Church Father and apologist, St. Justin Martyr

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By Mel Mantanona
Saint’s Corner

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that our faith flows from one common source as two distinct modes of transmission: Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition (CCC 80). The latter of the two, Sacred Tradition, is that of which is transmitted or handed on from Christ and the apostles through Christians throughout the centuries.

An important source of the transmission is the Church Fathers who are those known to have helped shape the faith and practice of the church in its early beginnings. Among the list of Church Fathers is St. Justin, otherwise known as St. Justin Martyr, a notable early Church Father and Christian apologist.

In Justin’s personal search for truth, he found himself mingling with many different “voices” of what each thought was truth. Among these groups were Platonists, Peripatetic, and Pythagoreans, however, he rejected and disagreed with them all.

In the middle of all the quarrel, he had a place that he always fled to in order to escape all that was around him. One day, he found an old man following him. The old man and Justin had a very long discussion about the aspects of reasons, truth, deeds, and philosophy.

The old man challenged Justin and told him about ancient prophets who talked strictly about what they experienced by sight or by hearing and not about ideas (this experience being God.) The discussion ended with the old man telling Justin to pray for the opening of the gates of light.

Prompted, Justin went to the Scriptures and fell in love with them. He found truth and his home in Christianity and became one of the first great apologists for Christianity. He went on to help spread the truth and faith to the Jews, pagans, Greeks, and alike. He was beheaded alongside fellow martyrs in the year 165.

St. Justin Martyr is regarded as the most important interpreter of the theory of the Logos, the theology of the Word of God, Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, in the second century. One of his most notable works is Hortatory Address to the Greeks, an argument for Christianity over paganism. He was especially known for his “superior literary style.” His feast day is June 1.

Prayer: Saint Justin Martyr, pray that in our search for the Truth, God will open the gates of light for us the way God did for you and give us the wisdom no human being can give. Amen.

Information and photo from Catholic.org and The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church by Jimmy Akin.