Feast of Justin Martyr Calls For a New Generation of Apologists to Defend the Faith
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 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."
On this 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. 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. May we say "yes" to the invitation.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Justin Martyr, apologetics, evangelization, catechesis, martyrs, persecution, defending the faith, Rome, new Rome, Deacon Keith Fournier
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