Dorotheos of Gaza: Discourses and Sayings. Chapter 12 On Fear of the Punishment to Come and the Need for One Desiring To Be Saved Never to be Negligent About His Own Salvation
- For example, I can say, Since I was eating with the guests and was constrained to be with them in order to put them at ease, my stomach was over-charged and a noxious humor descended to my feet and it was that which caused pain and suffering.
- But it is more accurate and helpful and better in every way to say that God knew that this was profitable to my soul and so it happened, for nothing that God does is not good, but everything is for the best.
One question most of us have is whether what we suffer is from God or not. Dorotheos encourages us to put our reliance 100% in the Lord that he has not brought us more than we can endure. Furthermore he says that we should not despair when we suffer painful things. Someone may say that they long for death to end their present troubles.
A man who is suffering and prays for a swifter exit from this world is like a man who begs a carpenter to come and break up the bed of a sick man. Evagrius
You may want to run away from the present troubles, but you do not realize that the trouble you propose to undergo is much worse than what you suffer here. Dorotheos
Dorotheos explains this teaching, “For through this body the soul gets away from its own passions and is comforted; it is fed, it drinks, sleeps, meets and associates with friends. When at last it goes out of the body it is alone with its own passions and, in short, it is tormented by them…incensed by the disturbance they cause and being torn to pieces by them so that it is unable to remember God.” (Page 184)
What we need is a little labor! Let us endure this labor that we may obtain mercy. If someone has some land but neglects it and leaves it untilled, he finds it produces thorns and thistles in proportion to his neglect. (Page 186). We have to work to weed the garden, roots and all!
It is no mean contest to overcome one’s bad habits, for custom, strengthened by enduring a long time, takes on the force of (second) nature. St. Basil.
Therefore, a man must combat, as I was saying, not only bad habits, but the unruly passions which cause them and are their roots. (Page 187) Furthermore, Dorotheos says that we must not only stop doing evil, but also work at what is goof, as it says in the psalm, “Turn away from evil and do good.” He also (if you are up for further reading) quotes Luke 11:24-27.
Every one of the vices comes from one of three things:
- Love of glory
- Love of money
- Love of pleasure
Virtue is God’s gift and is permanent to our souls. Virtue is a given but vice us not part of our nature made in the image and likeness of God. Each of the vices has its contrary virtue. Pride has humility, avarice has almsgiving; licentiousness, self-discipline; neglect, perseverance; anger ahs meekness; hated, love. In short I repeat, every vice has a contrary virtue.
We should expect temptation till our last breath. St. Anthony the Great
Labor and deep concern and prayer to God about everything is necessary that he may protect us and bring us to safety by his goodness to the glory of his name. Dorotheos of Gaza