Saint abba Moses the Ethiopian of Scete
Saint Shushanik Queen and Martyr (440-475)
Synaxis of the Saints of the Kiev Caves whose relics repose in the Far Cave of Venerable Theodosius
Commemorated on August 28/September 10
Venerable Moses the Black [the robber] (330–405) of Scete
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
Moses was an Ethiopian by birth and by profession, at first, a robber and leader of a band of robbers and, after that, a penitent and great ascetic. As the slave of a master, Moses escaped and joined the robbers. Because of his great physical strength and arrogance, the robbers chose him as their leader. Suddenly, Moses was overcome with pangs of conscience and repentance for the misdeeds, which he had committed. He left the group, entered a monastery and gave himself completely in obedience to his spiritual father and to the monastic rule. He benefited much from the teachings of Saints Macarius, Arsenius and Isidore. Later, he withdrew to solitude in a cell where he dedicated himself completely to physical labor, prayer, vigils and godly-thoughts. Tormented by the demon of fornication, Moses confessed to Isidore, his spiritual father, and from him, received counsel to fast even more and never to eat to full satisfaction. When even this did not help he, at the counsel of the elder, began to keep vigil at night and to pray standing; after that, he began the practice of bringing water to the elderly monks from a distant well all night long. After six years of terrible struggles, St. Isidore finally miraculously healed him of fornicating thoughts, fantasies and dreams brought about on him by demons. Moses was ordained a priest in old age. He founded his own monastery and had seventy-five disciples and lived in this life for seventy-five years. He foresaw his death and, one day, he told his disciples to flee for the barbarians were going to attack the monastery. When the disciples also urged him to flee with them, Moses said that he must die by violence for, at one time, he himself committed violence and, according to the words: “For all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword” (St. Matthew 26:52). He remained there with six brethren and the barbarians came and slew them. One of the brethren, hidden in the vicinity, beheld and saw seven shining wreaths as they descended upon the seven martyrs.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič for Old Calendar date August 28, and New Calendar date September 10.
A brother came to Scetis to visit Abba Moses and asked him for a word. The old man said to him, ‘Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.’
The monk must die to his neighbour and never judge him at all, in any way whatever.
“Affliction,” [Abba] Moses once said, “lasts for a short time, while peace is forever, by the grace of God the Word.”
Abba Moses said, ‘The man who flees and lives in solitude is like a bunch of grapes ripened by the sun, but he who remains amongst men is like an unripe grape.’
At Scetis Abba Moses used to say, ‘If we keep the commandments of our Fathers, I will answer for it on God’s behalf that the barbarians will not come here. But if we do not keep the commandments of God, this place will be devastated.’
It was said of Abba Moses at Scetis that when he had arranged to go to Petra, he grew tired in the course of the journey and said to himself, ‘How can I find the water I need there?’ Then
a voice said to him, ‘Go, and do not be anxious about anything.’ So he went. Some Fathers came to see him and he had only a small bottle of water. He used it all up in cooking lentils for them. The old man was worried, so he went in and came out of his cell, and he prayed to God, and a cloud of rain came to Petra and filled all the cisterns. After this, the visitors said to the old man, ‘Tell us why you went in and out.’ The old man said to them, I was arguing with
God, saying, “You brought me here and now I have no water for your servants.” This is why I was going in and out; I was going on at God till he sent us some water.’
One day, when the brethren were sitting beside him, he said to them, ‘Look, the barbarians are coming to Scetis today; get up and flee.’ They said to him, ‘Abba, won’t you flee too?’ He said to them, ‘As for me, I have been waiting for this day for many years, that the word of the Lord Christ may be fulfilled which says, “All who take the sword will perish by the sword.”’ (Mt 26:52). They said to him, ‘We will not flee either, but we will die with you.’ He said to them: ‘That is nothing to do with me; let everyone decide for himself whether he stops or not.’ Now there were seven brothers there and he said to them: ‘Look, the barbarians are drawing near to the door.’ Then they came in and slew them. But one fled and hid under the cover of a pile of rope and he saw seven crowns descending and crowning them.
Saint abba Moses the Ethiopian of Scete, ”Black in the face, shining in the soul.”
Apolytikion in the First Tone
Thou didst prove to be a citizen of the desert, an angel in the flesh, and a wonderworker, O Moses, our God-bearing Father. By fasting, vigil, and prayer thou didst obtain heavenly gifts, and thou healest the sick and the souls of them that have recourse to thee with faith. Glory to Him that hath given thee strength. Glory to Him that hath crowned thee. Glory to Him that worketh healings for all through thee.
Troparion – Tone 1
You abandoned the Egypt of the passions, O Father, Ascending the mount of the virtues with fervent faith, Taking the Cross of Christ upon your shoulders; And being glorified in godly works, You proved to be a model for monastics, O summit of the fathers. Pray unceasingly with them that our souls may find mercy!