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ANBA MOUSA THE ANCHORITE In the Habeeb Valley (Sheheet wilderness), there was an ascetic monk who was satisfied with the smallest of necessities. He used to make his clothes from palm tree leaves and luffa. He tended to his prayers withstanding the heat of the day and enduring the cold in winter. He used to eat once every few days. He never knew the days of the week and his knowledge of the moon was how he told time. God enlightened his eyes to discover a meadow that had olive and palm trees. He used to take what fell from them to meet his needs and he would drink from the rainfall. The beasts befriended him and they enjoyed his company. When it was time for him to pray, he would bless them with the sign of the cross and they would leave him. When there was a drought the beasts would gather and stand in front of him screaming with different voices as if they were asking him to pray for the rain to fall. Also if any of these beasts or birds were sick they would come to him and would be healed from there illness .

The saint led that way of life for thirty five years. When the evil enemy saw the saints' patience and his friendliness with the beasts in the wilderness he envied him and said; "How could he have conquered those things and he is human and I am from fire and light!! I must put him under my obedience and make him submit to my will." Right away he disguised himself as an elderly old monk with a white beard. He was clothed in goat skins, his head was uncovered and his hair fell on his shoulders. In his hand was a stick in which he used to lean on to walk. He walked little by little from one valley to another and didn't pray. Anba Mousa was contemplating, "Who is that old ascetic man that has many years of worshipping, asceticism and has a lot of patience? He must be righteous." Anba Mousa went closer to him but he pretended as if he wasn't able to see him because of his old age. The old man didn't answer him with even a word and pretended that he was sleeping that night. Then saint Anba Mousa prayed and when he mentioned the Master Jesus' name and blessed himself with the sign of the cross, the old man disappeared. Anba Mousa thought that God's love had hid him from his sight and whenever he talked to him he never answered and he stayed like that three days.

ON THE FOURTH NIGHT HE ANSWERED HIM. . . . Anba Mousa asked him, "What do you want my saintly father, you who satisfied God with your deeds? Blessed are you because of the place which is prepared for you." From the time the beasts had seen the old man they had run away. Anba Mousa wondered what was wrong. The old man began asking Anba Mousa about his name, for how long he had been in the wilderness, what he had been eating, drinking and wearing. Then he told him, "My son, God chose you to tell me about yourself so that I tell you my life story." Anba Mousa answered him, "My father I am from a district in Alexandria called Damsheesh and I was born there. My name is Mousa. When I was thirteen years old I walked toward the Sheheet wilderness and I lived with a monk in a small cell. He taught me monasticism and when I completed twenty years old I thought that this world vanishes and the eternity is what lasts, and no one can reach it except through Gods' obedience. Struggling to become closer to Him I left everything and I came to this wilderness. I have been here for many years and I haven't seen any person except you. Without a doubt you are from another wilderness. I noticed for the third day now that I haven't seen you praying. I would've liked to learn from you and have your blessing." The old man answered Anba Mossa saying, "I'll let you know my son that I was young and I had a lot of money, enjoying my life eating and drinking. I felt no mercy for the poor, and longed for adultery. I spent my money on this and I also stole money from others. I testified falsely against many people. A long time after that I saw that I was going to suffer in eternity, so I brought all my money and gave it away to the poor wishing for the eternity. I went to Barka, in Libya, where I lived 40 years up until today, and God accepted me and forgave my sins. When my time came closer I asked God to send someone to bury my body and pray for me because I don't know how to pray. I don't know the Corban, Holy Bread, and anything of the Christian rules. God forgave me because I gave my money and sought only Him. My home is in Taowona one of the five cities in Barka next to Alexandria. God showed me your life story and your place. So I came to you for I have only forty days before I die. I know the place where I'm going to be buried. Stand up my son and follow me, I will show it to you."

The saint thought he was being honest so he believed him but he didn't know that Satan, the enemy of goodness and humanity, was deceiving him. He stood up and followed him. While they were walking in the wilderness they saw a castle in the distance, like one of the kings' castles. When the old man and the saint came closer they saw that the castle was on a hill overlooking a beautiful meadow. He said to the saint, "My son my money is buried here. So bury my bones here and the money will become your inheritance. And an old man like me will come to you and he will bury your bones. After ten days I will pass away, but be careful from Satan the enemy of truth and justice . . . "

When the saint arrived at the doorway of the castle, he wondered "how did a castle end up in this lonely wilderness?" When he looked he saw a girl dressed in royal clothes. He backed up with fear. The old man told him "Take it easy my son. I'll let you know why I brought you to this place, because you are the one who is going to bury my body in this dust, but now listen to my sayings and beware of disobeying, otherwise you will lose all what you worked for in the heat and cold. This castle was built by my parents and I was raised here, and as I told you I had a lot of money and little mercy. I became ascetic, I had a women. But after I became ascetic she brought me a beautiful girl and told me that she was mine and then she passed away. After that I raised her up very well until she became as you see. I didn't find anyone as qualified as you to be her husband . . .

My son listen to me and don't disobey because Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob also were married and it wasn't a sin . ." Anba Mousa screamed out saying, "Woe to me! Woe to me! How can I do that?" When the saint saw the old man getting closer to his death he said to him "What should I do now when you die?" He answered him "I give you this castle and everything in it and this girl as a wife for you." The old man (Satan) pretended that he had died. The saint ran and carried his body to the place he showed him and buried him, but when he tried to enter the castle a windstorm came out from the castle forcing him back and then threw him down on his back and he fell motionless, as if he were dead in that instant. When he regained consciousness he found no trace of the castle but found himself in the wilderness. He became irritated and instantly felt hungry and asked for food. So he took from the grass he use to eat but it became very sour in his mouth and he couldn't eat it. The beasts that had been friends with him were afraid of him. The cold of the night bothered him and he became lost and afraid. He realized right then that the old man had been Satan the enemy of the human race.

He said, "Woe to me, I wish God would give me time so that I may repent." When hunger and thirst, heat and coldness overcame him he stood up and went back to the world. . . . Satan again met him pictured as an old man riding a donkey and asked him, "Where are you going?" He answered him, "I am going to the city of Alexandria." The old man replied, "I am too." He felt happy especially because he had gotten him for the second time, making him leave the wilderness so he wouldn't repent and cry for his sins to obtain God's mercy. Because God has mercy for all those who repent and returns from their sins. So he made him ride his donkey and fed him from his food and his water and hastened him out of the wilderness, where he was worshipping the Lord God. Then he brought him to a village near to Alexandria called Halla and told him, "This village is called 'El Mahoor El Owal' and it has a lot of grape vines, figs and carob. Also it's people love strangers." then he left him . . .

The saint went to that village. He found a well outside the village and he stood watching the people drinking from it. Satan appeared as a picture of a very beautiful woman dressed in old clothes and she carried a vessel which she wanted to fill from the well. She asked him about his story. He told her that he was from the wilderness and that he was hungry and thirsty. She told him, "Come to my house, I will feed you and let you spend the night." He followed her until they entered the house. She served him with food and drink and she wore nice clothes that looked like royal clothing. She came to him and found that he had eaten as much as he needed, she told him, "I see in you remnants of repentance and I don't doubt that you were ascetic." He answered her, "Yes, but Satan came to me in a picture of an old man and brought me out of the wilderness." When she asked him about that, he told her everything that had happened to him. She began to ease on him the idea of marriage and explained to him her life and that she was a descendent of kings. Her parents had passed away and she was lonely and had a lot of money in her city. When Mousa began to feel sympathetic, she told him, "There is only one thing left that you have to know. I am a Jewish woman from priests tribes. They donít know Jesus and they deny that he came to the world. . . And there is no way except if you convert to my religion.."

He said, "Iím not going to obey you in this and there is no way that Iím going to deny the name of my God Jesus Christ." She told him that he is not the only one that has denied Jesus and convinced him with a false vision about how they are numerous. She kept deceiving him until at last he agreed. Then she told him "I want you to cut your hair and your nails and take this clothes off your body and wear new clothes after washing with the water I'll let the priests bless for you." With this and more she kept deceiving him until she was certain that he believed in her. . .

She told him, "Letís go to my city where my money is. ." When half the day passed, they were in a very frightening wide wilderness wasteland full of lions. . . The saint got very thirsty and asked for water but didnít find any. . . She told him, "Remain in your place and I will climb this mountain to see if there is any water there and then I will call you to come. . . " He was standing at the foot of the mountain when she climbed up and began calling him, "Oh you weak saint. You who worked hard all his days and lived in the wilderness and now you are embracing Satan and I am one of his soldiers. You denied Jesus your God and my father Satan has authority over the human race and he is the one who didnít let the Jews believe in Him until this day. Woe to you! And happiness and gladness to me. . . I deceived you and I meant to get you away from adoration and your death in this desolate wilderness which you have no way to return from . . . " then she disappeared from him.

He looked around wondering which way to take and for water to drink. But he didnít find any and became bewildered about what happened to him through the bad enemy Satan's temptation. He returned to himself with repentance. He blamed himself saying to himself. . . "Woe to me because you left the way to life and you took the way to eternal Hades , Woe to me because I desired this world and left the eternity how great is that loss? . . Woe to me. Because you denied the name of your Lord. . . Did you forget that he is the one who created you and granted you a mind and ability to vocalize, the understanding to differentiate between what is useful and what is harmful?"

I contradicted my God and I followed my carnal desires. . . .I obeyed my bad thoughts and I asked for this fleeting world." He raised up his voice crying and said as the righteous Job;

"May the day perish on which I was born, And the night in which it was said, 'A male child is conceived.' May that day be darkness; May God above not seek it, Nor the light shine upon it. May darkness and the shadow of death claim it; May a cloud settle on it; May the blackness of the day terrify it. As for that night, may darkness seize it; May it not come into the number of the months. Oh, may the night be barren! May no joyful shout come into it! Job3:3 6-7

"Why didn't I think about that old man, the one who changed my route to life and how could I have walked with him. Woe to me for looking at that castle and that girl. . . Woe to me for leaving the wilderness by the deception of the archevil and for listening to the woman talk, the one who was of his soldiers and his deceptionÖ" Then he raised his hands up to heaven and cried and hit his forehead on the ground. He rolled in the dust and cried and begged God at length to forgive him and accept him. . .

And because of God's enormous mercy, He looked down from His heaven and heard his sighs and crying and the confession of his sins and also his desire for a repentant life. Because God accepts everyone who comes to Him with a repentant heart. . . So he sent his angel to console him and tell him, "After three days you will pass away and you will join your fathers. I will be sending you Samuel the saint who satisfied God with his good deeds to bury your body." Then the angel left.

While he was looking at the wilderness he saw in the distance a monk coming toward him. He went to him and met him. He knelt down on his feet and said to him, "My father, God's mercy sent you to me and now I'm sure he accepted me and forgave my sins. And they blessed each other and he told him everything up until this hour from the Satan's temptation and how he appeared to him in the castle and at the well and he didn't hide anything from him. . .

And he said to saint Anba Samuel, "Since I lived in the wilderness, and I had been there since the time of Anba Benjamin the Patriarch in the third year of his leadership, I didn't receive communion." Anba Samuel was a priest, he told him, "Get up my son and follow me." and he followed him and in a little while we came to a church built on the very finest, beyond imagination. Its door was open, but nobody was in it or around it. We entered and we prayed and I was, me Mousa the weak, in awe over all this. Anba Samuel asked me, "My son do you know this place?" "No, my father, I don't."

I, Samuel, answered him, "This place is ten days walking distance for those who are serious in their walking." Then a group came to this place and lit their lamps. They smoothed a good looking cover, they changed their clothes, and the priest began celebrating the liturgy. Then they received communion and we shared with them. Saint Mousa asked, "My father who are those people?" I answered, "Don't worry or think about anything except in God himself, but those people are the fathers of this wilderness and they are spread out in it. On this day every year they gather here and they raise up the Holy Corban (sacrifice) and receive communion. This church was built by the good king Aghabios, who was king of Alexandria and the five cities. He was a believer in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. All the people used to come to this church regularly and celebrate the liturgy but when the sins of the people increased this church disappeared from their eyes and became for the saints house and cemetery . . .

When I finished my service, I Samuel, the writer of this biography, Saint Mousa told me, "My father show me the place of those saints bones." I took him and we walked together to that place. I opened the door for him and we entered. I was looking to him and he knelt down putting his head down on the body of one of the saints to receive a blessing from him. When he delayed I entered and called him but he did not answer, so I was sure right away that he had passed away. I covered him and I took a blessing from him. I closed the door as it was and I wrote his biography for his remembrance. I am the weak Samuel, I wrote this biography by my hand writing in the Tomas in Greek and entrusted it to a faithful man traveling from El Wahaat 'Egypt '. I asked him to put it in St. Mark Church in Alexandria so the people could see what St. Mousa had suffered from the enemy Satan temptation and how he returned and repented and asked God for mercy. Because God never wastes his recompensation for whoever works under his obedience and refuses Satan's advice. I also wrote in it the church that I had mentioned and the directions to it so we don't stop the church memory.

Glory, honor, blessing, praise, ablation , due on to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit now and always and foreverÖ




This story was translated from arabic on March 1997 by Nashed Nashed

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