A Jesus Christ Centered Society
We are a unique Society across Christendom, centered on Christian Orthodox Catholicism open, however, to theological exploration and personal freedom within the boundaries of what the Church has always professed and practiced. We do not oppose intellectual exploration. Christian Orthodoxy remains however, the primarily and ultimate reference point for this Society.
We are opened to mystical interpretations of Christianity, as long as these interpretations are centered on Jesus Christ and His Kingdom and in conformity with the teachings of the Orthodox Catholic Church across time and space (see St. Vincent of Lerins's Principle: "what all men have at all times and everywhere believed, must be regarded as true"). We believe that a mystical understanding of Christianity is legitimate because our Lord Jesus Himself spoke about the Church of the Initiates (Mathew 13:11).
St Clement of Alexandria named mystical understanding"Gnosis"-mystical knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, the true secret of the Kingdom of God. We do not mean by "gnosis" the heretical teachings of the various Gnostic sects which coexisted with early Christianity. Most importantly we do not mean by "gnosis" Gnostic Hermeticism -pagan Gnosticism and neo- Gnosticism (rampant under the contemporary New Age phenomenon), both of which border (or sometimes explicitly profess), a luciferian twist of spiritual realities.
The Orthodoxy of the Heart, begs two important questions:
1st Are we Orthodox?
2nd (as a logical consequence of question number one) who forms Christ's Church?
The answer for the 1st question is that we are indeed Orthodox Christians.
As for the second question, when attempting to define who constitutes Christ's Church, our position is clear: anybody which professes an open allegiance to Jesus Christ and His Kingdom, is baptized in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and acknowledging Jesus as his/her personal Lord and Savior and leads a Christian life, constitutes the Christian Church. As Orthodox Christians we believe and profess that our Lord Christ is the Ultimate Reality, the Incarnated Word of God, and the "Way, the Truth and the Life" ( John 14:6).
Allegiance to the Ultimate and Eternal Truth -Jesus Christ- brings about decisions and responsibility. Being fundamentally Christ centered, we distance ourselves from organizations that are of evil/satanic inspiration. Some of these groups abound in non canonical churches; they openly profess (and attempt to implement in society) agendas contrary to both God and Man. Under this infamous umbrella fall some of the so called "ultra secret societies" such as Freemasonry, and various pseudo "liberal" catholic- sub microscopic groups-some of which (in spite of their professed "secrecy"), have become increasingly present, outspoken, and at times openly hostile towards Christianity and the Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps what is even more spiritually dangerous, is the practice of some of these groups (often possessing questionable Holy Orders!), of "ordaining" individuals that are either not Christian/baptized, or when and if they are baptized, loyalty to basic Christianity does not exist, or, is considerably diluted.
We consider that the ideas promoted by some of these very questionable, occult and dubious organizations, allegedly in the pursuit of "gnosis", are clearly opposed to what St. Clement of Alexandria alluded as being genuine "Christian Gnosis"/Christian Mysticism (within a Christian Orthodox/Catholic Church sanctioned context), and have no right to claim a place at the spiritual table of the True Knowledge of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. We underline that the sole source of authentic gnosis/knowledge of God is Jesus Christ and His Revelation. Any other sources are not from God, but from Satan and for the perdition of souls, whatever these groups may claim, in order to justify their twisted propaganda.
We also distance ourselves from groups which (although claim theoretical allegiance to the "Catholic Tradition"), have absolutely nothing in common (and in some cases are blatantly adversary!) to basic Christian dogmas (e.g. the Dogma of the Holy Trinity, the Incarnation of the Son of God and the theology of the Atonement of Christ on the Cross, the bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Orthodox/Catholic understanding and practice concerning the Holy Orders, etc). Such is the case with many of the groups descending historically from the Liberal Catholic Church, which have lately flooded the ISM (so called "Independent Sacramental Movement" -term consecrated by Peter Anson), under the form of a veritable Syncretistic Spiritual Global Market. It is here where questionable and spiritually dangerous types of (spiritual) commodities are displayed for purchase often by mentally unbalanced individuals that have very little or nothing to do with the Priesthood of Jesus Christ, or are openly antagonistic to it!
We demand from our members a clear and unquestionable Christ centered orientation, and professed allegiance to basic Christian Doctrine, summarized in the Apostolic Creed and the Nicene Creed.
Therefore we are a "credal" and "dogmatic" church, because we believe that being Christian demands the clear profession of the basics of the Orthodox Christian faith, and clear allegiance to Jesus Christ alone.
Thus, from our point of view, groups-as the ones clearly anti-Christian- do not qualify as "catholic", since Catholicism is always defined in relationship with Orthodoxy and an unquestionable allegiance to Jesus Christ and His Church, as well as the Christian Orthodox-Catholic Apostolic Tradition.
Our views are open towards, and considerate of the Modern Man living in a civilized, well connected and sophisticated cultural context and increasingly globalized society. However, we profess the distinctiveness and importance of the divinely revealed Truth of Jesus Christ above all truths, and insist on both-the importance of the Natural Law, and the Law of God in the heart of Man. From the Society's point of view the Ten Commandments- synthesis of the Divine Law- is the norm of Christian morality, and the building blocks of a functional society.
We are not a cult; we certainly do not control/regulate personal aspects of our member's lives. We start with the premises that the ones who want to affiliate with us, in whatever capacity they choose to do so, are spiritually mature and responsible human beings, honest individuals which understand, profess and live in their daily lives, Christian Morality. We encourage them to commit to healthy and loving relationships based on respect between partners, mutual trust and help. However we underline that homosexuality for instance, "the sacrament of monism" (J. Singer), is an intrinsic moral disorder, a consequence of the Fall of Man, that is contrary to both Scripture/the Holy Bible and the Church's Tradition.
We strongly disapprove of the using of other human beings, no matter what forms this use may take! We believe that using others, is always an evil action in direct conflict with the Law and Commandment of Christ's Love, and is absolutely incompatible with both: the basic rules of common living and Christian vocation.
Concerning the Holy Mystery of Marriage/Matrimony, the Society recognizes the sacramental nature of marriage possible only between a man and a woman in conformity with the biblical and thus Christian orthodox and traditional understanding of marriage.
In addition, we encourage a monastic tradition among the Society among the members which feel this call. We do not understand monasticism (exclusively) in the classic/as related to the past/historical sense. Like in all things, we try, as best as we can, to be realistic and pragmatic. Thus, our monastic members often live in their in their own homes under semi-monastic/Oblature vows, vocation sanctioned by the Orthodox Catholic Church. Their marital status also varies: some are celibate, some married functioning in accordance with their call and the spirituality of the specific monastic tradition that they follow.