Surprises me; a nice surprise of course. The Steller's jays are back, just as I'd decided not to spend another four bucks on peanuts for them and their cousins and the squirrels. Typically, I keep this resolve for a few days and then, on a morning when my shopping list is short, I think to myself, what the heck. (I mean, 'back here, to my window'; I doubt that they migrate: they simply haven't been here at all regularly for quite a while. Not since-- this is a coincidence doubtless-- about the time the one got trapped between the outside window and the interior window. I slid them back and forth until the stupid bird figured out how to fly off but it cannot have been a happy experience; it certainly wasn't for me.
The day's Mass, it being the feast of the philosopher Saint Justin, martyr, is Narravérunt mihi iníqui fabulatiónes (Introibo); the Cantus ID is g00149 and this Introit appears to be proper to the feast of Saint Justin. The martyrs Tiburtius, Valerianus, and Maximus are commemorated-- they were the betrothed and the brother of Saint Cecilia, if I recall rightly, or perhaps Valerianus was Tiburtius's brother. Maximus, I forget about altogether. Valerianus was the betrothed, Tiburtius his brother, and Maximus an officer who accepted martyrdom with the brethren. Evidently that Tiburtius and a different Tiburtius have gotten mixed up over the course of the centuries, ahem.
The Introit Narraverunt mihi doesn't show up at YouTube, tsk, nor does any other part of that Mass; finally, working through the Mass Sancti tui Domine benedicent te (for Saints Tiburtius et al; from the Common de pluribus martyribus), I found this recording of the Alleluia, Sancti tui Domine florebunt sicut lilium.
Time for Terce. While listening vaguely to Fr Grodziski's homily I thought of Pope Benedict XVI's series of allocutions on the Fathers and, sure enough, he discussed Saint Justin in the General Audience of March 21, 2007.
In these Catecheses, we are reflecting on the great figures of the early Church. Today, we will talk about St Justin, Philosopher and Martyr, the most important of the second-century apologist Fathers. The word "apologist" designates those ancient Christian writers who set out to defend the new religion from the weighty accusations of both pagans and Jews, and to spread the Christian doctrine in terms suited to the culture of their time. Thus, the apologists had a twofold concern: that most properly called "apologetic", to defend the newborn Christianity (ἀπολογία in Greek means, precisely, "defence"), and the pro-positive, "missionary" concern, to explain the content of the faith in a language and on a wavelength comprehensible to their contemporaries.
Justin was born in about the year 100 near ancient Shechem, Samaria, in the Holy Land; he spent a long time seeking the truth, moving through the various schools of the Greek philosophical tradition. Finally, as he himself recounts in the first chapters of his Dialogue with Tryphon, a mysterious figure, an old man he met on the seashore, initially leads him into a crisis by showing him that it is impossible for the human being to satisfy his aspiration to the divine solely with his own forces. He then pointed out to him the ancient prophets as the people to turn to in order to find the way to God and "true philosophy". In taking his leave, the old man urged him to pray that the gates of light would be opened to him. The story foretells the crucial episode in Justin's life: at the end of a long philosophical journey, a quest for the truth, he arrived at the Christian faith. He founded a school in Rome where, free of charge, he initiated students into the new religion, considered as the true philosophy. Indeed, in it he had found the truth, hence, the art of living virtuously. For this reason he was reported and beheaded in about 165 during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, the philosopher-emperor to whom Justin had actually addressed one of his Apologia.
These-- the two Apologies and the Dialogue with the Hebrew, Tryphon-- are his only surviving works. In them, Justin intends above all to illustrate the divine project of creation and salvation, which is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the Logos, that is, the eternal Word, eternal Reason, creative Reason. Every person as a rational being shares in the Logos, carrying within himself a 'seed', and can perceive glimmers of the truth. Thus, the same Logos who revealed himself as a prophetic figure to the Hebrews of the ancient Law also manifested himself partially, in 'seeds of truth', in Greek philosophy. Now, Justin concludes, since Christianity is the historical and personal manifestation of the Logos in his totality, it follows that "whatever things were rightly said among all men are the property of us Christians" (Second Apology of St Justin Martyr, 13: 4). In this way, although Justin disputed Greek philosophy and its contradictions, he decisively oriented any philosophical truth to the Logos, giving reasons for the unusual "claim" to truth and universality of the Christian religion. If the Old Testament leaned towards Christ, just as the symbol is a guide to the reality represented, then Greek philosophy also aspired to Christ and the Gospel, just as the part strives to be united with the whole. And he said that these two realities, the Old Testament and Greek philosophy, are like two paths that lead to Christ, to the Logos. This is why Greek philosophy cannot be opposed to Gospel truth, and Christians can draw from it confidently as from a good of their own. Therefore, my venerable Predecessor, Pope John Paul II, described St Justin as a "pioneer of positive engagement with philosophical thinking-- albeit with cautious discernment... Although he continued to hold Greek philosophy in high esteem after his conversion, Justin claimed with power and clarity that he had found in Christianity 'the only sure and profitable philosophy' (Dial. 8: 1)" (Fides et Ratio, n. 38).
Overall, the figure and work of Justin mark the ancient Church's forceful option for philosophy, for reason, rather than for the religion of the pagans. With the pagan religion, in fact, the early Christians strenuously rejected every compromise. They held it to be idolatry, at the cost of being accused for this reason of "impiety" and "atheism". Justin in particular, especially in his first Apology, mercilessly criticized the pagan religion and its myths, which he considered to be diabolically misleading on the path of truth. Philosophy, on the other hand, represented the privileged area of the encounter between paganism, Judaism and Christianity, precisely at the level of the criticism of pagan religion and its false myths. "Our philosophy...": this is how another apologist, Bishop Melito of Sardis, a contemporary of Justin, came to define the new religion in a more explicit way (Ap. Hist. Eccl. 4, 26, 7). In fact, the pagan religion did not follow the ways of the Logos, but clung to myth, even if Greek philosophy recognized that mythology was devoid of consistency with the truth. Therefore, the decline of the pagan religion was inevitable: it was a logical consequence of the detachment of religion-- reduced to an artificial collection of ceremonies, conventions and customs-- from the truth of being. Justin, and with him other apologists, adopted the clear stance taken by the Christian faith for the God of the philosophers against the false gods of the pagan religion. It was the choice of the truth of being against the myth of custom.
Several decades after Justin, Tertullian defined the same option of Christians with a lapidary sentence that still applies: "Dominus noster Christus veritatem se, non consuetudinem, cognominavit"-- Christ has said that he is truth not fashion (De Virgin. Vel. 1, 1). It should be noted in this regard that the term consuetudo, used here by Tertullian in reference to the pagan religion, can be translated into modern languages with the expressions: "cultural fashion", "current fads". In a time like ours, marked by relativism in the discussion on values and on religion-- as well as in interreligious dialogue-- this is a lesson that should not be forgotten. To this end, I suggest to you once again-- and thus I conclude-- the last words of the mysterious old man whom Justin the Philosopher met on the seashore: "Pray that, above all things, the gates of light may be opened to you; for these things cannot be perceived or understood by all, but only by the man to whom God and his Christ have imparted wisdom" (Dial. 7: 3).
Amen. Had intended at this point, ante Sextam, to return to the Argonautica but I began A.M. Juster's translation of Horace's Saturae last evening and will continue with those until my nap supervenes, ahem.
Only when I said Sext did it occur to me, who am not always the cleverest of fellows, that the first part of the Introit of the Mass, Narravérunt mihi iníqui fabulatiónes, sed non ut lex tua, is from Psalm 118 commonly said at Sext, Defecit in salutare tuum, verse 85; the second part of it, ego autem loquébar de testimóniis tuis in conspéctu regum, et non confundébar, is verse 46, from Et veniat super me at Terce, et loquébar in testimóniis tuis in conspéctu regum: * et non confundébar, with two or three minor differences (I didn't notice at Terce, tsk, nor when I copied the link from Introibo, tsk yet again). And it is impossible (for me, I mean) to know whether those alterations were made by the composer of the Introit or if he has utilized the Vetus Latina, one of the Latin versions used in the Western Church prior to the work of Saint Jerome. And of course the feast of Saint Justin is moved, in the Pauline Rite, to another day, so I cannot easily listen to the Jouques nuns' singing of this Mass. Whine, whine; the new date is the Kalends of June, supposedly to prevent the Easter days from suppressing the feast. This has been the the feast day in the East since the 9th century so I won't grumble too much; but I still would have liked to listen to the nuns sing Saint Justin's Mass.
Iustinus martyr occubuit Romae anno fere 165, sed dies eius depositionis ignoratur. Eius festum ascriptum est in Calendario romano anno 1882, die 14 aprilis celebrandum, postridie memoriam eius in Martyrologio Flori. Cum tamen dies ista saepius in sollemnitates paschales incidat, memoria S. Iustini in diem 1 iunii translata est, qua die agitur apud Byzantinos, saltem a saeculo IX.
Hearing is the way to life.
It is also the feast of Saint Benedict (12th century), of Saint Pedro (13th century), and of Saint Alfonso (15th century).
V. Et álibi aliórum plurimórum sanctórum Mártyrum et Confessórum, atque sanctárum Vírginum. R. Deo grátias.
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