Saint Dositheus of Gaza (C) (Monk), Feast February 23

Died c. 530.

Dositheus, who had spent his youth in worldly pursuits and gross ignorance of spiritual matters, went to Jerusalem out of curiosity because he had heard it mentioned so often in discourse. In Jerusalem he became so strongly affected by the sight of a picture representing hell, and by the exposition given to him about it, that he immediately forsook the world and entered a monastery at Gaza.

The abbot Seridon gave him the monastic habit and commended him to the care of a monk named Dorotheus, an experienced director. Dorotheus understood the difficulty of extreme swings of fervor and left Dositheus to his own devices regarding food, but was careful to instill in him the necessity of perfect renunciation of his own will in all things great and small.

Dositheus went from eating six pounds of bread daily to eight ounces. Thus Dorotheus proceeded with his pupil in other monastic duties and by a constant and unreserved denial of his own will, and a perfect submission to his director, he surpassed in virtue the greatest fasters of the monastery. All his actions seemed to have nothing of choice, nothing of his own will in any circumstances; the will of God alone reigned in his heart.

At the end of five years he was entrusted with the care of the sick, an office he discharged with incomparable vigilance, charity, and sweetness. The sick were comforted by the very sight of him. Dositheus himself became sick with a lung disease (spitting up blood, possibly consumption / tuberculosis), but continued to the end to deny his own will and was extremely vigilant to prevent any of its suggestions taking place in his heart, unlike most of us who when sick think we should be allowed everything.

Dositheus's poor health prevented him from fasting, and moreover he did not work any miracles; these facts scandalized his fellow monks. Nevertheless, his abbot considered him a saint, since he had completely given up his own will. Unable to do anything but pray, he asked continually, and followed, in all his devotions, the directions of his master; and when he could no longer perform his long exercises of prayer, he declared this with his ordinary simplicity to Saint Dorotheus, who said to him, "Be not uneasy, only have Jesus Christ always present in your heart."

Dositheus begged Dorotheus to pray for an early release from his sufferings. Dorotheus answered, "Have a little patience. God's mercy is near." Soon after he said to him, "Depart in peace and appear in joy before the blessed Trinity, and pray for us." He died quietly in his sleep.

After Dositheus's death, Dorotheus declared that he had surpassed the rest in virtue without the practice of any extraordinary austerity.

(Chiefly from Benedictines, Husenbeth).