Noetic Faculty

The energy of the mind inside the heart

In the patristic tradition the heart is the center of our self-awareness. This self-awareness is the energy of the mind inside the heart, something the holy fathers referred to as our “noetic faculty”. There is an important distinction that must be noted concerning the difference between the Western and Eastern understanding of how we come to know God. The scholastic approach that places emphasis on the use of logic and reason in the acquisition of the knowledge of God, as seen in the teachings of Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas, is unknown in the East.

The Ancient Church taught that knowledge of God comes only through the noetic science of the heart. From the standpoint of Orthodox theology, the mind and logic are not the same thing, since logic functions within the brain, while the mind functions within the heart. Thus, the noetic faculty of the heart is the energy of the mind inside the heart. This important distinction results in the Eastern Church seeing herself not as a religious institution, but rather a hospital of the soul, wherein one comes for therapeutic procedures that restore the health of the soul, and allow for the ultimate goal of union with God (theosis). For those who wish further understanding of these ancient Christian teaching, the writings of my favorite modern theologian, Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, are a worthy read.

It is within the life of the Church that we enter into ascetic struggle, “working out”, just as an athlete, through fasting and prayer, and the reception of the Holy Mysteries (Holy Communion), in order to be made well. We are restored to health within the walls of this hospital of the soul, the Church, and trained to this athletic/ascetic dimension of living.

Our mishandling of the memory of God that led to the fall, is now corrected and reactivated through the healing of the “nous” (the eye of the soul), and that memory is restored. This memory is not the reclamation of something of an historical nature, but rather the opening up of a knowledge that has always been there. This healing is not of a juridical nature whereby an angry God has decided to overlook the evil and fallen nature of our souls by the bloodletting of His Son, but by the cleansing of the nous that has been darkened, restoring us to health and wholeness. The memory of God is thus restored, and we are again in full communion with the Most High, freed from the permanency of death by the trampling down of the power of death through Christ’s Holy Resurrection.

The purpose of the Church’s presence in the world is for the cure of humankind, and the restoration of the hearts of men and women. The Church thus functions as a therapy centered hospital, and the priests function as therapists. This Divine-human Organism is the living Body of Christ, the Church, and is life itself. The healing of the nous that comes within the life of the Church returns us to our true nature. In this state of wholeness our faculties are able to use logic and reason as it was meant to be used. Our reason and logic becomes the rightful vehicle by which we can explore the universe, and behold all that God has created, and science, nature, and even the cosmos, can be seen in the light of a heart is the center of our self-awareness.

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photo: The monastery’s common room and library.

Sunday February 17, 2019 / February 4, 2019
Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee. Tone five.
Synaxis of All Saints of Perm Metropolia (movable holiday on the Sunday after January 29th).
Venerable Isidore of Pelusium, monk (436-440).
St. George, prince of Vladimir (1238).
Venerable Cyril, abbot, wonderworker of New Lake (Novgorod) (1532).
New Hieromartyr Methodius bishop of Petropavlovsk (1921).
New Hieromartyrs Eustaphius, John, Alexander, Sergius, John, Theodora, Aleksander, Nicholas, Alexis, Nicholas, Alexis, Alexander, Arcadius, Boris, Michael, Nicholas, Alexis, Andrew, Demetrius, John, Peter priests, Martyr Seraphim, Virgin-martyrs Rafaila, Anna, Catherine, and Martyrs John, Basil, Demetrius, Theodore, and Demetrius (1938).
Venerable Abraham and St. Coprius, monks, of Pechenga (Vologda) (15th c.).
Martyrs Jadorus and Isidore who suffered under Decius (249-251).
Hieromartyr Abramius, bishop of Arbela in Assyria (ca. 344-347).
Venerable Nicholas the Confessor, abbot of the Studion (868).
St. John, of Irenopolis (325).
Venerable Aldate, hieromartyr of Gloucester, England (6th c.) (Celtic & British).
St. Modan, abbot of Stirling and Falkirk.
Martyr Theoctistus (1686) (Greek).
St. Jasim the Wonderwoker (1686) (Greek).
New Martyr Joseph of Aleppo (1686) (Greek).
Hieromartyr Phileas, bishop of Thmuis and martyr Philoromus the Magistrate (303).
St. Evagrius, fellow-ascetic of St. Shio of Mgvime (6th c.) (Georgia).

The Scripture Readings

Luke 24:12-35

12 But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.

The Road to Emmaus

13 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.

17 And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”

18 Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?”

19 And He said to them, “What things?”

So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. 22 Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. 23 When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24 And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”

25 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

The Disciples’ Eyes Opened

28 Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. 29 But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them.

30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.

32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” 33 So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.

2 Timothy 3:10-15

The Man of God and the Word of God

10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Luke 18:10-14

10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Abbot Tryphon

About Abbot Tryphon

The Very. Rev. Abbot Tryphon All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, Washington. The Monastery is under the omophore of The Most Rev. Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America, of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Situated in the heart of a beautiful forest, surrounded by the Salish Sea, the monastery is reached by ferry from either Seattle, or Tacoma, Washington.

2 comments:

  1. Fr Tryphon, finally I understand your objection to St. Thomas, you are applying it to the noetic faculty and I here completely and heartily agree with you and what you have written about the difference between the Eastern and Western Christian traditions and the uselessness of rationality in healing the nous.

    However, you have unfortunately been willing to discount traditional Christian anthropology and cosmology, believing that only science can speak with authority to these things. Father, you need someone on your side who can go toe to toe with scientism and deracinate its false teaching. Father, you need St. Thomas Aquinas.

    1. Toward the end of his life, Thomas Aquinas rejected much of what he had written, having come to know that true faith comes noeticly. I did study Aquinas while at the Dominican School of Theology in Berkeley, and embraced Orthodoxy because of her mystical approach.

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