Sin and Blame

“It is God, who is merciful and grants everyone what he needs, who is building him up when he gives him more than he needs; in doing so he shows the abundance of his love for men and teaches him to give thanks. When he does not grant him what he needs, he makes him compensate for the thing he needs through the working of his mind and teaches him patience. Because it is our duty to attend to the supernatural aspect of all things, whether we suffer good or evil from anyone, we ought to look at (all things) supernaturally and give thanks for everything that happens to us, always taking the blame ourselves and saying, as the Fathers used to say, ‘If anything good happens to us it is God’s providence; if any bad, it is because of our sins.’ And truly everything we suffer is caused by our sins.

For the holy men of old, whatever they suffered, they suffered for God’s name, either to demonstrate their virtue and so to help everyone else, or to win greater reward from God. But we miserable fellows, how can we say this? Every one of us goes on sinning and suffering what we deserve. We have left the straight road of blaming ourselves and taken the crooked road of blaming our neighbor. Every one of us is very careful, on every occasion, to throw the blame on his brother and to strike him down with its weight. Every one of us is negligent and keeps none of the Commandments, and we demand in return that our neighbor keep them all.” (Dorotheos of Gaza – 6th Century, Discourses and Sayings: Desert Humor and Humility, p 144)