Thursday, July 1, 2010

Memories of Monterey -- Feast of Junipero Serra

When Lyle and I were first married in 1987, our adventure began in Monterey, Californina. We attended the Defense Language Institute for Serbo-Croatian language before going to Yugoslavia for a year. Learning a difficult language, a drastically different culture and the history, socio-economic and political factors of the region of the world we were about to enter was daunting. But, the angels in Northern California wouldn't allow us to be all work and no play. The beauty of the surroundings beckoned to us to set the studies down and come enjoy every once in a while.

One of the most wonderful things we did was to visit the mission Churches. The mission in Carmel was just beautiful with its simplicity, yet it is marvelously detailed to inspire worship. The missions were not haughty Churches, but practical and inviting -- the kind in which you can imagine indigenous peoples feeling welcomed. Yes, the history taught these days might suggest otherwise, but the Church offered hope to a people whose lives, both spiritual and physical, were constantly at risk. For instance, Bl. Junipero was the intermediary for the native American people, and successfully, even a the point of death, journeyed from Northern California to Mexico to negotiate a "Bill of Rights" for the indigenous people with the military. Their lives took on a new character with the blessings of the Church -- a character that afforded hope and stability.

The Mission Churches had an impact on my own spiritual life. It was in them that I can remember questioning my lack of faith. It was at one that I remember attending my first-ever Mass on Holy Thursday -- my initial taste of the Triduum.

On this, his feast day, we ask Bl. Junipero to please continue to pray for the people of America. Help them to enter full Communion with Holy Mother Church. And, with the grace of your missionary zeal, inspire others to bring Christ to those who don't know Him.

Bl. Junipero Serra, pray for us.

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