August 28, 2017

Additional Tales and Sayings of Abba Moses the Ethiopian in the 'Apophthegmata'

1. When a certain brother in Scete was going to the harvest, he went to Abba Moses the Ethiopian, and said unto him, “Father, tell me what I shall do; shall I go to the harvest?” and Abba Moses said unto him, “If I tell you, will you be persuaded to do as I say?” And the brother said unto him, “Yes, I will hearken unto you.” The old man said unto him, “If you will be persuaded by me, rise up, go, and release yourself from going to the harvest, and come unto me, and I will tell you what you shall do.” The brother therefore departed and obtained his release from his companions, as the old man had told him, and then he came to him. And the old man said unto him, “Go into your cell and keep Pentecost, and you shall eat dry bread and salt once a day, and after you have done this I will tell you something else to do later on.” And he went and did as the old man had told him, and then came to him again. Now when the old man saw that he was one who worked with his hands, he showed him the proper way to live in his cell; and the brother went to his cell, and fell on his face upon the ground, and for three whole days and nights he wept before God. And after these things, when his thoughts were saying unto him, “TYou are now an exalted person, and you have become a great man,” he used to contradict them, and set before his eyes his former shortcomings, and say, “Thus were all your offenses.” And again, when they used to say to him, “You have performed many things negligently,” he would say, “Nevertheless I do small services for God, and He shows His mercy upon me.” And when by such means as these the spirits had been overcome, they appeared unto him in the form of corporeal creatures, and said unto him, “We have been vanquished by you”; and he said unto them, “Why?” and they said unto him, “If we humble you, we are raised up by you to an exalted position, and if we exalt you we are accounted by you for humility.”

2. Abba Moses used to say, "Secret withdrawal from work makes the mind dark, but for a man to endure and persevere in his works makes light the mind in our Lord, and it strengthens and fortifies the soul.”

3. It was told of a brother who came to see Abba Arsenius at Scetis that, when he came to the church, he asked the clergy if he could visit Abba Arsenios. They said to him, 'Brother, have a little refreshment and then go and see him.' 'I shall not eat anything,' said he, 'till I have met him.' So, because Arsenios' cell was far away, they sent a brother with him. Having knocked on the door, they entered, greeted the old man and sat down without saying anything. Then the brother from the church said, 'I will leave you. Pray for me.' Now the visiting brother, not feeling at ease with the old man, said, 'I will come with you,' and they went away together. Then the visitor asked, 'Take me to Abba Moses, who used to be a robber.' When they arrived the Abba welcomed them joyfully and then took leave of them with delight. The brother who had brought the other one said to his companion, 'See, I have taken you to the foreigner and to the Egyptian, which of the two do you prefer?' 'As for me,' he replied, 'I prefer the Egyptian.' Now a Father who heard this prayed to God saying, 'Lord, explain this matter to me: for Thy name's sake the one flees from men, and the other, for Thy name's sake, receives them with open arms.' Then two large boats were shown to him on a river and he saw Abba Arsenios and the Spirit of God sailing in the one, in perfect peace; and in the other was Abba Moses with the angels of God, and they were all eating honey cakes.

4. Going to draw water one day, Abba Moses found Abba Zacharias praying beside the well and the Spirit of God rested above him.

5. One day Abba Moses said to brother Zacharias, 'Tell me what I ought to do?' At these words the latter threw himself on the ground at the old man's feet and said, 'Are you asking me, Father?' The old man said to him, 'Believe me, Zacharias, my son, I have seen the Holy Spirit descending upon you and since then I am constrained to ask you.' Then Zacharias drew his hood off his head put it under his feet and trampled on it, saying, 'The man who does not let himself be treated thus, cannot become a monk.'

6. Abba Poemen said that Abba Moses asked Abba Zacharias, who was at the point of death, 'What do you see?' He said, 'Is it not better to hold my peace, Father?' And he said, 'Yes, it is better to hold your peace, my child.' At the hour of his death, Abba Isidore who was sitting there looked towards heaven and said, 'Rejoice, Zacharias, my son, because the doors of the kingdom of heaven are opened to you.'

7. Abba Moses said to Abba Makarios at Scetis, 'I should like to live in quiet prayer and the brethren do not let me.' Abba Makarios said to him, 'I see that you are a sensitive man and incapable of sending a brother away. Well, if you want to live in peace, go to the interior desert, to Petra, and there you will be at peace.' And so he found peace.

8. Abba Poemen said, 'Since Abba Moses and the third generation in Scetis, the brothers do not make progress any more.'

9. Abba Moses asked Abba Silvanus, 'Can a man lay a new foundation every day?' The old man said, 'If he works hard, he can lay a new foundation at every moment.'