St James the Ascetic

Saint James had such love for Christ, and so little regard for the things of this world, that he liquidated his entire estate and gave the proceeds to the poor without spending any of the money on himself. Later, he fell into a demonic temptation and became very proud. He would say, “Who knows better than I do, concerning my own salvation?” Following his own self will and personal preferences, he lived in solitude and undertook difficult struggles without first seeking the advice of wise and experienced ascetics.

Once a demon appeared to him in the guise of an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). He told James that Christ was very pleased by his labors, and would come that night to reward him. “Clean your cell,” he said, “and make ready by lighting the lamps and burning incense.”

The foolish James, in his delusion, accepted all of this without question. When the Antichrist came at midnight, James opened his door and fell down in worship before him. The devil struck him on the head, then vanished.

James awoke at dawn and went to visit a certain Elder to tell him what had happened. Before James could speak a single word, the Elder said, “You must leave this place, for you have been deceived by Satan.”

James was heartbroken and wept bitter tears. The Elder also advised him to go to a cenobitic monastery, which he did. There he fulfilled his obedience in the trapeza with great humility. Then for seven years he sat in his cell working at some handicraft, and fulfilling his Rule of prayer.

St James acquired the gift of discernment, learned the straight and narrow path of God, and became a great wonderworker. He completed the course of his life in peace.