Monday, August 28, 2017

Saint Moses the Ethiopian According to Sozomen


By Sozomen

Ecclesiastical History (Bk. 4, Ch. 29)

Moses was originally a slave, but was driven from his master's house on account of his immorality. He joined some robbers, and became leader of the band. After having perpetrated many evil deeds and dared some murders, by some sudden conversion he embraced the monastic life, and attained the highest point of philosophy.

As the healthful and vigorous habit of body which had been induced by his former avocations acted as a stimulus to his imagination and excited a desire for pleasure, he resorted to every possible means of macerating his body; thus, he subsisted on a little bread without cooked food, subjected himself to severe labor, and prayed fifty times daily; he prayed standing, without bending his knees or closing his eyes in sleep. He sometimes went during the night to the cells of the monks and secretly filled their pitchers with water, and this was very laborious, for he had sometimes to go ten, sometimes twenty, and sometimes thirty and more, stadia in quest of water. Notwithstanding all his efforts to macerate his body, it was long before he could subdue his natural vigor of constitution.

It is reported that robbers once broke into the dwelling where he was practicing philosophy; he seized and bound them, threw the four men across his shoulders, and bore them to the church, that the monks who were there assembled might deal with them as they thought fit, for he did not consider himself authorized to punish any one.

It is said that so sudden a conversion from vice to virtue was never before witnessed, nor such rapid attainments in monastical philosophy. Hence God rendered him an object of dread to the demons, and he was ordained presbyter over the monks at Scetis. After a life spent in this manner, he died at the age of seventy-five, leaving behind him numerous eminent disciples.


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