Today we honor St. Justin who was a great champion of Christianity. What he stood up for was his belief that Christianity is a most reasonable religion. Born less than a century after Jesus, Justin was a wealthy young man whose deep studies in Greek philosophy earned him the right to wear the distinctive robes of a philosopher.
Walking on the beach one day, Justin fell in with an elderly Christian who said to him, “Sir, you know all about God, but that is nothing, because you do not know God.”
His curiosity piqued by that assertion, Justin asked the old man how could he actually come to know God. The man opened Justin’s eyes and heart, first by introducing him to the writings of Isaiah, then to the Gospels and St. Paul.
Eagerly accepting Baptism, Justin went to Rome where he set up a school of Christian learning. In that role he successively defended the faith against all of the Church’s early heresies. He also kept abreast of detractions about Christianity that were uttered on the floor of the Roman Senate. He wrote refutations of false statements about Christianity, posting his defenses on a wall outside the Forum.
In the year 160 when a senator gave a speech accusing Christians of coming together to worship a goat, St. Justin posted this explanation of our Mass.
On that day which is called after the sun, all who are in the towns and in the country gather together for a communal celebration. And then the memoirs of the Apostles or the writings of the Prophets are read as long as time permits. After the reader has finished his task, the one presiding gives an address urgently admonishing his hearers to practice these beautiful teachings in their lives. Then all stand up together and recited prayers.
After the end of the prayers, bread and wine mixed with water are brought in, and the president offers prayers and thanksgivings as much as in him lies. The people chime in with an Amen. Then takes place the distribution to all the attending of the things over which the thanksgiving has been spoken, and the deacons bring a portion to the absent. Besides, those who are well- to-do give whatever they will.
The Mass hasn’t changed since St. Justin’s time. We still have Sunday collections.