Abba Dorotheus of Gaza, shared by Father David Hovik

One of the great old men was at recreation with his disciples in a place where they’re were Cypress trees of different shapes and sizes, some large, some small. And he said to one of his disciples: Pull up that Cypress over there. It was a very small one and immediately the disciple pulled it up with one hand. Then the old man showed him another one, larger than the first, and he said pull up that one. Working it backwards and forwards with both hands he pulled it up. The old man showed him yet a larger one, and with much more trouble he pulled that up too. Then he showed him and even larger one and with much more labor, straining backwards and forwards and sweating profusely, he finally lifted that one too. Then the old man showed him still a larger one, but for all his energy and sweating he could not pull it up. And when the old man saw that he could not pull it up, he turned to another brother and told him to get up and help him, but even the two of them together could not pull it up. Then the old man said to all the brothers: So it is with our evil desires: insofar is they are small to start with, we can, if we want to, cut them off with ease. If we neglect them as mere trifles they harden, and the more they harden, the more labor is needed to get rid of them. But if they grow to any degree of maturity inside us, we shall no longer be able to remove them from ourselves no matter how hard we labor unless we have the help of the Saints interceding for us with God.


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