March 4

From the Prologue

He lived in the sixth century. He was so perfected in pleasing God that Jamescured the most gravely ill through his prayers. But the enemy of mankind lured him into great temptations. At one time, an immoral woman was sent to him by some scoffers. She misrepresented herself to James, pretending to be crying yet all the while luring him into sin. Seeing that he was going to yield to sin, James placed his left hand into the fire and held it there for some time until it was scorched. Seeing this, the woman was filled with fear and terror, repented and amended her life. On another occasion, James did not flee from his temptation, but rather he succumbs to a maiden, who was brought as alunatic by her parents to be cured of her insanity. He, indeed, healed her and after that, sinned with her. Then in order to conceal his sin he killed her and threw her into a river. As is common, the steps from adultery to murder are not too distant. James lived for ten years after that as a penitent in an open grave. At thattime there was a great drought which caused both people and live-stock to suffer. As a result of his prayers, rain fell; James knew that God had forgiven him. Here is an example, similar to that of David, of how twisted is the demon of evil; how by God's permission, the greatest spiritual giants can be overthrown, and through sincere and contrite penance, God, according to His mercy, forgives even the greatest sins and does not punish those when they punish themselves.



Who from the greater height falls, is injured more,

To the heights whoever is lifted, let him cautiously shield himself.

The holy apostle writes: "Whoever thinks that he is standing secure

should take care not to fall," (*) let him fear God.

James the Faster, according to the height of his soul, a giant was he,

But, he, from the heights slipped, and the devil toppled him;

One sin, to the other hastens, adultery rushes to murder,

James the Faster, himself, punishes, and God comforted him.

All virtues, one sin, is able to erode;

One hole in the granary, all the wheat pours out.

A house filled with fragrances, one handful of filth

Empties it of redolence and fills it with stench.

One-hundred victories nor one-hundred celebrations do not help

When in the final battle, the head is lost.

The spiritual life is a struggle against the hordes of the devil,

In this battle, from the beginning the proud are defeated.

Whoever invokes the Name of God with profound humility

That one, in battle, will be protected by God's mercy.

(*) I Corinthians 10:12

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St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas