If you’ve been following along this month as I share some of my favorite California missions, you have seen how my mission began and how it changed. Although I still strive to learn more about my faith and help my husband get to heaven, there is more to my mission in life. My husband Jacob is my first priority (other than God, of course), but we as a couple have a job to show Christ’s love to the world. That is my real mission. To let God’s light shine through me.
Like most of my spiritual “ah-ha!” moments, my real mission of sharing my faith- and God’s Love- with others was made clear to me in a California mission. Allow me to explain as I introduce the first California mission: Mission San Diego de Alcala.
Mission San Diego was the first mission that Junipero Serra founded, which is how it earned its nickname “Mother of the Missions”. It may have been the first-ever mission, but it was actually the very last mission that I visited! The first time I went there, I went with a non-Catholic friend of mine. She was curious to know what the California missions were all about and asked me if I would take her. I happily did so! I was very excited that she was interested in learning about the history of my state and my faith. However, that happiness quickly turned into disappointment and frustration as we walked through the church and the museum.
There was one thing in the museum that she described as “creepy”. What was this item? A crucifix. This one, actually:
For someone who is not aware of what they represent, it is probably intense to see these sort of images. I know that she did not mean any offense (I talked to her about it later), but it hurt that someone would call an image of my Lord “creepy”. I do understand that this is not the most glamorous representation of Christ crucified, but that was how the converted Native Americans depicted Him in their art. It’s part of California’s story- culturally and spiritually.
My friend is not the first person to tell me the Catholic faith is “creepy”. There are several other people who have said similar things to me, but I can’t get mad at them for their perceptions of the Catholic Church. It is not their fault that they have been misguided or misinformed. However, it is my job to do my best to defend the Catholic faith, debunk myths, and educate with the truth. If they choose to see the light, AWESOME! If they choose to continue on the path they are on, that’s cool, too. They have the free will to do so.
My hope is that others can see that not all of the Catholic Church (and her history) is that intense. There is so much Truth and Light and Love hiding beneath the surface.
Just like St. Junipero Serra, it is my mission to bring the light of Christ to others. I want to show them just how beautiful the Catholic faith really is.
That is my real mission.
To wrap up my take on this theme of “mission”, I would like to share a prayer to St. Junipero Serra, the founder of the California missions whose mission was to convert souls:
“Saint Junipero Serra, your missionary zeal brought the light of Christ to millions. You endured so many hardships, and labored so much that your work resonates today in the hearts of hundreds of millions of Catholics.
Saint Serra, I petition you today to help me deliver the light of Christ through my words and deeds to others. May I instruct by example and faithfully guide others to Christ, just as you so wonderfully did centuries ago.
I pray that you stand beside me, that you grant me the wisdom and words to share. Please intercede for me before the throne of Christ, may you both witness the work I do on His behalf. I offer my labor and my sacrifice to you. Please receive me as your faithful servant, in Christ, My Lord, I pray.”