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June 5, 2015

Saint Dorotheos of Tyre as a Model for our Lives

St. Dorotheos of Tyre (Feast Day - June 5)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Dorotheos became Bishop of Tyre under Maximian in 303. When the great persecution of Diocletian broke out, upon request and pressure from his flock, he was persuaded to temporarily flee, so he went to Odyssopolis in Thrace. Later he returned to his headquarters in Tyre under Constantine the Great, to be near his rational flock that loved him very much, and he pastored them with sacrificial love. He particularly cared for the poor and the sick and supported in every way those who were weak in faith. As a lover of learning he progressed in studying and writing. At a certain period of his life when he was in Rome, he followed and recorded the events concerning the martyrdom of the Holy Martyrs Aristarchos, Pudis and Trophimos. He also wrote about the lives and martyrdoms of many other martyrs. Saint Dorotheos had a martyric end under Julian the Apostate, at the age of 107, in Eastern Thrace.

The sacred hymnographer, in the Dismissal Hymn composed for Saint Dorotheos, briefly describes his entire life and conduct as follows:

Dorotheos, wise hierarch of Christ, you received the light of wisdom as a gift from the Father of lights. You increased the talents given to you, blessed one, and in your old age contested beyond the bounds of nature. And now, O Hieromartyr, you even intercede for our souls.

The life and conduct of Saint Dorotheos gives us the opportunity to highlight the following:

First, "You increased the talents given to you, blessed one."

Saint Dorotheos had the talent, namely the gift of the love of learning and wisdom, but he worked hard and thereby multiplied it. He did not hide it under the earth like the lazy servant of the parable of Christ, but what is important is that he cultivated and increased it, because all people have gifts, but, alas, not everyone uses them and cultivates them. The utilization of our gifts, which we all have, is associated with our true love for God and humanity, along with diligence and the willingness to selflessly give.

One of our hymns chanted during Holy Week, specifically during Matins of Holy Tuesday, urges us to work spiritually for the cultivation and multiplication of our talent, namely the gift we received from God, and at the same time indicates the way this cultivation and multiplication will take place. It also refers to the spiritual fruit enjoyed by all those who work in the prescribed way. The hymn is as follows:

Come, you faithful, let us work zealously for the Master; for he distributes His wealth to His servants. Let each of us according to his ability, increase our talent of grace. Let one be adorned in wisdom through good works; let another celebrate a service of splendor; let another faithfully communicate the word to the ignorant; let another distribute his wealth to the poor. Thus, we increase what has been entrusted to us, and as faithful stewards of the grace given, we may be accounted worthy of our Master’s favor. Make us worthy, O Christ our God, in thy love for mankind.

As is known, in the parable of the talents, Christ describes the diligent as good workers, while the one who hid his talent below the earth He calls wicked and lazy. The first two are praised and are invited to enter into God's kingdom, while the latter are criticized and condemned.

Second, "and in your old age contested beyond the bounds of nature."

The sacred hymnographer calls the spiritual struggles of Saint Dorotheos supernatural, because the Saint was martyred in profound old age at 107 years old. This is very important because at that age physical strength leaves a person, and even spiritual strength is weakened, unless one has attained spiritual perfection, so that they are empowered by the uncreated Grace of the Triune God, who dwells in their entire existence, their soul and body. When a person is united with God, through the Grace of asceticism, prayer and the sacramental life, they are renewed within, refashioned as the eagle of his youth, according to the sacred Psalmist. That is, just as the outer man, namely the body, corrupts, so does the inner man, namely the soul, become renewed and the spiritual powers are reinforced and become stronger. That is why today, as in all eras, there are people who are young in age who have become aged, and are in no mood to work, physically or spiritually, and there are elders who are young at heart, with great internal strength and spiritual prowess, who thirst for life and have a great desire to create and offer. The latter do not feel frustration, insecurity and loneliness, because they have internal completeness. They don't feel like veterans of life, because they know very well from personal communion with the personal God of the Church, that life never ends. Earthly life has an ending, but not life which is eternal and without end. Once, a monk, who was in the last moments of his earthly life, asked how he now feels when faced with death, and he replied calmly: "Here with God and there with God, everywhere is good."

The struggle to increase the gift of God leads to spiritual perfection, creating internal completeness, spiritual prowess and peace of soul.

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "Ἱερομάρτυς Δωρόθεος Ἐπίσκοπος Τύρου", June 2008. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.