“For through certain small and worthless things our inordinate desires bind us again to the world without our realizing it”

Our Fathers, as I have said, having crucified the world to themselves, were earnest in the fight to crucify themselves to the world. We thought to crucify the world to ourselves when we left it and entered the monastery, but now we have no desire to crucify ourselves to the world. We have still the taste for it; we are passionately attached to its glories, to delicate food and clothing. Suppose there is a good tool to which we become attached. We allow that miserable tool to have the same effect on us as Abba Zosimos says, as if it were a hundred gold sovereigns. “We reckon to come out of the world and leave the affairs of the world”—and yet we come to the monastery and through trivial things we reveal and give way to, our desire for the things of this world; and we suffer this way through our own folly because, having given up great and honourable things, we satisfy our inordinate passions with things of very little value. Each one of us has given up something—perhaps great possessions, or perhaps very small—at any rate, each one has given up what he had to give. We come to the monastery and, as I said, we satisfy our own desires through trivial things which are worth nothing. We ought not to do this, for as we are set apart from the world and its affairs, so we ought to be set apart from the desire for material things, and to know what renunciation is and why we come to the monastery, to know what is the objective we have set ourselves, and so adjust our conduct to correspond with it, and throw ourselves into the contest as our Fathers did. …

But as we have given up the great things let us give up the little things; as we have renounced the world, so let us give up our passionate attachment to it. For through certain small and worthless things our inordinate desires bind us again to the world without our realizing it. If, therefore, we desire to be set free and to enjoy perfect freedom, let us learn to cut off our desires and so, with God’s help, in a little while, we shall make progress and arrive at a state of tranquility. For nothing helps men so much as to cut off self-will, for thereby a man prepares the way for nearly all the virtues.

St Dorotheos of Gaza


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