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Friday, June 1, 2012

St. Justin

(d. 165)

Feast Day: June 1

Justin never ended his quest for religious truth even when he converted to Christianity after years of studying various pagan philosophies.

As a young man, he was principally attracted to the school of Plato. However, he found that the Christian religion answered the great questions about life and existence better than the philosophers.

Upon his conversion he continued to wear the philosopher's mantle, and became the first Christian philosopher. He combined the Christian religion with the best elements in Greek philosophy. In his view, philosophy was a pedagogue of Christ, an educator that was to lead one to Christ.

Justin used his great knowledge to teach. He explained to the pagans why they should not worship idols and revealed to them the mysteries of the true Faith. Justin traveled to other lands to debate publicly. He also wrote two open letters, The First Apology and The Second Apology, to the emperor Antonius Pius and his son, the philosopher, Marcus Aurelius. In these long, written arguments known as apologies, he explained and defended the Faith.

At last Justin incurred the wrath of a cynic philosopher, Cresens, for criticizing his immorality, and Justin was arrested for being a Christian. He was brought before the Roman prefect, Junius Rusticus, to be accused. Just before Rusticus sentenced him to death, he asked Justin, "If you are killed, do you suppose you will go to heaven?" "I do not suppose it," Justin answered, "but I know and am fully persuaded of it." Justin and five other martyrs were beheaded around the year 165.

Trial of Justin The Philosopher

As patron of philosophers, Justin may inspire us to use our natural powers (especially our power to know and understand) in the service of Christ and to build up the Christian life within us. Since we are prone to error, especially in reference to the deep questions concerning life and existence, we should also be willing to correct and check our natural thinking in light of religious truth. Thus we will be able to say with the learned saints of the Church: I believe in order to understand, and I understand in order to believe.

"Philosophy is the knowledge of that which exists, and a clear understanding of the truth; and happiness is the reward of such knowledge and understanding" (Justin, Dialogue with Trypho, 3).

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