Saint Search
Saint Moses the Black
Saint Moses the Black

Saint Moses the Black

Feast Day
Aug 28, 2012
Africa, forgiveness, non-violence
<p>The monk who was canonized as St. Moses the Black was better known to his peers as &ldquo;Abba Moses.&rdquo;&nbsp; An Ethiopian, St. Moses the Black started out life as a slave in the household of an Egyptian governor.&nbsp; However, as a young boy he began stealing things from the home, a habit that eventually grew as the child grew.&nbsp; Instead of having the slave brought up on charges (and likely executed or physically maimed), St. Moses the Black was dismissed from the house.&nbsp;</p> <p>Alone in the world, an outlaw with a tendency to steal and a resume boasting the credentials of a dismissed former slave, St. Moses the Black joined a gang of bandits.&nbsp; A young man with a brawny and imposing physique, St. Moses was able to strike terror into the hearts of his victims and fellow raiders.&nbsp; Within no time he had become the leader of a small gang during which tales of infamous renown developed around the shrewd character.&nbsp; The legends depict a coldblooded brute who would willingly ruin honest men and their families.</p> <p>The conversion of St. Moses the Black is hidden from history.&nbsp; It seems likely that St. Moses the Black was fleeing from the law and subsequently took cover in the desert, only to stumble upon a community or hermitage of desert monks.&nbsp; Perhaps such an intense man would require a run-in with such an intense group of Christians in order to be converted.&nbsp; All that is known, however, is that suddenly St. Moses the Black was running a gang, and the next moment he was enrolled in a monastery of Petra in the desert of Skete.&nbsp;</p> <p>The stories of St. Moses the Black as a young monk detail the chronicles of a slowly reformed soul&mdash;demonstrating how a man prone to violence, with an enormous temper could gradually become one of the most serene, calm and austere of the desert fathers, well-respected for his peaceable advice and holy counsel. St. Moses once plunging into despair over his own lack of self-control during the early days in the monastery sought counsel from his abbot, St. Isidore.&nbsp; Upon hearing his complaint about his own spiritual progress, St. Isidore took St. Moses the Black to the rooftop of the house just before sunrise.&nbsp; As the sun broke on the horizon, St. Isidore said, &ldquo;See!&nbsp; The light only gradually drives away the darkness.&nbsp; So it is with the soul.&rdquo;</p> <p>Once St. Moses the Black did master his own soul, however, the Archbishop of Alexandria heard of his soul&rsquo;s journey toward the virtues and ordained him a priest.&nbsp; Eventually, St. Moses the Black was a respected counselor, teacher and confessor among the desert fathers and desert monks.&nbsp; During a raid by Berbers against many of the desert monasteries and hermitages in the early 5<sup>th</sup> Century, St. Moses the Black and seven other monks were slaughtered.&nbsp; The year was 405; St. Moses the Black was 75 years old.</p> <p><strong>Practical Take Away:</strong> <em>Living By the Sword</em></p> <p>St. Moses the Black&rsquo;s youthful days saw him not only committing violence against other peoples&rsquo; property, but also against their persons.&nbsp; This man&rsquo;s impressive strength enabled him to exercise great control over those people and things he set his sight upon.&nbsp; Such a man well-versed in physical violence and self-defense, one would imagine would have been well-positioned to set up defenses at his monastery to ward off the invading Berbers.&nbsp; However, the true Christian that he was, St. Moses showed the depth to which God&rsquo;s Grace had taken on his soul in his final counsel.&nbsp; The man of violence decades before was suddenly saying at the approach of danger the precise words of Christ: &ldquo;All that take the sword shall perish with the sword.&rdquo;&nbsp; In a world fraught with danger and offenses of all kinds, we must remember that with every opportunity to retaliate there is an opportunity to bear witness&mdash;to bear witness that our victory is already won, our victory is at hand.&nbsp; We need not take the sword, for we can assuredly offer the other cheek.&nbsp; Indeed, by Christ&rsquo;s own admission and example: &ldquo;Blessed are the peacemakers&hellip;&rdquo;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p>