- Fr. Bryan
St. Justin the Martyr and Early Christian Worship
Justin the Martyr is one of the most famous Christians from the Early Church. Justin served the Church as an apologist, meaning that he defended Christianity against the people who denounced this new religion, and he also addressed many misconceptions that non-believers had about Jesus and about his followers. St. Justin was beheaded in the year 165, making him a martyr for the Christian faith.
One of the reasons St. Justin is so important to us today is that he gives us an early description of what Christians did when they gathered together for worship on the Lord’s day. Here is his description of how Christians worshipped:
And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts 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.
Sound familiar? Even though this was written sometime between 155 and 157AD, it could have been written by anyone who went to St. Rose for Mass last week. This should bring us great comfort. We might be stunned by the faith of St. Justin and wonder if our faith would be as strong as his if we faced that type of persecution. Well, the very same prayer that Justin prayed every week – the very same prayer that built his faith and strengthened his faith - is available to us at St. Rose every Sunday, producing the same effects in us as it did in Justin.
More of Justin's writing's can be read by clicking here.