Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

6/2/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

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

On 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 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. 

The early Christian martyrs challenge us to lives of heroic virtue and sacrifice in this new missionary age

The early Christian martyrs challenge us to lives of heroic virtue and sacrifice in this new missionary age

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/2/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Justin Martyr, apologetics, evangelization, catechesis, martyrs, persecution, defending the faith, Rome, new Rome, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - On June 1 in the Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar we commemorate 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 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 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. 

---


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


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More U.S.

Obama grants clemency, 22 prison inmates to be released Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Obama granted clemency to 22 prisoners with drug-related charges, according to the announcement of the White House on Tuesday. Eight of them were initially sentenced with life imprisonment and expected to die behind bars, if not for the clemency granted. ... continue reading


Entire Alaskan town's population amazingly lives in a single housing unit Watch

Image of Inside the 14-story building rests a police station, school, post office and health clinic.

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In Whittier, Alaska, nearly everyone lives in a single building. The 14-story Begich Towers is the residence of almost all the 218 members of the town, including the police station, a school, an indoor playground, two convenience stores, a B&B, a laundromat and the ... continue reading


Where did April Fool's Day really come from? Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Christianity is one of the factors that led to the creation of the April 1, according to the most popular theory of the April Fools' Day. This is not a joke: according to the theory of the two calendars, most Christians wanted to celebrate the start of the New Year on ... continue reading


Extending the Lie: Ken Blackwell Asks, Which Black Lives Matter? Watch

Image of J. Kenneth Blackwell

By J. Kenneth Blackwell

Almost seven months after the fateful, fatal encounter between Michael Brown and former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, Attorney General Eric Holder officially announced a truth he had been holding close for months - that the "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" mantra ... continue reading


Americans gassed up their cars and took to the roads in a big, big way last year Watch

Image of In December, record-breaking traffic volume was reported with drivers logging 251.4 billion miles. Indiana led the pack with the highest single-state increase at 10.5 percent for that month.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's an American trait to gas up the car and take a drive - anywhere, and that certainly proved to be true last year. According to the Federal Highway Administration, or FHWA, Americans drove 3.02 trillion miles last year, the second-highest level of vehicle ... continue reading


Is the U.S. under Invasion? In nine U.S. States, troops to 'operate undetected amongst civilian population' Watch

Image of Despite assurances that the training is to prepare troops for overseas missions, Army documents in the past have made clear that plans for martial law are in place for within the Continental United States, or CONUS.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The military exercise is both mysterious and just a little bit threatening. The controversial Jade Helm military exercise, scheduled to take part in nine U.S. states this summer will involve soldiers operating "undetected amongst civilian populations." The ... continue reading


OPEN BORDERS: Children without guardians continue to stream into the United States Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Children without adult guardians, from the southern border that the United States shares with Mexico, continue to stream into the U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, speaking to Congress last week, says that these child immigrants number in the ... continue reading


Bella's Gift: The Santorum Book that Keeps on Giving Watch

Image of The book, Bella's Gift, has shaken me. On more than one occasion, it has forced me to my knees in tears. That is because, in a candid, honest, profoundly spiritual way, this splendidly written book puts the reader in the presence of unconditional love. then, through its deep spiritual truths, it unleashes the dynamic power of amazing grace.

By Keith A Fournier

I was with Rick Santorum at the Awakening Conference in Orlando, Florida. Rick and Karen Santorum are personal friends. Their whole family is a source of inspiration to me. But most especially, that little Princess named Bella Santorum. She is the center, the ... continue reading


Play-doh Christianity and the Vanishing Cross

Image of Bell can have his happy-clappy, navel-centered religion and his wimpy god. He just can't call it Christianity, and he can't claim it's the Church.

By Jennifer Hartline

There is no Christianity without Christ, and no Christ without the cross. There was no need for the cross except for our Redemption, and no need for that except for our sin. To preach Christianity without preaching repentance from sin and taking up your cross is ... continue reading


McDonald's does the unthinkable - Big Mac Shop launches McFashion clothing line Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Fast food conglomerate McDonald's had released its own fashion and lifestyle line, with the clothes full of Big Mac prints on them. The McFashion debuted on Tuesday in Sweden, in celebration of their most recent campaign, "I'm Lovin' It 24." Profit generated from the ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 50:4-9
4 Lord Yahweh has given me a disciple's tongue, for ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 69:8-10, 21-22, 31, 33-34
8 I am estranged from my brothers, alienated from my ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 26:14-25
14 Then one of the Twelve, the man called Judas ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 1st, 2015 Image

St. Hugh of Grenoble
April 1: Benedictine bishop of Grenoble, France, patron of St. Bruno. He ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter