Saint Dorotheus

Okay, so my dad posted this quote on Facebook and then called me to ask me what I thought of it (that generation isn’t 100% confident in social media):

The reason for all disturbance, if we look to its roots, is that no one finds fault with himself. It does not matter how many virtues a man may have, even if they are beyond number and limit. If he has turned from the path of self-accusation, he will never find peace. He will always be troubled himself, or else he will be a source of trouble for others and all his labors will be wasted. St. Dorotheus, Abbot

I think sometimes people do this to bait me into writing.  It works.  It at least led me to some interesting reading.  St. Dorotheus apparently believed that no matter what happened to you negatively, in some way it was penance for a sin that you had committed that you had not determined through examination of conscience.  Kind of like what your Catholic grandmother used to call, “Offering it up to Jesus” when you stubbed your toe.  If your brother hits you with a stick for no apparent reason, that sin is on him and he has rewarded you with some penance for something you didn’t own up to you yet.  Probably a very honorable thing but I’m guessing their was a reason that Dorotheus was a hermit.  Rather than learning from his indiscretions or forgiving those who sinned against him, he just hid in a cave and examined what he had done to deserve this.  Or maybe the whole hermit thing was penance for his former life.

It sounds kind of like beaten-wife-syndrome.  “I know he loves me but he hurts me because I deserve it.”

I understand his perspective.  He decided to live a very simple, austere life to honor God.  His faith was way stronger than most.  This apparently is how you become a saint.  But lets take the part of the virtues that won’t matter unless you find peace.  Peace, another great concept, can’t argue that finding peace within yourself will make you a better human being.  Virtues also make you a better human being.  In my thinking even one virtue makes you somewhat valuable.  To deny that virtue because of an offsetting sin seems foolish.  I’m sure that we can all think of someone who is virtuous in many parts of his life (or even one) and not so virtuous in others.  I think what is really important is that we don’t pretend to be virtuous when we aren’t.  We can see that on TV everyday.  Here’s a good example:  A politician who is very powerfully in favor of human rights, a war we are losing in your community and all over the world, but is a known womanizer.  Womanizer’s suck.  We can all agree on that.  Human’s that starve on a daily basis because of greed, can’t afford a proper home for their families, die because of lack of proper health care, people who are enslaved, traded, or abused because of their sex, color, nationality;  that really sucks!  So which virtue is better chastity or charity.  And if you lust can you not be charitable?

One other belief of self-accusation is that people should feel guilty for what they have not done.  Steve Prefontaine, American miler, once said, “To do anything but your best is to sacrifice the gift.”  That is a belief I can hang my hat on.  It is also a struggle for most peopl and maybe that is where Dorotheus was going.  First off do we all ever really know what our gift is? Some people obviously do and they work at it every day.  And secondly will we ever really now if we have exhausted our gift?  Will we ever know if we reached our potential?  According to Dorotheus I guess we will because we won’t find heaven unless we do.