Saturday, June 27, 2009

Abba Moses the Ethiopian—stories from the Desert

A brother at Scetis committed a fault. A council was called to judge him, to which Abba Moses was invited, but he refused to go to it. So the priest sent another messenger to Moses, urging him to come, since all the brothers were waiting for him. So Moses took his oldest, worn-out, leaky basket. filled it with sand. placed it on his back, and went to join the council of judgment. When the brothers saw him arriving, they went out to great him, asking him why he had arrived so burdened. Abba Moses said, “My many sins run out behind me, and I do not even see them, and yet today I have come to judge the sins of someone else.” The brothers relented, called off the council, and forgave their erring brother.

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When Abba Moses was instructing one of his disciples, who was to become the great abba Poemen, he taught: “The monk must die to his neighbour and never judge him at all, in any way whatever. The monk must die to everything before leaving the body, in order not to harm anyone. If the monk does not think in his heart that he is a sinner, God will not hear him.” Young Poemen asked, “What does this mean, to think in his heart that he is a sinner?” Abba Moses answered him, “When a person is occupied with his own sins, he does not see the sins of his neighbour.”

[With thanks to the late solitary of Fr. Groppi’s Bridge, Milwaukie, and outstanding spiritual blogger, Karen Marie Knapp]

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