JUNE 2017


By Fr. Tirso Villaverde


 Feast of St. Justin the Apologist is on June 1


St. Justin was an apologist. The word apology (apologist) comes from the Greek word “apologizes” which means “to give an account.”

June 1st in the Catholic calendar of saints is the feast of St. Justin, Martyr. His life story and martyrdom actually provides a good amount of information regarding the life of the early Christians.

St. Justin lived in the second century. This was shortly after the last of the gospels were written. The Twelve Apostles have already been martyred for a long time before St. Justin was even born.

The Church’s preaching and teaching had moved from the testimony of eyewitnesses to Jesus to those who have come to believe through the preaching and teaching of the disciples who came after.

St. Justin was a convert to Christianity having studied Plato and the other great philosophers of ancient times. However, St. Justin found that the Christian faith answered all of the great questions about life and existence better than any of the philosophers. For this reason, he embraced the Christian faith.


St. Justin was known as an apologist. The word apology (from which comes apologist) is not what we might understand today. It comes from the Greek word “apologizesthai” which means “to give an account.” Therefore, apologist in this regard refers to a person who gives testimony and explanation in defense of a certain belief.

Before he was beheaded in Rome in the year 165, St. Justin wrote a defense of the Christian religion that is 67 chapters long. It is known as the “Apology of Justin Martyr.” St. Justin offered the defense in response to those who opposed the Christian faith and, in particular, the fact that he himself was a Christian. His written work is valuable because it provides a clear account of the beliefs, practices, and liturgical customs of the first Christians apart from the terse accounts we are able to gain from Acts of the Apostles together with St. Paul’s letters.

For one, the Apology of Justin Martyr shows us that already in the second century, Christians recognized something truly unique and different about the Eucharistic bread and wine. It comes from chapter 66 which was his defense of the early Eucharistic theology of the second century Church. In it, St. Justin writes referring to the bread and wine, “For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.”

Chapter 67

In the very words of a Christian from the second century, we learn that Christians already believed that the bread and wine were more than mere food or drink.

Instead, from St. Justin’s accounts, the early Christians believed that the bread and wine was somehow changed into the flesh and blood of Jesus. Obviously, for Catholics, this has become foundational to the belief in the Real Presence in the Eucharist—a mystery that Catholics will celebrate this month on June 18th with the Solemnity of Corpus Christi.

Further, the writing of St. Justin Martyr gives a concise account of the structure of the weekly worship service of the second century Christians. This is the full text of St. Justin’s chapter 67 which is titled “Weekly worship of the Christians.”

And we afterwards continually remind each other of these things. And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Ghost. And on the day called Sunday, all gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read; then the president verbally instructs to the imitation of these good things.

Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who are in want. Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead.

His words simply remind Christians of every denomination that what we continue to do to this day has been done by countless numbers of Christians as early as the first century after Jesus.


Immaculate Heart of Mary Shrine Consecration, June 24

St. Catherine Laboure Catholic Church in Glenview, IL is in the process of building the first Immaculate Heart of Mary Shrine in North America on their church grounds. The official consecration of the shrine will take place on Saturday, June 24. This event coincides with Our Lady of Fatima’s 100th Anniversary, the Marian apparition to three Portuguese children.

Through the generous donations of St. Catherine Laboure Asian American Association, parishioners and friends, they have raised more than 75% of the funding for construction in three years. St. Catherine welcomes donations. For those who wish to donate, call the parish at 847-729-1414 or email Ken at SCL3535@comcast.net. For those interested in attending the shrine’s June 24 consecration, St. Catherine Laboure Parish is at 3535 Thornwood Ave., Glenview, IL 60026.






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