Dorotheos2One 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.

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