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 understands 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

Thursday September 12, 2019 / August 30, 2019
13th Week after Pentecost. Tone three.
Sts. Alexander (340), John (595), and Paul the New (784), patriarchs of Constantinople.
Repose of Venerable Alexander, abbot of Svir (1533).
Translation of the relics (1724) of St. Alexander Nevsky (1263).
Uncovering of the relics of St. Daniel, prince of Moscow (1652).
New Hieromartyr Peter priest (1918).
New Hieromartyr Apollinaris (1918).
New Hieromartyr Paul priest and Virgin-martyr Elizaveta and Martyr Theodore (1937).
New Hieromartyr Schema-archimandrite Ignatius (Lebedev) of St. Peter’s Monastery (1938).
Hiero-confessor Archpriest Peter Cheltsov of Smolensk (1972).
Venerable Christopher of Palestine (6th c.).
Venerable Fantinus of Calabria (9th c.).
Synaxis of the Serbian Hierarchs: Sts. Sava I (1235), Arsenius (1266), Sava II (1271), Eustathius I (1285), James (1292), Nicodemus (1325), and Daniel II (1338), archbishops; Sts. Ioannicius II (1354), Spyridon (1388), Ephraim II (1395), Cyril (1419), Nicon (ca. 1439), Macarius (1574), Gabriel I (1659), patriarchs; and St. Gregory (1012), bishop.
St. Barlaam metropolitan of Moldavia (1657) (Romania).
Venerable Bryaene of Nisibis (318).
St. Eulalius, bishop of Caesarea (4th c.).
Sixteen Monk-martyrs of Thebes (Greek).
Six Martyrs of Melitene (Greek).
St. Sarmata of The Paradise (Greek).
Hieromartyr Felix and Martyrs Fortunatus, Septimius and Januarius (Greek).
St. Fiacrius of Brogillum (670) (Gaul).
Translation of the relics of St. Guthlac. Hieromonk of Crowland.

The Scripture Readings

Matthew 11:27-30

27 All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. 28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

2 Corinthians 10:7-18

Reality of Paul’s Authority

7 Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ’s, let him again consider this in himself, that just as he is Christ’s, even so we are Christ’s. 8 For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed— 9 lest I seem to terrify you by letters. 10 “For his letters,” they say, “are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” 11 Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when we are absent, such we will also be in deed when we are present.

Limits of Paul’s Authority

12 For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. 13 We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us—a sphere which especially includes you. 14 For we are not overextending ourselves (as though our authority did not extend to you), for it was to you that we came with the gospel of Christ; 15 not boasting of things beyond measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but having hope, that as your faith is increased, we shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere, 16 to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man’s sphere of accomplishment.

17 But “he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” 18 For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.

Mark 3:28-35

The Unpardonable Sin

28 “Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; 29 but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation”— 30 because they said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Jesus’ Mother and Brothers Send for Him

31 Then His brothers and His mother came, and standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him. 32 And a multitude was sitting around Him; and they said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking You.”

33 But He answered them, saying, “Who is My mother, or My brothers?” 34 And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.”

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.

3 comments:

  1. While Met. Hierotheos is correct, Orthodoxy does contain the roots of Scholasticism, as St. John of Damascus’ three-volume philosophical work, “The Fount of Knowledge” demonstrates. Rational analysis of the faith is not foreign to us, but is simply not the end.

  2. Good morning Father,
    In my search for the true Church and the study of it’s history , I often wondered “How did people get ‘saved’ and ‘grow’ …” before full canon , confessions , Institutes , ect. to guide them. Your explanation seems , to a point, akin to Protestant sanctification yet much fuller and deeper- “holistic” , if I may use that term. Appreciate this post, fills in some ‘blanks’ in my learning!

  3. Very well said; I printed it to keep and read every once in a while as a reminder!
    We should know this even from following Jesus, because it is very clear in His teachings, He went for the heart, not the head.

    God bless!

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