In the history of Orthodox monasticism of the 6th and 7th centuries there is the name of the venerable Dorotheus, who had a disciple named Dositheus.
Dositheus was assigned to Dorotheus for the purpose of spiritual instruction. Dositheus remained under his Abba’s guidance for about six years, and then he reposed, being 26 years of age.
The Lord revealed to one of the ascetics Dositheus’ fate and life after death. The ascetic was shown an assembly of elders and great fathers of monasticism, and the young Dositheus was among them. When the vision ended, the ascetic began asking Abba Dorotheus and the other monastics about how and in what Dositheus had spiritually labored, to merit such a blissful fate after death.
It transpired that Dositheus was not distinguished by any special abstention or by any great feats of fasting. There were times when he was late for services and exhibited other small daily deficiencies.
How then did Dositheus become worthy of being among the greatest fathers of monasticism?
It turned out that throughout his entire life at the monastery Dositheus never took offense at anyone, willingly performed all the obediences that were placed upon him, repented immediately after doing something he should not have done. In other words, he possessed the spirit of humility. Everything that he had to suffer through, he regarded as having been sent to him by the will of God.
Humility is the sign of obedience to God’s will! By subjecting himself to God’s will, man places himself in a correct position before the Creator of “all that is visible and invisible,” and thus strictly observes the so-called “hierarchy of values.”
In the Gospel story of the woman of Canaan we see a woman who also showed in deed that a humble acceptance of God’s will is a sure method of supplicating the heavens, for which her request was granted. The Lord Jesus Christ extols such a model of faith!
And if we do not receive a response to our request, we must understand that it is either because the time is not ripe for our request to be fulfilled, or because it goes against God’s Providence.
Thus, let us be attentive. Let us ponder instructive examples from the Holy Scriptures and the lives of venerable ascetics, and may the Lord help us apply them to our own lives.
Protopriest Igor Hrebinka