Dorotheos of Gaza: My Kind of Guy

I have just begun reading Dorotheos of Gaza: Discourses and Sayings by Eric P. Wheeler. Dorotheos is my kind of guy. We know that he was born in Antioch in 506 into a family of some means. His remarks are steeped in Scripture and a love of the Desert Fathers. He is earthy, real and accessible. He was surrounded with many heroes in the faith both before and after entering the monastic life. But this was true of many of the early desert monastics.

Dorotheos of Gaza

Why is Dorotheos my kind of guy? Wheeler’s very thorough introduction shows us a monk who was fond of his friends. Dorotheos will say of himself that, “he loved to be in their company.” Most of our Holy Fathers are not known for holding company and conversation. He was even given a blessing by the wise old man Barsanufius to remain in conversation, if he had no other pressing duties. More than that, we learn that Dorotheos had difficulty giving up his possessions completely, that he was talkative by nature, had difficulty returning to solitude and had to deal with other temptations of the flesh. Sound like anyone you know? Yea, me too.

When I am at peace and in recollection in my cell, I get a message to carry out some special duty. I go and do it, but when it is done I don’t go back to my cell, but stay around on one pretext or another, doing this and that, and I get tied up with things that can well go on without any need for my intervention. Then I get back to my cell in the evening, full of dryness and disgust with the things of the spirit, full of darkness and spiritual sloth and discouragement.

It appeals to me to know that there are real live human beings that struggle with the spiritual life but are faithful and continue to draw close to Christ. Any book that has “Desert Humor and Humility” on the cover is for me. Have you read this book? Do you know about Dorotheos of Gaza? I plan on writing more as I read more about him.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Dorotheos of Gaza: My Kind of Guy

  1. s-p

    He was one of the first “Desert Fathers” I read and after reading a lot of them, he’s still at the top of the list for the same reasons you said. Three thumbs up!

  2. Dear in Christ Fr James:
    I like him a lot too, for basically the *exact* reasons you describe. He is very accessible. If there is one Holy Father whom I have modeled my ministry after, I think it is him. I believe we should be willing to share with our flocks (not in gruesome detail mind you), our apprehension of the weakness of our flesh, so they know they have a co-struggler. I tink people gain confidence from this.
    Priest Seraphim Holland
    Redeeming the Time BLOG – http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

  3. Agree. He seems to speak a simple language makeing deep thoughts accessable. I especially like the chapter on love.
    Look forward to reading your summaries.

  4. Chris

    Got this book at St. Paisius. Will read it when I can. Thanks teach!

  5. As I said on Facebook, I don’t think I could ever fall to despair in the company of Dorotheos. His presentation of the challenges of a virtuous life in Christ never overwhelm me. Yet he does this without ever suggesting that I should expect it to be “easy”.

  6. amy

    This book sounds very interesting, do you know where can I find it? thanks in advance.

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