A Reflection on a Saying of a Desert Christian: Abba Isidoros

“While still a neophyte in monastic life, Moses the Black (the Ethiopian) was warring against carnal desire. So he went, in a state of turbulence, to confess to Abba Isidoros.

“The elder listened to him sympathetically and, when he had given him words of appropriate counsel, told him to return to his cell. However, inasmuch as Abba Moses was still hesitant, for fear of the flame of evil desires rekindling during his return, Abba Isidoros took him by the hand and led him to a small roof atop his cell.

“Look here,” he told him, directing him towards the West. Thereupon Moses saw an entire army of wicked spirits with drawn bows, ready for warfare, and was terrified.

“Look towards the East now,” the elder told him once more. Myriads of angels in military formation were standing ready to confront the enemy.

“All of these,” Abba Isidoros told him, “are assigned by God to help the struggler. Do you see how our defenders are many more and incomparably stronger than our enemies?”

“Moses thanked God with his heart for this revelation and, taking courage, returned to his cell to continue his struggle.”

Christians in my country seldom, as far as I can tell, resist their carnal desires.  Although I do know there is an attempt among Evangelicals at least to get young women to take purity pledges and wear promise rings that they will stay virgins until after they are married. I have not heard of a similar pledge for young men.  Oh, that pesky double standard.

Instead of focusing on carnal desires, I see a wider application for this Saying.  It is pretty simple.  In our struggles to be holy, we have angelic help, should we choose to avail ourselves of it.


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