St Justin Martyr

(entered heaven in 165)

Dear Marty,

Do not be afraid of questions, my bright little nephew!  Neither the questions that you come up with yourself, nor the questions hurled at you by others.  God gave us minds, and he wants us to use them. Even if you don’t know the answers at first, be confident that there are answers, and that they all lead to God, for God is the author of all truth and of all things true, and he cannot contradict himself.  If you love the truth, every question for you will be the start of an adventure, of a “quest,” as the word itself implies. Far from shutting down our intellect, faith in Christ puts it into overdrive. Take a lesson from today’s saint, the first great Christian philosopher and apologist.

Before St Justin came around, the Christians kept their doctrine off the public radar screen; they gained converts only by one-on-one exchanges, in the safety of private conversations.  St Justin, however, was convinced that many more Romans would embrace Christ if Christians made an effort to publicize their faith and their practices. He himself, for example, had been haplessly searching for the truth about God as he tried out every school of philosophy and religion that the Roman Empire had to offer.  Only a chance encounter with an old man on a beach spurred him to look into the teachings of Christ. If such was the case for him, he argued, surely it could work for many others. Besides, he did not want to be held responsible before God for hoarding the truth that leads to salvation. So he published explanations of Christian doctrine, worship, and morals (his two great “Apologies” – from the Greek for “explanation”), opened a school for Christian philosophy, and traveled the Empire engaging prominent teachers and philosophers in discussions about the faith.  His efforts gave a critical boost to the Church in the Age of Persecutions. They also put his neck on the chopping block. When he was turned in to the Roman prefect by one of his disgruntled opponents (academic envy is not something unique to modern times, you know), he refused to sacrifice to the pagan gods, boldly affirming (together with six other Christians on trial with him), “We ask nothing better than to suffer for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ and so to be saved.” They all lost their heads and found heaven.

So don’t take it from me, take it from St Justin, and ask him to support you with his prayers.  If you are a besieged minority there in the new paganism of college culture, rejoice in the chance to spread and defend Truth himself!  If you always seek and love the truth, you simply can’t go off track. Just be sure not to pursue knowledge in order to gain fame and prestige – that will also put you on track, but not the right track.

Love, Uncle Eddy

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