Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Fathers Speak: St. Justin Martyr

The Fathers Speak:
St. Justin Martyr

          Justin was martyred in the middle of the second century.  He was a student of Greek philosophy who converted to Christianity after finding in it the truth he had been seeking.  He is perhaps best known for his two Apologies, which he wrote in an attempt to show the emperor that Christianity should not be a capital crime.  They are beautiful witnesses to the faith and practices of the early Church.  It is amazing to see how the Mass of those first Catholics parallels so closely our worship today.
But we, after thus washing the one who has been convinced and assented [to our instruction], lead him to those who are called brethren, where they are assembled; and we offer prayers in common for ourselves and for the one who has been illuminated and for all others everywhere, that we may be accounted worthy, having learned the truth, by our deeds also to be found good citizens and guardians of what is commanded, so that we may be saved with eternal salvation…

Then there is brought to the Ruler of the Brethren bread and a cup of water and [a cup] of wine mixed with water, and he taking them sends up praise and glory to the Father of the Universe through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and offers thanksgiving at some length for our being accounted worthy to receive these things from Him.  When he has concluded the prayers and the thanksgiving, all the people present assent by saying, Amen…

And this food is called among us eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things which we teach are true, and has received the washing that is for the remission of sins and for rebirth, and who so lives as Christ handed down.  For we do not receive these things as common bread nor common drink; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Savior having been incarnate by God’s logos took both flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food eucharistized through the word of prayer that is from Him, from which our blood and flesh are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who became incarnate. – From the First Apology