The Monk James the Faster
Commemorated on March 4
The Monk James the Faster asceticised not far from the Phoenician city of Porphyrion. For fifteen years he lived in a cave devoting himself to monastic deeds, and he received a gift of wonderworking from the Lord. Under his influence many of the local inhabitants were converted to the Christian faith. News about the ascetic spread everywhere, and then so as not to fall into temptation, the monk went off to another place. Having found himself a new cave, he dwelt at it for thirty years. The devil set terrible traps for the ascetic. James healed a maiden from demonic-possession, but then fell into sin with her. Distraught over this sin, he repented what he had done, and for a long time he hid himself away in the wilderness, bereft of shelter and peace, tormented by the pricks of conscience, and he was on the point of forsaking the monastic life and returning back into the world. But the immeasurable mercy of God, which the sins of this world cannot prevail against and which desireth salvation for all mankind, would not permit the ruin of this soul, sincerely having toiled so many years for its Master. The Lord undid the diabolic intent to destroy the ascetic, and returned him through repentance onto the path of salvation. Wandering about the wilderness, James caught sight of a monastery, and entering it, he confessed his sin in front of the hegumen and the brethren. The hegumen urged him to remain with them, fearing that he would ultimately fall into despair. But James went off and again for a long time he wandered the wilderness. And finally the Omni-Beneficent Providence of God brought upon his path a wilderness-dweller, filled with grace and wisdom. Lifting the repentance from him, the wilderness-dweller suggested that James remain with him. But James would not remain with the elder, though encouraged and given hope by him, and he secluded himself in a cave and there for ten years offered repentance to God, weeping and wailing, and asking forgiveness for the sin committed. The Lord hearkened to the prayers of the penitent monk and returned unto him His mercy: James again found his gift of wonderworking. To his very death he remained in his cave, wherein also he was buried.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.