St Dorotheus of Gaza: Are You Following the Doctor's Orders?

Feast of Sts Constantine and Helen, Equal to the Apostles

Dorotheus_Square_2.jpgSET YOUR MINDS, brothers, on looking into your affairs and do not neglect yourselves, since a small neglect may lead us into great danger. I have just paid a call on a brother and found him in a very weak state. At the time he received us I learned that he had had a fever for just seven days. It was then forty days after the fever had left him and he still found he had not regained his former strength. You see, brothers, how laborious and painful it is for someone to fall into an abnormal condition. A man usually despises a small disorder and he does not realize that if a small thing happens to injure his body, especially if it is rather weak, there is very great need both of labor and time before it is put right again. In this case the poor man had a temperature for only seven days; and see how many days he suffered without rest and without regaining his strength. So it is with the soul; a man commits a little sin and what a long time he goes on dripping blood before it is put right! For bodily weakness, which follows a disease, we find there are different causes: either the medicines are old and don’t work, or the doctor is inexperienced and tries one drug after another, or the patient is undisciplined and does not keep to what the doctor ordered. We cannot say the same about the soul, that the Doctor lacks experience or does not give the appropriate medicine. For Christ is the Doctor of souls, and he knows everything and applies the right remedy for every sickness. For example: for vainglory, the commandment about humility; for love of pleasure, temperance; for avarice, almsgiving. In short, each disease of the soul has a commandment which is its appropriate remedy, so that the Doctor is not inexperienced, nor again are the remedies old and impotent, for Christ’s commands never go stale. Therefore, there is no impediment to the soul’s healing except its own unruliness.

Let us attend to ourselves, brothers, let us learn self-control while we have time. Why do we neglect ourselves? Let us be doing something good all the time so that we may find help in the time of trial.

—St Dorotheus of Gaza, The Discourses

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