Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

6/3/2016 (2 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Even as a pagan, Justin was impressed with the way of life of the Christians

On the Feast of Justin, Martyr, we need new apologists, defenders of the faith, who are unafraid to contend in the marketplace of ideas for the heart and soul of the people of our age. We live in a new missionary age. The Third Millennium of the Christian Church calls us, in the midst of a Western Culture which resembles a new Rome, to defend the faith like Justin did.  May the Holy Spirit inspire men and women who, like Justin and his companions, possess the heroic courage this mission will require. 

We are living in a new missionary age

We are living in a new missionary age

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/3/2016 (2 months ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Martyr, new Evangelization, Missionary age, Pope Francis, Christian persecution, Missionary, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - We are living in a Pre-Christian age. I long ago stopped participating in the ongoing debate about whether this is a post-Christian or post-modernist age. In fact, I think it is a waste of time.

We would all use our energies and time better if we just accepted the obvious, this is a new pagan age. However, we cannot stop there. Our task is to do what the early Christians did, proclaim in word and deed the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and transform it from within. Even if it means the shedding of our blood. If it does, God will give us the grace. 

On June 1 in the Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar we commemorated the Memorial of a great defender of the Christian faith, Justin, Martyr. He was born of pagan parents in Samaria at the beginning of the second century. Like many young men, he spent his early years searching for the meaning of life.

Justin turned to the Greek philosophers of the age, studying Plato and Socrates. He became a student in the schools of the philosophers, seeking truth in their systems of thought. However, his hunger for truth was not satisfied and his search for truth continued, leading him to Jesus Christ and His Church. One of the stories told of his conversion has the young Justin walking by the sea and meeting an old man who asked him what he was looking for. Justin replied "The meaning of life". The old man was a Christian. As the story goes, he introduced Justin to the claims of the Gospel. Whether an accurate account or not, it points to the uniqueness of Justin's contribution to the early spread of Christianity.

Even as a pagan he was impressed with the way of life of the Christians. Their fearlessness in the face of opposition from an increasingly hostile Roman empire inspired him to examine the source of their courage. He soon became one of the greatest examples of that courage when he joined their number as a member of the Church. While some Christians in Justin's day were hesitant about engaging the philosophers in debate or even speaking of the Christian Faith within a philosophical framework, Justin became one of the first "apologists" of the Church. He openly addressed the emperor, the Senate, and the influential teachers of the philosophical schools of the day, explaining the truths of the faith. He is the patron saint of philosophers.

He even continued to wear his philosopher's gown after his Baptism as a sign that he viewed himself as a teacher of the only true philosophy, Christianity. His writings demonstrate how we are called to engage our own age with the truth revealed in its fullness in Jesus Christ and His Church. We need not fear the systems of thought which have captivated the modern pagans of our age or the threats of the contemporary dictatorship of relativism.   Justin opened a school in Rome where public debates were regularly held. Soon, his persuasive teaching and growing appeal to the seekers of that day began to disturb the authorities. It also raised the ire of the Cynics, one of those philosophical schools whose own claims were threatened.

It may have been his debate with a Cynic philosopher which sealed his fate and helped to secure him the name "Martyr". Justin won the debate and angered his interlocutors. He was soon denounced for being a Christian and arrested by the authorities, along with several of his companions. The Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours on the Feast contains the following historic account of his Martyrdom:
 
***** I have accepted the true doctrines of the Christians: From the Acts of the martyrdom of Saint Justin and his companion saints The saints were seized and brought before the prefect of Rome, whose name was Rusticus. As they stood before the judgment seat, Rusticus the prefect said to Justin: "Above all, have faith in the gods and obey the emperors." Justin said: "We cannot be accused or condemned for obeying the commands of our Savior, Jesus Christ."
 
Rusticus said: "What system of teaching do you profess?" Justin said: "I have tried to learn about every system, but I have accepted the true doctrines of the Christians, though these are not approved by those who are held fast by error."
 
The prefect Rusticus said: "Are those doctrines approved by you, wretch that you are?" Justin said: "Yes, for I follow them with their correct teaching."
 
The prefect Rusticus said: "What sort of teaching is that?" Justin said: "Worship the God of the Christians. We hold him to be from the beginning the one creator and maker of the whole creation, of things seen and things unseen. We worship also the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He was foretold by the prophets as the future herald of salvation for the human race and the teacher of distinguished disciples. "For myself, since I am a human being, I consider that what I say is insignificant in comparison with his infinite godhead. I acknowledge the existence of a prophetic power, for the one I have just spoken of as the Son of God was the subject of prophecy. I know that the prophets were inspired from above when they spoke of his coming among men."
 
Rusticus said: "You are a Christian, then?" Justin said: "Yes, I am a Christian."
 
The prefect said to Justin: "You are called a learned man and think that you know what is true teaching. Listen: if you were scourged and beheaded, are you convinced that you would go up to heaven?" Justin said: "I hope that I shall enter God's house if I suffer that way. For I know that God's favor is stored up until the end of the whole world for all who have lived good lives."
 
The prefect Rusticus said: "Do you have an idea that you will go up to heaven to receive some suitable rewards?" Justin said: "It is not an idea that I have; it is something I know well and hold to be most certain."
 
The prefect Rusticus said: "Now let us come to the point at issue, which is necessary and urgent. Gather round then and with one accord offer sacrifice to the gods." Justin said: "No one who is right thinking stoops from true worship to false worship."
 
The prefect Rusticus said: "If you do not do as you are commanded you will be tortured without mercy." Justin said: "We hope to suffer torment for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, and so be saved. For this will bring us salvation and confidence as we stand before the more terrible and universal judgment-seat of our Lord and Savior."
 
In the same way the other martyrs also said: "Do what you will. We are Christians; we do not offer sacrifice to idols."
 
The prefect Rusticus pronounced sentence, saying: "Let those who have refused to sacrifice to the gods and to obey the command of the emperor be scourged and led away to suffer capital punishment according to the ruling of the laws." Glorifying God, the holy martyrs went out to the accustomed place. They were beheaded, and so fulfilled their witness of martyrdom in confessing their faith in their Savior."

***** We live in an age much like the one into which Justin, Martyr was sent by the Lord who called him into the mission of the Church. Like Justin, we are called to go into the center of our modern Rome and set up the "schools" from which we will engage this age with the fullness of the truth. What is needed today are new apologists, defenders of the faith, for the new evangelization. On May 30, 2011, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI addressed the members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. He reminded them:  "The Gospel is the ever new proclamation of the salvation wrought by Christ to render humanity a participant in the mystery of God and in his life of love and to open it to a future of sure and strong hope. To underscore that at this moment in the history of the Church she is called to carry out a New Evangelization, means intensifying missionary action to correspond fully with the Lord's mandate. "To proclaim Jesus Christ the only Savior of the world seems more complex today than in the past; but our task remains the same as at the dawn of our history. The mission has not changed, just as the enthusiasm and the courage that moved the Apostles and the first disciples must not change. The Holy Spirit who pushed them to open the doors of the Cenacle, making them into evangelizers (cf. Acts 2:1-4), is the same Spirit that moves the Church today in a renewed proclamation of hope to the men of our time." As we reflect on the meaning of the Memorial Feast of Justin, Martyr, we need to implore the Lord to raise up new apologists, defenders of the faith, who are unafraid to contend in the marketplace of ideas for the heart and soul of the people of our age. We need to be ready to become the answer to our own prayer and prepare ourselves accordingly.

We live in a new missionary age. It is time for all Christians to embrace the ancient but ever new Christian faith, and to do so together. It is time to enter into the mission of this hour, together. It will take men and women who are willing, as Justin was, to say yes to the Lord.

In the midst of a Western Culture which resembles a new Rome, it is our moment to defend the faith like Justin did.  May the Holy Spirit inspire men and women who, like Justin and his companions, possess the heroic courage this mission will require. -----

Deacon Keith A. Fournier is Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance. A married Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, he and his wife Laurine have five grown children and seven grandchildren. He is a human rights lawyer and public policy advocate who served as the first and founding Executive Director of the American Center for Law and Justice in the nineteen nineties and has long been active at the intersection of faith and culture. He is a senior contributing writer to The Stream.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2016
Universal:
Sports: That sports may be an opportunity for friendly encounters between peoples and may contribute to peace in the world.
Evangelization: Living the Gospel: That Christians may live the Gospel, giving witness to faith, honesty, and love of neighbor.



Comments


More Living Faith

St. Monica: Mother of Augustine, Model of the Virtuous Mother Watch

Image of St. Monica with her son, St. Augustine, for whom she prayed over a period of seventeen years.

By Deacon F. K. Bartels

The saints were men and women who, in love with the fullness of truth, not only lived for God, but lived in God. They were people whose love for God rose to such heights as to illumine all of created reality in its true light. In everything they saw God's reflection: ... continue reading


Remembering Mother Teresa's happiest day Watch

Image of Mother Teresa recalls the best day of her life.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Mother Teresa once described the happiest day of her life - and it included a <i>huge</i> celebration. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - On February third, 1986, Mother Teresa was blessed with a visit from Pope John Paul II.The Pope arrived in Kolkata ... continue reading


'She radiated holiness': Mother Teresa's sainthood featured in new book 'A Call to Mercy' Watch

Image of

By Kate Veik (CNA)

It happened on the most ordinary day, in the most ordinary of places. Denver, CO (CNA) - A woman stood by herself in the back of an airport lounge, flipping distractedly through a magazine while she waited for her flight. Suddenly, she was approached by a 5'0" woman in ... continue reading


Couple refuses to abort - Daughter becomes beauty queen and athlete Watch

Image of Eliza grew to be an athlete and beauty queen (Caters News Agency).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Eliza McIntosh is known for overcoming odds and obstacles to reach her dreams. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Mirror UK, Eliza's parents were told to abort her.They were told Eliza would be severely disabled and would require a breathing tube for the ... continue reading


Pope Francis ditches Wednesday's General Audience - instead offers prayers for the victims of Italy's earthquake Watch

Image of Pope Francis offered prayers for victims of the earthquake.

By Elise Harris (CNA/EWTN News)

Instead of giving the usual catechesis during his Wednesday general audience, Pope Francis decided to postpone the speech, leading pilgrims in praying the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary for the victims of an earthquake that rocked central Italy earlier that morning. ... continue reading


A very brief history of priestly celibacy in the Catholic Church Watch

Image of As a general rule priests in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church take a vow to remain celibate before they are even ordained to the Order of Deacon. There are some exceptions.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The debate over married men becoming Catholic priests is an ancient one, stretching back to biblical times. As the debate resumes, one question always arises. What is the history of priestly celibacy? LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Ask anyone about the history ... continue reading


Will the next Synod of Bishops consider married men for ordination to the priesthood? Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier, CNA

In an article entitled "Next Synod likely to Focus on Ordaining Married Men" in the August 12 edition of CRUX, the British journalist Austin Invereigh reported that the next Synod of Bishops could focus on the possibility of opening ordination to the priesthood to ... continue reading


Mother Teresa: What was she really like? Watch

Image of

By Elise Harris (CNA/EWTN News)

Women's rights activist Reggie Littlejohn is known for her fierce work fighting forced abortion and gendercide in China, often through grilling speeches given before the U.S. Congress and the United Nations. Rome, Italy (CNA/EWTN News) - However, what is less-known ... continue reading


'Forgive, Love and Heal': One man's journey to 'Heaven' and back Watch

Image of Dr. Rajiv Parti believes he died and temporarily went to Heaven.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Dr. Rajiv Parti experienced an emergency in 2010 after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, leading him to an event that changed his life forever. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - When Dr. Parti was rushed to UCLA's emergency room, he lost control of his bodily ... continue reading


Famous atheist believes after miracle at Medjugorje Watch

Image of Randall Sullivan was an atheist, but now he believes after experiencing a vision on Cross Mountain.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Randall Sullivan was an atheist, working as a war correspondent in Bosnia. He was also a contributing editor to Rolling Stone magazine. During a visit to Medjugorje, something changed his life forever. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Sullivan started his day ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 1:26-31
26 Consider, brothers, how you were called; not many of you are wise by ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 33:12-13, 18-19, 20-21
12 How blessed the nation whose God is Yahweh, the people he has chosen ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 25:14-30
14 'It is like a man about to go abroad who summoned his servants and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 27th, 2016 Image

St. Monica
August 27: Saint Monica, also known as Monica of Hippo, is ... Read More