Holy Thursday, Saint Justin Martyr and History

Thursday, March 24, AD 2016

justinmartyr4

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).

Pope Benedict XVI, March 21, 2007

 

 

On Holy Thursday we commemorate the first Mass, the first miracle of the Eucharist.  None of us having been there, how do we know it occurred?  Faith of course, but faith buttressed by the knowledge that our Faith is supported by historical facts.  We know when Christ lived.  At each Mass we remember that He suffered under Pontius Pilate which allows us to date the Crucifixion and the Last Supper to plus or minus a few years.  We know when Caiaphas was High Priest.  Judaea, the province in which Christ lived, was not some make-believe land but a province of the Roman Empire and we know much about it at the time of Christ.  Above all, we have the Gospels and the Epistles of Saint Paul, documents written while those who saw and heard Christ still lived.

This of course was only the start of the historical record of Catholicism, the Universal Church.  Each generation produced new writers who give us precious facts of the journey through history of the Faith of Christ.  One of the most important of the early writers about the Church is Saint Justin Martyr.

Justin Martyr was born in Flavia Neapolis, ancient Shechem,  modern day Nablus, in Judaea circa 100 AD.  He was brought up a pagan.  Having enough money to pursue the study of philosophy, he encountered the teachings of Christ, after a long and methodical search for the true philosophy, and became a convert.  Having found the true philosophy, he traveled around the Roman Empire, spreading it, garbed in his philosopher’s gown.  Eventually he settled in Rome.  He wrote eight treatises defending Christianity.  His best known work is his First Apology which he addressed to the Roman Emperor Antonius Pius, one of the best of the emperors, who reigned from 138-161 AD.  This Apology was a plea for the Emperor to stop persecuting the Christians.  In this Apology he gives us many details as to how Catholics worshiped in Rome during the middle of the Second Century.   His description of the Eucharist is a treasure for all Catholics as we attend Holy Thursday Mass today.

Continue reading...

One Response to Holy Thursday, Saint Justin Martyr and History

Saint Augustine: The Body and The Blood

Thursday, April 17, AD 2014

BouveretLastSupper

Christ bore Himself in His hands, when He offered His body saying: “this is my body.”

Saint Augustine

 Continuing on with our Lenten series in which Saint Augustine is our guide, go here  , here  ,here  , here, here , here  and here to read the first seven posts in the series, we come to Holy Thursday and the First Mass.  As Catholics, we join in the great mystery of God sacrificing Himself for us at every Mass we witness, just as if we were sitting at the Last Supper watching Christ transforming the bread into His Body and the wine into His Blood.  Saint Augustine explained to new Catholics why bread and wine are placed on Catholic altars:

Continue reading...

2 Responses to Saint Augustine: The Body and The Blood

Saint Peter and the Last Supper

Thursday, March 28, AD 2013

 

 

I have always been fascinated by the figure of Saint Peter, our first Pope.  He was such an unlikely choice!  God could have chosen a priest, a very wise teacher, a prophet, a ruler, even, Heaven help us, a lawyer.   Someone who, to most superficial human eyes, would have been vastly more suited to be the first head of His Church on Earth. Instead he chose a humble fisherman.  Why?  Any number of reasons, I suppose, many of them still known only to God.  Perhaps one of the major factors was the love that Peter bore for Christ.  We see this after their first meeting when Peter urges Christ to go from him because Peter is a sinful man.  I think that at that point Peter desperately wanted to follow Christ, but he thought he was unworthy to because of his sins.  He was willing to have Christ depart from him in order to protect Christ from Peter’s sinful nature.

Peter is heartbroken when Christ reveals that he must die on the Cross.  Peter tells Christ that this must not happen, only to be rebuked by Christ for acting as a Satan attempting to tempt His human weakness.  This was said shortly after Christ, no doubt to Peter’s immense shock, advised him that He was going to build His Church on him, and committed to him the keys of the kingdom of Heaven.  How strange it must have all seemed to the Fisherman from Galilee!  However, his love for Christ kept him at the side of Jesus.

At the Last Supper when Christ reveals the Eucharist, He has this dialogue with Peter:

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”

And he (Peter) said unto him, “Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.”

And he (Jesus) said, “I tell thee Peter, the cock show not crow on this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.”

After seeing the great miracle of the Last Supper, Peter did precisely that, deserting Christ in His hour of need, denying him three times. 

Continue reading...

8 Responses to Saint Peter and the Last Supper

  • Beautifully done.
    Wait a second…..Jesus could of chosen a Lawyer?
    Well ummm, a public defender??…yes Yes a public defender!
    Just kidding…I realize your profession is an easy target. Many great Bannisters make good public officials…atleast thats what I’ve heard.
    All kidding aside. Thank you for this post.

  • St. Peter, pray for us.

    And, When Our Lord was led out from before the council, we looked at Peter and their eyes met. And, Peter wept bitterly and fled.

    However, Peter repented and sought forgiveness and came forward (Christ’s prayer for Peter had been answered) to lead his brothers and he founded the Church in Rome.

    When it came to his time to bear the fatal witness to the Gospel, Peter required that he be crucified head down so as not to die as Our Lord had died to redeem the World.

    We adore you, O Christ, and we bess you. Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the World.

  • Though, in his first Volume of Jesus of Nazareth, Benedict does propose that the Father of Simon and Andrew may have been one of the priests who performed duties in the temple on a rotating basis and that he kept his fishing business nearby to help make ends meet.

    If this is true, then it does point to a certain basic familiarity with the Temple that Simon/Peter would have had, rather than being merely some “ignorant fisherman”.

  • Whoops… I was mistaken. It was Zebedee the father of James and John that was referred to above as a possible priest with Temple duties, not Simon and Andrew’s father. (Jonah?)

  • Pingback: Pope Francis and the Washing of Women's Feet - Big Pulpit
  • Yes, Chris. John tells us in his Gospel that he was known to the high priest. Strange, though, Zebedee is not called Saint. If I add a point to this excellent post: When Jesus speaks to Peter at the Passover meal, He first uses the plural “You,” then He switches to the singular. “Satan has desired to sift you (plural), but I have prayed for thee (singular). Such it is in the inspired Greek.

  • It is simply astounding to imagine Peter in Rome!

    He probably had a good head for business and figures since he had his own boat and men working for him but I doubt he spoke more than his local dialect or read more than essential Hebrew.

    That he and Paul spread the Gospel so widely is one of God’s most amazing and least celibrated miracles! It gives me great hope too for so many good people are lost and desperate. The West so very much needs us; now more than ever.

    I really heard the Good Friday readings for the first time today. I’ve gone through the Tridium motions for years but I heard the Gospel loudly today. How did I miss the passages from Isaiah foretelling Christ?! I’m a 42 year old, cradle Catholic and I never put it together… Even though the Church put it together for me. 700 years before Christ he told the world exactly what was going to happen. And, you know what, I now believe… Not in the amorphous, non-specific sense that I have but in the sense that my mind can conceive of no explanation for the accuracy of Isaiah’s prophesy that that Jesus is the Christ!

    It is a very good day and I am filled with hope and joy and am excited by my discovery and overwhelmed by my foolishness.

    Jesus lives!

  • I think of the devil in the role of accuser, his place in the story of Job and how it parallels his part with Peter. Interesting.

Saint Justin Martyr and Holy Thursday

Thursday, April 1, AD 2010

On Holy Thursday we commemorate the first Mass, the first miracle of the Eucharist.  None of us having been there, how do we know it occurred?  Faith of course, but faith buttressed by the knowledge that our Faith is supported by historical facts.  We know when Christ lived.  At each Mass we remember that He suffered under Pontius Pilate which allows us to date the Crucifixion and the Last Supper to plus or minus a few years.  We know when Caiaphas was High Priest.  Judaea, the province in which Christ lived, was not some make-believe land but a province of the Roman Empire and we know much about it at the time of Christ.  Above all, we have the Gospels and the Epistles of Saint Paul, documents written while those who saw and heard Christ still lived. 

This of course was only the start of the historical record of Catholicism, the Universal Church.  Each generation produced new writers who give us precious facts of the journey through history of the Faith of Christ.  One of the most important of the early writers about the Church is Saint Justin Martyr.

Justin Martyr was born in Flavia Neapolis, ancient Shechem,  modern day Nablus, in Judaea circa 100 AD.  He was brought up a pagan.  Having enough money to pursue the study of philosophy, he encountered the teachings of Christ, after a long and methodical search for the true philosophy, and became a convert.  Having found the true philosophy, he traveled around the Roman Empire, spreading it, garbed in his philosopher’s gown.  Eventually he settled in Rome.  He wrote eight treatises defending Christianity.  His best known work is his First Apology which he addressed to the Roman Emperor Antonius Pius, one of the best of the emperors, who reigned from 138-161 AD.  This Apology was a plea for the Emperor to stop persecuting the Christians.  In this Apology he gives us many details as to how Catholics worshiped in Rome during the middle of the Second Century.   His description of the Eucharist is a treasure for all Catholics as we attend Holy Thursday Mass today.

Continue reading...

4 Responses to Saint Justin Martyr and Holy Thursday

  • “As Catholics in the Twenty-First Century we are part of a long process of the keeping of the truth handed to the Apostles by Christ on that Thursday night so long ago.”

    Thank you for this post and, in particular, this sentence. It evokes a feeling I had while converting to Catholicism: I felt moved by the fact that this rite was being practiced every day around the world in unbroken succession from that time. Holy Thursday has always been one of my favorite days (nights) on the liturgical calendar for many reasons, this among them.

  • Great article Don.

    I have used that quote from Justin Martyr for a number of years in RCIA classes. It gives candidates a real perspective of the depth of history of the Church, and assists authenticity.
    I also like Clements description of the hierarchy – around 94 AD.
    Jus love the Early Church Fathers.

  • Thank you Don. Justin Martyr reminds us that when people speak of the early Church, whether they realize it or not, they are talking about the Catholic Church.

    J. Christian, Holy Thursday has always moved me too. Just got back from Mass where we sang Tantum Ergo. The Catholic Church we see today is such a small portion of the Catholic Church throughout the ages and in eternity.

  • Pingback: Make Me Ugly, Lord – The Story of St. Brigid of Ireland