Dorotheus of Gaza: “This is the Day of Resurrection! Let Us Offer Ourselves as a Sacrifice” Wednesday, May 14 2014 

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In antiquity the sons of Israel, on the feast-days or triumphs, offered to God gifts according to the Law, that is sacrifices, whole-burnt offerings, first-fruits and the like.

Therefore St. Gregory [Nazianzen] teaches us also (like them) to make celebration unto the Lord, as they did, and inspires us, saying, “The day of Resurrection,” in place of the “The day of the holy feast, the day of the Divine solemnity, the day of the Pascha of Christ.”

And what does the Pascha of Christ mean? The sons of Israel performed the Pascha, Passover when they departed from Egypt; and now Pascha, the celebration of which St. Gregory is encouraging us to keep, is performed by the soul which departs from the mental Egypt, that is, sin.

For when the soul passes over from sin to virtue, that is when it celebrates the Pascha of the Lord as Evagrius has said; the Pascha of the Lord is the passing over from evil to good.

And thus now today is the Pascha of the Lord, the Day of the Bright Festival, the Day of the Resurrection of Christ Who has crucified sin, Who has died for us and arisen.

Let us also offer to the Lord gifts, sacrifices, whole-burnt offerings–not of irrational animals, which Christ does not wish, for sacrifice and offering hast thou not desired. Whole burnt offerings and oblations for sin hast Thou not demanded (Ps. 39:9, 10). And Isaiah says, of what value to me is the abundance of your sacrifices? saith the Lord (Is. 1:11)….

The Lamb of God was killed for us, according to the words of the Apostle who said For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us (I Cor. 5:7).

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us –  for it is written, cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree (Gal. 3:13, Deut. 21:23) –  to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons (Gal. 4:5); and so we also should offer Him a certain God-pleasing gift.

And what kind of gift or what kind of sacrifice is it that we should offer to Christ on the day of the Resurrection…? The same Saint [Gregory] instructs us again in this, for having said, “The day of Resurrection” he adds, “Let us offer ourselves.”

Thus also the Apostle says, present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service (Rom. 12:1). And how should we offer our bodies to God as a living and holy sacrifice? By no longer fulfilling the will of our flesh and our thoughts (Eph. 2:3), but acting in the Spirit.

Dorotheos of Gaza (505-565 or 620):  Conference 21 – An Explanation of Certain Expressions of St Gregory the Theologian which are Sung together with the Troparia on Holy Pascha @ Pravoslavie.

 

Dorotheus of Gaza: Preservation of Conscience Friday, Apr 4 2014 

Dorotheus_of_GazaContinued from here….

Let us strive to preserve our conscience while we are in this world, let us not allow it to refuse us in any matter.

Let us not trample upon it in any way, even in the smallest thing.

Know that from disdaining this small thing which is in essence nothing, we go on to disdain also a great thing.

[...] One may begin to say, “What does it matter if I say this word? What does it matter if I eat this thing? What does it matter if I look at this or that thing?”

From this “what does it matter about this or that?” one falls into a bad habit and begins to disdain what is great and important and to trample down one’s conscience, and thus becoming hardened in evil, one is in danger of coming to complete lack of feeling.

Wherefore guard yourselves, O brethren, from disdaining what is small, guard yourself from trampling upon it, looking down upon it as something small and unimportant.

It is not small, for through it a bad habit is formed. Let us pay heed to ourselves and be concerned for what is light while it is still light, so that it will not become heavy: for both virtues and sins begin from the small and go on to become great good and evil.

Therefore the Lord commands us to preserve our conscience and, as it were, He especially exhorts each of us, saying: “Look what you are doing, unfortunate one! Come to yourself, be reconciled with your adversary [i.e. your conscience] while you are in the way with him.”

[...] In relation to God, a man preserves his conscience if he does not disdain God through His commandments; and even in what people do not see, and in what no one demands of us, he preserves his conscience towards God in secret.

For example, one may have grown lazy in prayer, or a passionate thought has entered his heart, and he did not oppose this and did not restrain himself, but accepted it; or when one has seen his neighbor doing or saying something and, as it often the case, he judged him.

In short, everything that happens in secret, which no one knows except God and our conscience, we must preserve; and this is preservation of the conscience in relation to God.

And the preservation of the conscience in relation to one’s neighbor demands that we do nothing at all which, as far as we know, offends or tempts our neighbor by deed, word, appearance, or a glance.

Dorotheos of Gaza (505-565 or 620): Conference 3 – On the Conscience @ Pravoslavie.

Dorotheus of Gaza: The Light of Conscience Saturday, Mar 22 2014 

Dorotheus_of_GazaWhen God created man He sowed in him something divine, a certain thought which has in itself, like a spark, both light and warmth; a thought which enlightens the mind and indicates to it what is good and what is evil—this is called conscience, and it is a natural law.

This is that well which, as the Holy Fathers interpret it, Isaac dug and the Philistines covered up (Gen. 26:18). Following this law, that is, conscience, the Patriarchs and all the saints pleased God before the written Law.

But when men through the fall of sin buried and trampled upon it, then the written Law became necessary, the Holy Prophets became necessary, the very Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ became necessary in order to reveal and move it (the conscience)—in order that this buried spark might again be ignited by the keeping of His Holy Commandments.

Now it is in our power either to again bury it or to allow it to shine in us and illuminate us, if we shall submit to it. For when our conscience tells us to do something and we disdain it, and when it again speaks, and we do not do what it says, but rather continue to trample upon it, then we bury it and it can no longer speak clearly to us from the weight that lies upon it.

But like a lamp which hangs behind a curtain, it begins to show us things more darkly. And just as no one can recognize his own face in water that is obscured by many weeds, so after the transgression, we also do not understand what our conscience tells us—so that it seems to us that we have no conscience at all.

However, there is no man who has no conscience, for it is, as we have already said, something divine and never perishes. It always reminds us of what is profitable, but we do not feel it because, as has already been said, we disdain it and trample upon it.

Wherefore the Prophet laments over Ephraim and says (Hosea 5:11) Ephraim altogether prevailed against his adversary, he trod judgment under foot. By adversary was meant the conscience. [...] But why is the conscience called the adversary?

It is called adversary because it always opposes our evil will and reminds us what we must do but do not do; and again, what we should not do but do, and for this it judges us, which is why the Lord calls it the adversary and commands us saying, Agree with thine adversary quickly, while thou art in the way with him (Matt. 25:26). The way, as St. Basil the Great says, is this world.

Dorotheos of Gaza (505-565 or 620): Conference 3 – On the Conscience @ Pravoslavie.

Dorotheus of Gaza: It is Humility Alone that may Conduct Us into the Kingdom Friday, Nov 8 2013 

Dorotheus_of_GazaOne of the elders has said: “Before everything else humility of wisdom is needful for us, so that we may be ready to say to every word which we hear, forgive me; for by humility of wisdom all the arrows of the enemy and adversary are broken.”

[...] If without faith it is impossible to please God, and if by means of almsgiving and faith sins are cleansed, if by the fear of the Lord everyone is brought away from evil, and if the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord, and one who is laboring must be continent in everything, then why did the elder say before everything else that humility of wisdom is needful for us, setting aside everything else which is so needful?

The elder wishes to show us by this that neither the very fear of God, nor almsgiving, nor faith, nor continence, nor any other virtue can be perfected without the humility of wisdom.

This is why he says, “Before everything else, humility of wisdom is needful to us—so as to be ready to say to every word we hear forgive me; for by humility of wisdom are all the arrows of the adversary broken.”

And so you see, brethren, how great is the power of humility of wisdom; you see what force the word  forgive has.

But why is the devil called not only enemy, but also adversary? He is called enemy because he is the hater of mankind, the hater of good, and a slanderer; and he is called adversary because he strives to hinder every good deed.

If one should wish to pray, he opposes and hinders him by means of evil remembrances, by means of captivity of the mind and despondency.

If one wishes to give alms, he hinders by means of the love of money and stinginess. If one wishes to keep vigil, he hinders by means of laziness and carelessness, and in this way he opposes us in every deed when we wish to do something good.

This is why he is called not only enemy, but also adversary. But by humility of wisdom, all the weapons of the enemy and adversary are broken.

For in truth, great is humility of wisdom, and every one of the saints has travelled by this path; by labor they have made short their path, as the Psalmist says, Behold my lowliness and my toil, and forgive all my sins (Ps. 24:18); and I was brought low, and He saved me (Ps. 114:6).

And besides, it is humility alone that may conduct us into the Kingdom, as the elder Abba John has said—but only slowly.

Dorotheos of Gaza (505-565 or 620): Conference 2 – Concerning the Humility of Wisdom @ Pravoslavie.

Dorotheus of Gaza: Like Rotten Bread, Externally Good, Inwardly All Mouldy… Thursday, Sep 12 2013 

Dorotheus_of_GazaAgain there is the case of a man minding his own business, sitting at peace and quiet; and when a brother comes up and says an annoying word to him, he is put out by it.

And from the circumstances he thinks that he is justifiably angered, and he speaks against the one who troubled him, saying, “If he had not come and spoken to me and annoyed me I should not have been sinned.”

This is a diabolic delusion! Could it really be that the one who spoke a word to him put that passion into him? He only showed that it already existed in him; so that he could, if he chose, repent of it.

But the man referred to above is like rotten bread, externally good, but inwardly all mouldy, and when someone crushes it, its corruption is revealed.

He was sitting at peace, as we were saying, but he had this anger inside him and he did not know it. One word to him from the other and the corruption hidden inside him showed itself.

If, therefore, he wants to receive mercy, then let him repent, purify himself, and spiritually progress; let him see that he should rather thank that brother, who had been an occasion of spiritual help to him.

Temptations would no longer vanquish him in the same way, but in proportion to his advance in this custom he would find that they became easier to bear.

For to the degree that a soul advances it becomes stronger and has the power to bear anything that comes upon it.

In the same way, if your beast of burden is strong you put a heavy load on it and he carries it; if he does happen to stumble, he gets up quickly and doesn’t seem to notice his fall.

But if he is a sickly animal the same load weighs him down. If he falls down it takes a lot of help to get him up.

So it is with the soul: if it goes on sinning it becomes sickly. Sin makes a man sickly and he has become weak and unsound because of it, for sin weakens and undermines the strength of those who give themselves over to it.

Therefore the slightest thing that happens to him will weigh him down; but if a man is advancing all the time in goodness, what happens to him becomes less and less difficult to bear in proportion to the ground he has gained.

And so this habit of accusing ourselves will work out well for us and bring us peace and much profit, especially since nothing can happen to us apart from the providence of God.

Dorotheos of Gaza (505-565 or 620): Conference 7 – How We Must Accuse Ourselves And Not Our Neighbours @ Pravoslavie.

Dorotheus of Gaza: True Love Covers All Sins Tuesday, Jun 4 2013 

Dorotheus_of_GazaAs I said, if we have true love, that very love would cover all sins, as did the saints when they saw the shortcomings of men.

Were they blind and did not see sins? And who hated sin more than the saints?

But they did not hate the sinners all the same time, nor condemn them, nor turn away from them, but they suffered with them, admonished them, comforted them, gave them remedies as sickly members, and did all they could to save them.

Take a fisherman: when he casts his hook into the sea and a large fish takes the bait, he perceives first that the fish struggles violently and is full of fight, so he does not try to pull it in immediately by main force for the line would break and the catch would be lost in the end.

No, he rather plays out the line and, as he says, allows the fish to run freely, but when he feels the line slacken and the first struggles have calmed down, he takes up the slack line and begins, little by little, to draw him in.

So the holy fathers, by patience and love, draw the brother and do not spurn him nor become disgusted with him.

As a mother who has an unruly son does not hate him or turn away from him but adorns him with love, and everything she does, she does for his consolation; so do the saints always cover, adorn and help the sinner, so that with time he will correct himself, and not harm anyone else, and in doing so they themselves greatly advance towards the love of Christ.

What did the blessed Ammon do when those brothers, greatly disturbed, came to him and said, “Come and see, Father, There is a young woman in Brother X’s cell.”

What great love there was in that great soul. Knowing that the brother had hidden the woman in a large barrel, he went in sat down on it, and told the others to search the whole place.

And when they found nothing he said to them, “May God forgive you!” And thus did he put them to shame, edify them and bring them great benefit by teaching them not to readily believe accusations against their neighbor.

By his consideration for his brother he not only covered him after God but corrected him when the right moment came.

Having thrown the others out, he took his hand and said, “Take a thought for you soul, brother.” Immediately the brother was ashamed and came to compunction, so swiftly did the love and compassion of the elder work upon his soul.

Dorotheos of Gaza (505-565 or 620): Conference 6 – That We Should Not Judge Our Neighbour @ Pravoslavie.

Dorotheus of Gaza: “Love Thinks No Evil” Tuesday, May 28 2013 

Dorotheus_of_GazaA man can know nothing about the judgments of God. He alone is all-seeing and can judge the sins of all as He alone knows.

Truly it happens that a man may do some sin out of simplicity, but he may have something good about him which is more pleasing to God than his whole life; and you sit in judgment and burden your own soul?

And should it happen that he has fallen away, how do you know how much and how well he fought, how much blood he sweated before he did it?

Perhaps so little fault can be found in him that God can look on his action as if it were just, for God looks on his labor and all the struggle he had before he did it, and has pity on him.

And you know only his sin, then how God spared him; are you going to condemn him for it, and destroy your own soul?

And how do you know what tears he has shed about it before God? You may well know about the sin, but you do not know about the repentance.

[...] Those who want to be saved scrutinize not the shortcomings of their neighbor but always their own, and they make progress.

Such was the man who saw his brother doing wrong and sighed, saying, “Woe is me; him today—me tomorrow!” Do you see his caution?

[...] When he said “me tomorrow” he aroused fear of sinning, and by this he increased his caution about avoiding those sins which he was likely to commit….

He cast himself under his brother’s feet, saying, “He has repented for his sin but I do not always repent as I should, nor do I attain to repentance, for I have not the strength to repent.”

[...] And we wretches judge rashly, we loathe and despise if we see something, or hear something, or even only suspect something!

[...] We do the devil’s work and are not one bit concerned about it. What else has the devil to do but disturb and harm us? We are found to work with him for our own destruction and that of our neighbor, for a man who harms his own soul is working with, and helping, the demons.

The man who seeks to profit his soul is co-operating with the angels. How is it that we fall into this state unless it is because we have no true love?

If we had true love, then we would view our neighbor’s shortcomings with co-suffering and compassion, as it is said, Love shall cover the multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). Love thinketh no evil; covers everything and the rest (1 Cor. 13:5).

Dorotheos of Gaza (505-565 or 620): Conference 6 – That We Should Not Judge Our Neighbour @ Pravoslavie.

Dorotheus of Gaza: “He Led Captivity Captive” Sunday, May 5 2013 

Dorotheus_of_GazaThe power of the mystery of the death of Christ is this…: we through sin have lost in ourselves the image of God and therefore through the fall and sin have become mortal, as the Apostle has said (Eph. 2:1).

Therefore God Who created us in His Image, having had mercy on us, on His own creation and His own image, for our sake became man, and suffered death for all so as to raise us who have been killed into the life which we lost on account of our disobedience.

For He ascended on the Holy Cross and crucified sin – the sin for which we were banished from Paradise – and led captivity captive as it says in the Scripture (Ps. 67:18; Eph. 4:8).

What does this mean: “led captivity captive?” This means that after the transgression of Adam the enemy took us captive and held us in his power so that human souls which departed from the body went to hell, for Paradise was closed.

But when Christ ascended on the heights of the Holy and Life-giving Cross, then by His own Blood He delivered us from the captivity by which the enemy had taken us for our transgression.

That is, He snatched us from the hands of the enemy, and so to speak, recaptured us, conquering and overthrowing the one who had taken us captive. Wherefore it says in the Scripture that He “led captivity captive.”

Such is the power of the mystery; Christ died for us so that, as the Saint said, He might raise us up into life who have been killed.

And thus we have been delivered from hell by Christ’s love of mankind, and it is up to us whether we go to Paradise, for the enemy no longer compels us as he did before and does not keep us in slavery.

Only let us take care for ourselves O brethren, and preserve ourselves from sin in very deed. For many times before I have said to you that every sin which is fulfilled in deed again enslaves us to the enemy, inasmuch as we voluntarily throw ourselves down and enslave ourselves to him.

Is this not a shame and is this not a great misfortune if, after Christ has delivered us from hell by His own Blood and after we have heard all this, we should again go and throw ourselves into hell? Are we not in this case deserving of yet greater and more powerful torture?

May the Lover of mankind, God, have mercy on us and grant us heedfulness, so that we might understand all this and profit by it, that we might obtain at least a small portion of God’s mercy.

Dorotheos of Gaza (505-565 or 620):  Conference 21 – An Explanation of Certain Expressions of St Gregory the Theologian which are Sung together with the Troparia on Holy Pascha @ Pravoslavie.

Dorotheus of Gaza: By Compunction of Heart, Peace of Mind Returns to You Saturday, Mar 23 2013 

Dorotheus_of_GazaIf from the beginning man had humbled himself and listened to God and obeyed his command, there would have been no fall.

Again, after Adam had done wrong, God have him a chance to repent and be forgiven and yet he kept on being stiff-necked and unrepentant.

For God came to him and said, “Adam, where are you?” (Gen 3:12) instead of saying, “From what glory are you come to this? Are you not ashamed? Why did you sin? Why did you go astray?”—as if urging him sharply to say, “Forgive me!”

But there was no sign of humility. There was no change of heart but rather the contrary.

He replied, “the wife that you gave me”—mark you, not “my wife”—”deceived me”; “the wife that you gave me,” (Gen 3:13) as if to say, “this disaster you placed upon my head”.

So it is, my brethren, when a man has not the guts to accuse himself, he does not scruple to accuse God Himself.

Then God came to Eve and said to her, “Why did you not keep the command I gave you?” as if saying, “If you would only say, ‘Forgive me’, to humble your soul and be forgiven.”

And again, not a word! No “forgive me”. She only answered, “the Serpent deceived me!”—as if to say, if the serpent did wrong, what concern is that to me?

What are you doing, you wretches? Kneel in repentance, acknowledge your fault, take pity on your nakedness. But neither the one nor the other stooped to self-accusation, no trace of humility was found in either of them.

And now look and consider how this was only an anticipation of our own state! See how many and great the evils it has brought on us—this self-justification, this holding fast to our own will, this obstinacy in being our own guide.

All this was the product of that hateful arrogance towards God. Whereas the products of humility are self-accusation, distrust of our own sentiments, hatred of our own will.

By these one is made worthy of being redeemed, of having his human nature restored to its proper state, through the cleansing operation of Christ’s holy precepts.

Without humility it is impossible to obey the Commandments or at any time to go towards anything good. As Abba Mark says: without a contrite heart it is impossible to be free from wickedness or to acquire virtue.

Therefore, by compunction of heart you get a grip on the Commandments, are free from evil, gain virtue and, what is more, peace of mind returns to you.

Dorotheos of Gaza (505-565 or 620):  Conference on Renunciation @ Fr Luke Dysinger, OSB.

Dorotheus of Gaza: The Sickness of Sin and the Healing of God Friday, Feb 15 2013 

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In the beginning when God created man he set him in paradise (the divine holy scripture says [Gen. 2:20]) adorned with every virtue, and gave him a command not to eat of the tree in the middle of paradise.

He was provided for in paradise, in prayer and contemplation in the midst of honor and glory; healthy in his emotions and sense perceptions, and perfect in his nature, as he was created.

For, in the likeness of God did God make man, that is, immortal, having the power to act freely, and adorned with all the virtues.

When he disobeyed the command and ate of the tree that God commanded him not to eat, he was thrown out of paradise (Gen. 3) and fell from a state in accord with his nature to a state contrary to nature, i.e. a prey to sin, to ambition, to love of the pleasures of this life and the other passions; and he was mastered by them, and became a slave to them through his transgression.

Then, little by little evil increased and death reigned. There was no more piety, and everywhere was ignorance of God.

[...] The good God then gave the law as a help—for their conversion, for putting right what was evil, but they did not reform. He sent the prophets, but they were unable to do anything.

For evil prevailed as said Isaiah, no injury, no bruise, no wound was cauterized; no chance of soothing dressings; no oil, no bandaging of wounds (Isaiah 1:6), as much as to say that the evil was not in one member, or in one place, but in the whole body. It encompassed the whole soul and all its powers.

Everything was a slave to sin; everything was under the control of sin. As Jeremiah said, We would heal Babylon, but she would not be healed (Jer. 51:9).

All the same she is not healed; she has not been converted, she has not feared, she has not turned from her wickedness. In another place he says, they have not submitted to discipline (Jer. 2:30), that is, to correction and instruction. And in the psalm it says, All food did their soul abhor, and they drew nigh even unto the gates of death (Ps. 106:18).

Then finally the most good and man-loving God sent His Only Begotten Son; for God alone could heal such a disease.

Dorotheos of Gaza (505-565 or 620):  Conference on Renunciation @ Pravoslavie.

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