Franciscan Priest (1394-1476)
James was born at Monteprandone in the year 1394. He pursued his studies at Perugia, giving particular attention to law. Enrolled among the Friars Minor, he studied theology, and after his ordination passed the remainder of his life preaching. He traversed almost the whole of Italy and Europe, popularizing devotion to the most holy name of Jesus and carrying out missions for the conversion of heretics. He died at Naples in the year 1476. He was canonized by Pope Benedict XIII in 1726.
From a Sermon by Saint James of the Marches
Preaching the Word of God causes all virtues to spring forth
Some seed fell upon good soil and grew and yielded fruit a hundredfold. That is, the hearts of the devout are nourished by the fullness of the Holy Spirit when the word of God sows in them sorrow for their sins, the violet of humility, the rose of charity, the lily of chastity, divine fear and love, the desire of eternal goods and the making small account of earthly ones, in ﬁne, the beauty of all the virtues.
O gracious and most holy word of God! You enlighten the hearts of the faithful, you refresh the hungry, you console the afflicted, you enrich the mind with every good and make all virtues spring up; you snatch souls from the jaws of the devil, you justify the wicked and make heavenly those who were earthly minded.
You are holy? It is due to preaching. Where do you lament your sins? At a sermon. Where do you forgive an injury? At a sermon. Where have you put away your evil will? At a sermon. Where do you acquire patience and find again your lost soul? At a sermon. Where do you learn to know God? At a sermon. Where are evil lives changed into good men? At a sermon. Where are innumerable evils taken away ‐ murders, fornications, treachery, hatred, and suchlike? By preaching. What keeps people in the faith? Preaching. Because those who do not hear the word of God are like beasts. What crushes errors and heresies? Preaching. What did Christ command the apostles? To preach. What sows graces and virtues in souls? Preaching; because it is not you who speak.
O most holy preaching, precious beyond all treasures! Blessed are those who hear you gladly, since you are a great light, enlightening the whole world. Bernard says: “The word of God must be heard graciously, received devoutly, and whatever pertains to the salvation of souls must be preserved with care. And it must be heard not as the word of man, but as it is in truth, the word of God, whether it consoles or warns or rebukes.” And as a careless sower wastes his seed on this side and on that, so is the negligent bearer of God’s word. Whence says Augustine: “Again I ask you, my brothers and sisters, tell me: which appears to you the greater, the body of Christ, or the word of God? If you are willing to reply, you ought to say that the word of God is not less than the body Of Christ. He who hears the word of God negligently, is no less guilty than he who through his own carelessness would allow the body of Christ to fall to the ground.”
you made blessed James an outstanding preacher
to recall sinners to the path of virtue.
Mercifully grant that by his intercession
we may be cleansed from all sin
and attain to eternal life.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.