June 30, 2019
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Seventh Sunday After Pentecost
St. Junipero Serra, Pray for Us
It was nearly 43 years ago, on September 14, 1975, that the first native born citizen of the United States was numbered among the saints, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. During his apostolic visit to the United States of America in September 2015, Pope Francis canonized St. Junipero Serra, the Father of California. It was the first and only canonization to take place on the soil of the United States of America. St. Junipero Serra is the only saint whose statue is found on the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington DC. Who was this remarkable man?
California is rightly known as one of the most beautiful and productive lands in all the world. Its luscious fruits and wine, olives and ranches have made it world renowned. But it was not always so. At one time before the great work of evangelization by the Catholic Missionaries there were no roads, no gardens, no fields of grain, no orchards, no vineyards, no olive groves, no permanent settlements. There were no ranches, no dairies, no stables. Its inhabitants lived in grass huts and lived on rodents and grasshoppers. Such was California before the grace of the redemption and the Cross of Christ was planted there.
But into this desperate world there came the brown robe who was all but 5’2” and who walked with a limp. He had journeyed thousands of miles from Vera Cruz in Mexico to the Bay which he named in honor of the founder of his order, San Francisco. St. Junipero Serra was a son of St. Francis and he was among the bravest of men who ever lived. No heart ever burned greater than his in his love for the native people of California. He came to teach them, correct them, protect them, and love them with a love they had never known before, the love of Christ the Redeemer. He came to bring them the sacraments and save their souls for Christ.
His goal was to create a golden trail of missions from south to north, from San Diego to San Francisco. Each mission would be 20 miles from the other – approximately a day’s walk. He chose the lushest areas to found the missions, to teach the natives agriculture and husbandry. Soon they abandoned their diet of rodents and grasshoppers and dined on citrus and every other fruit, the rich oil of the queen of fruits, the olive, and drank the fruit of the vine. But above all they were fed with the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Holy Communion.
Junipero wished to create a united people in this new land, for he had no notion of race. While on the East coast of North America the Protestant colonists were enslaving and killing the Native peoples whom they called Indians, St. Junipero wrote to the Vice Roy of Mexico, begging him to send Spanish men north and to take wives among the Indian women. St. Junipero built the great missions of California, still visited today with their vineyards and adobe chapels. The world has never known the likes of St. Junipero Serra again.
St. Junipero Serra’s feast is kept tomorrow, July 1st. May he speak good things on our behalf as he stands before the throne of God.
THE RENOVATED CHURCH: Last week I wrote that I would begin this week to write short explanations of the various aspects of our new and beautiful Church. Bishop Henning saw the renovated Church for the first time last Friday evening. He was amazed at its beauty (all thanks to you, good and generous parishioners). His first reaction was to say that it was a Roman Basilica. He said this because, as many visitors to Rome realize, a characteristic of the Roman Churches, is the presence of devotional chapels and niches where the faithful may go to pray. We now have three side chapels; 1) Our Lady of Guadalupe, 2) The Divine Mercy and Sacred Heart Chapel, and 3) The Rosary Chapel of Our Lady of Fatima. What happiness God has given me when I see so many of our parishioners go into these Chapels. Last week I was so moved to see one of our parishioners receive Holy Communion and then go into the Divine Mercy-Sacred Heart Chapel and pray so fervently. Another young man receives Holy Communion and immediately goes to the altar of Our Lady (where the organ used to be) and there lights a candle. Please feel free to move about the Church and pray at these shrines even during the Mass We must always feel at home in Our Father’s House.
Today I write about the Chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe. As we enter the Church, we see this lovely Chapel to our right. There in the center is a copy of the Miraculous Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe Appearing as she did when she first appeared to the poor humble Aztec St. Juan Diego on December 9, 1531. The image is an exact replica of the one in Mexico City and I personally brought it back from Mexico in 1998, always praying it would be displayed in a Church. On the left side of the same chapel is a beautiful portrait of the Visionary St. Juan Diego, also from Mexico. In true Mexican style the images are framed in gold and silver. But Our Lady of Guadalupe is not a Mexican apparition. When Our Lady appeared in 1531 there were no national boundaries anywhere in the America’s. She came, as she said, to demonstrate, to manifest, and make known her love and mercy to all who live together in these lands (North and South America). She appears in the exact center of the American continents. Her last words were: What is it that you need? That is why the Book of Intentions is in that Chapel. We tell Our Lady what we need.
Finally, on the right wall of the Chapel is a lovely copy in a beautiful frame of the great Spanish painter Velazquez entitled The Coronation of the Virgin. The original is in the Prado in Madrid, and it depicts Our Lady in Glory, awaiting us to join her in the blessedness of Heaven.
PRESCHOOL As many know, our preschool graduated its last group two weeks ago. I have written extensively about the preschool and why we had to end the program and one may look at past bulletins online to read about that. Naturally, there were many things in the preschool. In Canon Law we call these temporal goods of the parish, which in canon law is called juridic person. The pastor of each parish is called the juridic agent and thus the alienation of temporal goods is his responsibility. The temporal goods do not belong to him, but to the parish. However, he works as the agent of the goods.
I am sure you will be happy to know these goods (school supplies, furniture, etc.) were not sold. They were given as a gift to Missionaries who are beginning the foundation of a school in Ghana. These people are very poor with absolutely nothing. With the efforts of many, everything was packed away in container, that will be shipped to Ghana. The Director told us that even a crayon is like gold for the children of this poor country. When the children to whom these goods are to be sent, saw a video of them, they were laughing and clapping and were so excited. What American children take as a normal part of life, children in other parts of the world rejoice over them.
FINAL COMPLETION: We have now come to the final phase of construction in the Church which will be the enlarging of the narthex, the completion of the Fatima Chapel, the new lighting, and the mounting of the mysteries of the Rosary.
Because of this, we will once more move our Sunday Masses to Monsignor Costa Hall beginning the weekend of July 13/14. We will be there four weekends. We did this before during Lent, and now we offer this small inconvenience to God again. After this final phase, all will be ready.
Again, may I humbly implore those who have given nothing to this great work to the Glory of God to consider prayerfully becoming part of this great enterprise. No gift is too small.
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda