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Justin Martyr's feast day

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Today, June 1, is the feast day of Justin Martyr, teacher and witness. I've had it marked for some time -- but as even one of their own poets has said, "How do you thank some one who has taken you from crayons to perfume?"* Remarks upon the martyrs, even the secular ones, make me uncomfortable somehow, since the addition of mere chatter can hardly add to their witness. For a teacher like Justin, who pioneered hermeneutics, catechized and unknown many, mentored saints by creatively conveying the traditions of the Apostles, what does a schmoe like myself add to a record of witness unto death?

Though, the greatness of the greats is just one aspect. It's never stopped me from wisecracking on them before, surely. Part of it is just that the old martyrs are safely ensconced in reverential irrelevance, just waiting to have our neuroses projected on them in large scale; that's embarrassing, despite being inevitable. The new martyrs, the fresh ones, are part of politics, are part of the fight we are embedded in. Commentary has the feel of mere spin, fodder for our ideal can[n]on. To make the martyrs relevant, perhaps, isn't possible. Whatever I tell you about Justin is just a part of my quirks, some of my rustic charm, an agenda item, an ideological reconstruction. All Justin says about the Logos and the old man by the sea is gone and buried, rescued from oblivion perhaps only by a handful of vellum scraps, parchment bodyguards taking the brunt of time, and it speaks to a world now unimaginable.

What can I add to Justin himself that will speak to you? Is there any special pleading that will make one man's death for his love stand out, grasp you as he does me? Perhaps not. The witness only points to the truth. (And it may be that direct witness is no longer the way of the age.)

So I would have had him leave,
So I would have had her stand and grieve*
My suspicion is that the unity of now and past (near and far pasts both) with the personal should be expressed according to the tradition:
through the folly of the cross,
You taught St. Justin the sublime wisdom of Jesus Christ.
May we too reject falsehood
and remain loyal to the faith.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen
More folly, I know, but today remember both the martyrs and the innocent dead, killed at all times and being killed now, in Sudan, China, Burma, Columbia and in all other places. Kyrie elieson, Christe elieson, Kyrie elieson.

* = Natalie Merchant, "To Sir With Love"

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