Dorotheus of Gaza: God, who is so merciful, does not disdain the least of our sorrows Saturday, Feb 13 2016 

Dorotheos2Whatever is God’s providence is completely good and serves for the profit of the soul, for everything that God does with us He does for our benefit, for He love us and has mercy on us.

And we should…give thanks always for all things (Eph. 5:20, 1 Thess. 5:18) to His goodness and never become sad nor grow fainthearted over what happens to us, but rather receive everything that happens to us without disturbance, with humility of wisdom and with hope in God, believing…that everything that God does with us He does in His goodness, out of love for us.

He does it for the good, and it could not be good in any other way than this.

[…] If one has a friend who he is convinced loves him, then if he should suffer something from this friend, even something very difficult, he reckons that it was done out of love, and never does he believe that his friend had wished to do him harm.

All the more then should we attribute this to God, Who created us and brought us out of non-being into being. He became man for our sake and died for us, He does everything to us out of His goodness and love for us.

As for the friend, one thinks, “He has done this out of love and pity for me, but he does not have sufficient understanding to arrange things well concerning me, and therefore it happens that he has injured me without wishing to do so.”

However, we cannot say this about God, for He is the source of wisdom, knows everything that is profitable for us, and arranges everything concerning us, even the least insignificant.

Again one may say of a friend that although he loves and pities us and has sufficient understanding to arrange things concerning us, nonetheless he has not the strength to help us with this matter in which he thinks to bring benefit to us.

But this cannot be said about God either, for to Him all is possible and for Him there is nothing impossible. And thus we know of God that He loves and pities His creation, that He is the source of wisdom and knows how to arrange everything concerning us, and that there is nothing impossible for Him, but everything serves His will.

We should likewise know that everything that He does He does for our benefit, and we should accept this in accordance with what has been said above, with thanksgiving as from a Benefactor and a good Master, even though what occurs might be painful.

For everything happens in accordance with righteous judgment, and God who is so merciful does not disdain the least of our sorrows.

Dorotheos of Gaza (505-565 or 620): Conference 13 – That one must bear temptation with thanksgiving and without disturbance @ Pravoslavie.

Dorotheus of Gaza: No one can say “I am poor and I have nothing to give as alms” Tuesday, Jun 30 2015 

Dorotheos2No one can say, “I am poor and I have nothing to give as alms.”

For if you cannot give as much as those rich men who put their gifts in the treasury, then give the two pennies like that poor widow and God will receive this from you as more than the gifts of those rich men (cf. Mk. 12:42, Lk. 21:2).

And if you do not have even this much you have strength and you can show mercy to your infirm brother by serving him.

You cannot do even this? Then you can comfort you brother by a word. Show him mercy by words, and you will hear what has been said, Lo, is not a word better than a gift? (Sir. 18:17).

And if you cannot help him even by words, then, when your brother becomes angry at you for something you can show him mercy and endure him during the time of his disturbance, seeing that he is tempted by the common enemy, and instead of speaking a word to him that disturbs him all the more, you can remain silent.

By this you will show him mercy, delivering his soul from the enemy. And when your brother sins before you, have mercy on him and forgive him his sin, so that you also might receive forgiveness from God; for it is said, forgive, and ye shall be forgiven (Luke 6:37).

You can show your mercy for the soul of your brother by forgiving him for his sin against you, for God gave us the authority, if we wish, to forgive each other the transgressions which transpire amongst us.

In this way, not having any means to show mercy to his body, you have had mercy on his soul. What mercy or alms could be greater than mercy toward his soul? As the soul is more precious than the body, so mercy shown to the soul is greater than that shown to the body.

Therefore no one can say, “I cannot give alms or show mercy,” for everyone can show mercy according to his strength and the disposition of his soul.

[…] We have said that one who performs virtue sensibly is a skilled artisan who builds his house securely. The Gospel also says (cf. Mt. 7:24, 25), that a wise man builds his dwelling upon a rock, and no opposing force can cause it to fall.

May God the Lover of man grant us to hear and to fulfill what we hear, so that these words will not serve for our judgment on the Day of Judgment. For to Him belongs glory unto the ages. Amen.

Dorotheos of Gaza (505-565 or 620): Conference 14 – On the Building and Construction of the Soul’s House of Virtues @ Pravoslavie.

Dorotheus of Gaza: Ascending from one step to the next you will attain with God’s help even the top of the ladder Monday, Jun 15 2015 

Dorotheos2Scripture says, Love thy neighbor as thyself (Lev. 19:18, Matt. 19:19).

Pay no attention to how short you fall of this virtue, lest you become fearful and say, “How can I love my neighbor as myself?

Can I be concerned for his sorrows as my own, and especially for those secret ones in his heart, which I do not see and do not know?”

Do not entertain such thoughts, do not think that the virtue exceeds your strength and is impossible to fulfill, but only place a beginning with hope in God, show Him your goodwill and your effort, and you will see the help He will give you to perform the virtue.

Imagine two ladders, one leading above to Heaven and the other going down to hell, and you stand on the earth between these two ladders.

Do not think and do not say, “How can I fly up from the earth and be suddenly in the heights of Heaven—that is, at the top of the ladder?” This is impossible and God does not demand this from you.

However, be careful at least not to go down.

Do not do evil to your neighbor, do not offend him, do not slander him, do not speak evil of him, do not belittle him, do not reproach him, and in this way you will begin with time, little by little, to do good also to your brother, consoling him by words, being compassionate to him or giving him what he needs.

Thus, ascending from one step to the next you will attain with God’s help even the top of the ladder.

For little by little, helping your neighbor, you will ascend to the stage of desiring his profit as your own, and his success as your own.

This is what it means to love your neighbor as yourself.

If we seek we will find, and if we ask God He will enlighten us; for in the Holy Gospel it is said, Ask and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you (Matt. 7:7).

It is said, “Ask,” so that we might call upon God in prayer; and “seek” means that we should experience how virtue itself comes to us, what brings it, and what we should do in order to acquire it; therefore try to know what is meant also by “seek and ye shall find.”

“Knock” means to fulfill the commandments, for everyone who knocks does so with his hands—and hands signify activity. So, we should not only ask, but seek and act, striving, as the Apostle said, that ye may abound unto every good work (II Cor. 9:8, II Tim. 2:21).

Dorotheos of Gaza (505-565 or 620): Conference 14 – On the Building and Construction of the Soul’s House of Virtues @ Pravoslavie.

Dorotheus of Gaza: “This is the day of Resurrection! Let us offer ourselves as a sacrifice” Wednesday, May 14 2014 

Dorotheos2In 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 

Dorotheos2Continued 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 

Dorotheos2When 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 

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.

Dorotheus of Gaza: Like rotten bread, externally good, inwardly all mouldy… Thursday, Sep 12 2013 

Dorotheos2Again 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 

Dorotheos2As 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 

Dorotheos2A 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.

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