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Holy Martyr Justin the Philosopher

On June 14th (the 1st, old style) the Church commemorates the holy martyr Justin the philosopher.

After the holy apostles, who instructed the Christian Church with their writings, come other writers known as apologists, i.e. defenders of the Christian teaching and of Christians themselves from unjust slander and persecution on the part of Jews, pagans and heretics. Among the few Church Fathers apologists mentioned in the beginning of Christian history, St. Justin is the first whose writings have reached us in their entirety.

St. Justin was born of pagan Greek parents circa 105 A.D. In his youth he studied in the philosophical schools of the adherents of Pythagoras and Plato, in which he, nevertheless, did not find true wisdom. Once, when he was walking along the seashore in solitude and pondering God, an unknown elder appeared before him, and having convinced him of the inadequacy of the entire pagan philosophy, directed him to the books of Old Testament prophets and Christian writers as the only bright source of knowledge of God.

From that time, the reading of Holy Scriptures because St. Justins major occupation and nurtured in him the decision to become a Christian, which he did in circa 133 A.D. Afterwards, without abandoning his mantle and title of philosopher, he traveled all over Asia, Greece and Italy, preaching the Christian faith in which he himself had found a source of divine light and spiritual peace, and also visited Rome twice. In his role of teacher he defended Christianity bravely and indefatigably, and suffered a martyric death through beheading in 167 A.D.

Holy martyr Justin the philosopher.
Holy martyr Justin the philosopher.

As a writer St. Justin is a veritable preacher of truth, but he was mostly known as a defender of Christianity. In his famous Apologia, for example, he protests against the unlawful execution of Christians on the strength of being slandered by pagans. If death is a blessing for Christians, why then do they not put themselves to death?- Justin was asked, and he replied: Suicide is criminal. But Christian martyrs go to their deaths because they consider it an iniquity to renounce truth.

Why does God, Who is venerated as a defender of Christians, allow His worshippers to be put to death? St. Justin was asked again. He replied: The persecution of Christians is instigated by evil demons. This is a struggle of evil against good, which began with the fall of the evil spirits, which was allowed by the Creator for the sake of the freedom of His created beings, and which intensified from the moment of the incarnation of the Saviour, Who had come to crush the demons, so that even now Christians expel demons in His name. God does not yet destroy demons and evil people for the sake of Christians. But the time will come when evil spirits and their followers will be punished with eternal fire, while Christians will be crowned with glory and rapture for their innocent sufferings. At the instigation of the evil spirits, the best people were always hated, persecuted and put to death. It is not surprising that Christians are subjected to greater hate, the higher and the holier their teaching.

Christian teaching is higher than all human teaching. The proof of the holiness of this teaching and the purity of life of the Christians lies in the very suffering of the martyrs, who fearlessly met death and who by the nature of their lives and their deaths bore witness to their teaching.

No one can see God except those who are pure in heart. It is not only impossible to show God, but it is equally impossible to describe God in any words whatsoever, because we cannot express anything in the human tongue which would fully convey an understanding of the supreme Being. God, Who is unseen with eyes, can be contemplated and known through faith and reason from the acts of His creation and His providence, and He will become known to us even more fully when we become clothed in immortality.

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