When I found out that this month’s theme for Everyday Ediths is “mission”, I was ecstatic! I immediately thought of my own mission to visit all of the California missions.
Quick history lesson! What are the California missions? They are a series of 21 missions established between 1769 and 1833 in California. They were founded by Catholic priests of the Franciscan order to evangelize the Native Americans. The surviving mission buildings are the state’s oldest structures and its most-visited historic monuments. They have become a symbol of California, appearing in many movies and television shows. You can find more information about them here.
Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing some of my favorite missions with all of you… and how they have shaped my personal missions (Yup! I’m posting multiple times this month!).
The very first mission I ever went to was Mission San Juan Bautista, which is about 20 minutes away from my hometown.
It’s absolutely beautiful and I fell in love with the architecture and the garden right away.
Visiting Mission San Juan Bautista when I was younger sparked an interest in me to learn more about the history side of my faith. I wanted to know more about how the evangelization of the Native Americans in what is now California shaped the culture and foundation of my home state. The mission has a museum in what was once the living quarters for the priests and converts.
I was able to learn a little bit about how they lived and see how far back the traditions of the Catholic faith go. At the time, I made it my mission to learn more about my faith. It was probably the first step I made towards my confirmation years later because it was the first time I really wanted to explore my faith on my own (meaning outside of CCD).
It was also the first time that I felt a connection with Our Blessed Mother.
I remember that moment quite clearly. I was walking around the garden outside the mission and I stopped to look at a statue of Mama Mary. She was adorned in rosaries and, for some reason, it just clicked in my mind how important she is. I can remember how badly I wanted to reach out and hold her hand. It was almost as if she was calling out to me, saying “Come, let me love you…” I was too young at the time to realize that she wanted to guide me to the Cross, but that moment had a huge affect on my spiritual journey. Every time I walk past that spot in the garden, I feel her pulling at my heart again.
Because of my fascination with the mission and that moment in the garden with Mary, I made it my personal mission to learn more about my faith and how it shaped the culture in the area where I grew up. That goal shifted into a mission to visit all of the missions in California and eventually turned into a mission to deepen my relationship with God and become a tool of evangelization myself… but I will save those stories for later on this month.
You will be hearing from me again soon, but I’d like to leave you with the following question: How did YOUR mission begin? Let me know in the comments!