Black Catholic Saint Feast Day: St. Moses the Black (Aug 28) – Brief Personal Reflection on His Feast Day
Today the Church in the West (Latin Rite) celebrates the sainthood of a Black Catholic saint – St. Moses the Black, also called St. Moses the Ethiopian (330-405), a fourth century Desert Father and ascetic monk who lived a life of notable sanctity after a life of crime. He was once a robber in a gang 70 deep who later saw the light of Christ and turned his life over to God and His Church. His life afterwards was one of continual conversion and search for the inner peace that only Jesus can give. I’ve written about him before, and below is a brief personal reflection of mine on St. Moses and his life:
Reading his story, St. Moses, to me, is a very human Saint. Not that the others are not human or were not sinners like us during their lives – but he seems very relatable. He was a guy who spent his whole life after his conversion in a persistent struggle with overcoming the marks left on his soul from not only his past but also the particular way the affects of original sin shaped him.
He had quite the temper: “One is the nature of his life and conversion, notably that he struggled mightily and long with his violent nature, even as a monk. . .” (In Communion) How many of us have this problem? A number of us, I am sure! Take the incident I mentioned the previous post about him being verbally attacked and maligned. He dealt with it with an outer calm that we all picture the Saints having, a feat which can seem distant for us poor sinners who would be ready to knock some blocks off. But before we chalk it all off to St. Moses being another one of those holy ones that seem (at first) hard to relate to, afterwords he was asked if he felt as calm on the inside as he seemed on the outside. St. Moses simply responded no, he did not. On the outside he was cool, but on the inside he was STEAMED! I found this so relatable and down-to-earth. I am sure you guys do too. It epitomizes the struggle we all encounter in the spiritual life on the trek towards God. How many times have we tried to keep our cool and keep our temper down but while we seemed calm to everyone else we were utterly mad and frustrated?
But like every Saint, Moses shows us that with God’s grace we can overcome our passions, deny ourselves, and emulate the Savior: “. . .but eventually [St. Moses] became known for his non-violence.”
He was also quite humble and always remembered what he was saved from. Here is a story I didn’t include in the previous post:
“An aspect of Moses’ learned humility is captured in a story in The Sayings of the Desert Fathers and is found on the icon on our cover. The story comes in a few form sand recounts a time when Abba Moses was asked to come help settle a disputes involving an offense committed by another brother. St. Moses refused. Eventually, he was prodded to come, so he arrived with either a basket or a sack on his shoulder width a hole in it, trailing sand behind him. When asked what this meant, he replied, according to a different version, “My sins run out behind me and I do not see them, and today I am coming to judge the errors of another.” At his words, the brother was forgiven, restored, and the meeting dismissed.”
Just in that story alone, there is so much waiting to be found.
St. Moses the Black, pray for us on your feast day!
St. Moses the Black is a featured Black Catholic saint on my Black Catholic Saints section.