Above: Icon of St. Moses the Black
Image in the Public Domain
SAINT MOSES THE BLACK (330-405)
Roman Catholic Monk, Abbot, and Martyr
Also known as Saint Moses the Ethiopian and Saint Moses of Skete
St. Moses the Black became a changed man. Our saint, of Ethiopian ancestry, was originally a slave in the household of an Egyptian official. That official dismissed St. Moses for theft and attempted murder. Our saint joined a band of robbers and eventually became its leader. The group of criminals was notorious for its violence and thievery. One day St. Moses hid at the monastery at Skete. For the next few years, as he struggled with temptations, especially with regard to sexuality and violence, the abbot, St. Isidore, and the other monks treated St. Moses kindly and with spiritual discipline. Eventually our saint became a monk. In time he left Skete to found another monastery, of which he served as abbot. When St. Moses was 75 years old he received news that a group of Berber marauders was on the way. Some monks wanted to fight back, but St. Moses, who had rejected violence after having had his fill of it, argued for nonviolence. He and six monks remained behind and died; the other monks fled and survived.
The story of St. Moses the Black teaches certain spiritual lessons. One is the importance of recognizing the potential for a person to reform. What if the monks a Skete–St. Isidore, in particular–had behaved negatively toward him? The criminal might not have become a saint. Another lesson pertains to martyrdom, which is dying for one’s faith. St. Moses laid down his life for his friends, thereby acting according to the highest form of human love.
So, reader, I pose three questions to you:
- For whom would you be willing to die?
- Whom might God call you to influence for Christ?
- Are you willing to give someone the opportunity to repent and turn over a new leaf?
By the way, I sought more information about St. Isidore of Skete, and found none. No more information might be available. If so, that is fine, for I know what I need to know about him.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
MAY 12, 2016 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF DUNCAN MONTGOMERY GRAY, SR., EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MISSISSIPPI
THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN FRIEDRICH HASSE, GERMAN-BRITISH COMPOSER AND EDUCATOR
THE FEAST OF SAINTS GREGORY OF OSTIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT, CARDINAL, AND LEGATE; AND DOMINIC OF THE CAUSEWAY, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT
God of transforming power and transfiguring mercy:
Listen to the prayers of all who, like Abba Moses, cry to you:
“O God, whom we do not know, let us know you.”
Draw them and all of us who from unbelief to faith
and from violence into your peace, through the cross of Jesus our Savior;
who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
2 Chronicles 28:8-15
—Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 547