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God enlightens every man coming into this world. (Gospel, S. John 1, 9)

When St. Francis Xavier came to Japan to preach the Gospel for the first time, his listeners complained that God had abandoned them for so long and that their ancestors were damned for not having faith. The Saint instructed them thus: “If your ancestors have faithfully followed the lights of their reason and conscience, God will have enlightened them inwardly so as not to let them die without faith. If not, they are damned, and rightly so.” – St. Thomas Aquinas also teaches that, if the wildest man follows the impulse of his reason, avoids evil and does good, God will communicate to him the necessary means for salvation, either by an interior inspiration or by a special envoy.

All pagans are not therefore damned. Their eternal fate depends on their conformity to the natural law written in the heart of every human being.

Saint Justin, the philosopher and the old man, on the banks of the Tiber.

Saint Justin, who suffered martyrdom in 166, had been a pagan at first and in his youth had devoted himself to the study of philosophy: he had studied all its systems without having found rest of mind. One day, as he was walking along the banks of the Tiber River in Rome, thinking about philosophical questions, he met an old man who greeted him and asked him what he was thinking about; Justin answered that he was thinking about philosophical problems and that he was searching for the truth. The old man told him that no philosopher had found it, but that it was in the sacred books of the Christians; that these books, written by men inspired by God, contained the answer to all the problems of the origin and end of things. Justin obtained these books, studied them seriously and soon came to the conviction that Christianity was the truth. He was baptized and became a zealous advocate (apologist) of the religion. Around the years 150-160, he published several pleas or apologies in favor of the Christians against the calumnies of the pagans, which he also addressed to the emperors. Denounced by the philosopher Crescent, Justin was imprisoned, and because he refused to sacrifice to idols, he was scourged and beheaded.

God gives the grace of faith to those who sincerely seek the truth.

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