St. Dorotheus of Gaza icon

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Orthodox icon of Saint Dorotheus of Gaza (Dorotheos, Icon of 12 cent. Monastery of Doinysiou Mount Athos.

Commemorated August 13th.

"The Holy Abba Dorotheus was a disciple of St John the Prophet in the Palestinian monastery of Abba Seridus in the sixth century. In his youth he had zealously studied secular science. "When I sought worldly knowledge," wrote the abba, "it was very difficult at first. When I would come to take a book, I was like a man about to touch a wild beast. When I forced myself to study, then God helped me, and diligence became such a habit that I did not know what I ate, what I drank, whether I had slept, nor whether I was warm or not.

I was oblivious to all this while reading. I could not be dragged away by my friends for meals, nor would I even talk with them while I was absorbed in reading. When the philosopher let us go, I went home and washed, and ate whatever was prepared for me. After Vespers, I lit a lamp and continued reading until midnight." So absorbed was Abba Dorotheus in his studies at that time. He devoted himself to monastic activity with an even greater zeal.

Upon entering the monastery, he says in his tenth Instruction, he decided that his study of virtue ought to be more fervent than his occupation with secular science had been. For ten years Abba Dorotheus was cell-attendant for St John the Prophet (Feb. 6). He was happy to serve the Elder in this obedience, even kissing the door to his cell with the same feeling as another might bow down before the holy Cross.

Distressed that he was not fulfilling the word of St Paul that one must enter the Kingdom of Heaven through many tribulations (Acts 14:22), Abba Dorotheus revealed this thought to the Elder. St John replied, "Do not be sad, and do not allow this to distress you. You are in obedience to the Fathers, and this is a fitting delight to the carefree and calm." Besides the Fathers at the monastery of Abba Seridus, St Dorotheus visited and listened to the counsels of other great ascetics of his time, among whom was Abba Zosima.

After the death of St John the Prophet, when Abba Barsanuphius took upon himself complete silence, St Dorotheus left the monastery of Abba Seridus and founded another monastery, the monks of which he guided until his own death. Abba Dorotheus wrote 21 Discourses, several Letters, and 87 Questions with written Answers by Sts Barsanuphius the Great and John the Prophet.

In manuscript form are 30 Talks on Asceticism, and written counsels of Abba Zosima. The Discourses of Abba Dorotheus are preliminary books for entering upon the path of spiritual action. The simple advice, how to proceed in this or that instance, together with a most subtle analysis of thoughts and stirrings of soul provide guidance for anyone who resolves to read the works of Abba Dorotheus. Monks who begin to read this book, will never part from it throughout their life.The works of Abba Dorotheus are to be found in every monastery library and are constantly reprinted. Dorotheus died ca. 560.

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