January 24, 2014

On Resentment (St. Dorotheos of Gaza)

By St. Dorotheos of Gaza

This is like a person with a wound. He puts a plaster on it and temporarily heals it through that and it forms a scar. That spot remains sensitive and if one throws a stone at him it is more easily struck than the rest of the body and immediately starts to bleed. This is what happened to the person as well. He was wounded and put on a plaster, which is repentance, and he temporarily healed the wound, as in the example, that is to say, anger. He also started to take care of the resentment through trying to obliterate any bad memory from his heart. This is the scar of the wound. However, he was not perfectly healed. He still retained the problem of resentment that is like the scar from which the wound is easily reopened if it receives a small blow. Therefore, he has to struggle to completely blot out the scar so that hair grows again, no disfigurement remains and you cannot discern where the wound was.

But how is it possible to achieve this? By praying for the person that upset him, with his whole heart, saying, "God help my brother and through his prayers, me." Thus, he prays fervently for his brother, which is evidence of sympathy and love, and, at the same time, he humbles himself by asking for help through his brother’s prayers. Where there is sympathy, love and humility how can anger, resentment or any other passion prevail? As Abba Zosimas said, "If the devil should use all the tools of his evil and all his devils, all his efforts become ineffectual and are destroyed through humility according to the commandment of Christ." Another saintly father said that, "The person that prays for his enemies has no resentment."

Work at this and understand what you hear, for unless you work you cannot receive all this through the word. Who desires to learn an act and does so through words alone? Certainly, he always begins by doing and undoing and thus, gradually, labouring and enduring he learns the art through the help of God who sees his intention and his labour. How then can we seek to learn the art of arts without undertaking it through deeds? How is this possible? Therefore, brethren, let us be attentive and work with diligence while we have time. May God grant us to remember and maintain what we hear so that it should not be for our damnation on the day of judgment.

To Him belong glory and dominion to the ages of ages. Amen.

From Practical Teaching on the Christian Life.