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 teachings, 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

Wednesday May 13, 2020 / April 30, 2020
Mid-Pentecost or Prepolovenie. Tone three.
Fast. Fish Allowed
“Mozdok” and “Dubensk-Krasnogorodsk” (17th c.) Icons of the Most Holy Theotokos (movable holiday on the Prepolovenie – Mid-Pentecost).
Holy Apostle James, the brother of St. John the Theologian (44).
Uncovering of the relics (1558) of St. Nicetas, bishop of Novgorod (1108).
St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov), Bishop of the Caucasus and Stavropol (1867).
St. Donatus, bishop of Euroea in Epirus (387).
Uncovering of the relics of Hieromartyr Basil, bishop of Amasea (322).
Martyr Maximus of Ephesus.
New Martyr Argyra of Prussa (1725).
Venerable Clement the Hymnographer, abbot of the Studion (9th c.).
Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Of the Passion”.
Translation of the relics of Venerable Sabbas, abbot of Zvenigorod Monastery.
St. Erconwald, bishop of London ( 693) (Celtic & British).
Martyrs Eutropius and Estelle of Saintes (3rd. c.) (Gaul).
Sts. Quintian and Atticus (Greek).

The Scripture Readings

John 21:15-25

Jesus Restores Peter

15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”

And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. 18 Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.”19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”

The Beloved Disciple and His Book

20 Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” 21 Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?”

22 Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”

23 Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?”

24 This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.

25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

Acts 14:6-18

6 they became aware of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding region. 7 And they were preaching the gospel there.

Idolatry at Lystra

8 And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother’s womb, who had never walked. 9 Thisman heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, 10 said with a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet!” And he leaped and walked. 11 Now when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” 12 And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice with the multitudes.

14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out 15 and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, 16 who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” 18 And with these sayings they could scarcely restrain the multitudes from sacrificing to them.

John 7:14-30

14 Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. 15 And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?”

16 Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. 17 If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. 18 He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him. 19 Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?”

20 The people answered and said, “You have a demon. Who is seeking to kill You?”

21 Jesus answered and said to them, “I did one work, and you all marvel. 22 Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? 24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

Could This Be the Christ?

25 Now some of them from Jerusalem said, “Is this not He whom they seek to kill? 26 But look! He speaks boldly, and they say nothing to Him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is truly the Christ? 27 However, we know where this Man is from; but when the Christ comes, no one knows where He is from.”

28 Then Jesus cried out, as He taught in the temple, saying, “You both know Me, and you know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. 29 But I know Him, for I am from Him, and He sent Me.”

30 Therefore they sought to take Him; but no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come.

Abbot Tryphon

About Abbot Tryphon

The Very. Rev. Abbot Tryphon is Igumen of All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, Washington. 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. An enlightening read along these lines is “Restoring the Inner Heart: The Nous in Dostoevksky’s Ridiculous Man” by Mary Naumenko. Shows some of the historical development between Orthodox and Latin practices and does an excellent explanation on the Nous and other Orthodox views.

  2. I enjoyed this post very much – the nous – an interesting topic for sure. So many words in the post caught my attention to make me dwell further inside –
    The Church’s presence in the world is for the cure of humankind……
    Opening up of knowledge…..
    Logic and reason as it was meant to be used…..
    True nature…..
    Explore…..
    Union with God…..
    All so very beautiful thoughts to ponder! Thankyou and I will look for the books mentioned on your post and in the comments….God bless & take care – keep safe!
    Behold…..

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