With two children in college and a daughter getting married in the fall, it was pretty hard for me to rationalize the couple thousand dollars in airfare that it would take for us just to get there and back. We decided that it would have to wait. Someday. . .
We had talked about a trip or even a pilgrimage in our own country. Perhaps the California Missions. Isn’t the drive up the California coastline supposed to be beautiful?
My research confirmed that it would indeed be a beautiful trip. Now I waited for that “sign” from God that this would be something we should do.
My answer came by way of the internet. That budget airline with the animals on their tails sent me an email with their “deals of the day,” a flight to LA for only $59. (I’ve had experience with this airline before—and I’ve landed safe and sound multiple times with them. Don’t worry. )
The next email in my inbox was from Franciscan Media. They announced a new book by Stephen Binz called: Saint Junipero Serra’s Camino: A Pilgrimage Guide to the California Missions.
This was all the “sign” I needed, so I booked our trip for June, ordered the book, and surprised by husband with both the airline tickets and book on the actual day of our anniversary.
After reading the book and doing a little more research with Google Maps, we had fun planning our trip. Here is a picture of the map of our trip that I made for ourselves and the kids so they could see what we were doing. The pentagon symbol was where we lodged for the night.
If you ever travel along this route in California, you will notice that it is lined with these mission bells.
This is a fitting description of what happened to us.
At every mission we witnessed the faith of the church and saw families, couples, and individuals deep in prayer. All of the missions had beautiful art from Spain, Mexico, and some created from the Indian people themselves.
At each mission, we’d first take a tour, usually self-led. With so much art, history, and other interesting surroundings, it was hard to quiet the mind for prayer. After we had a while to take it all in, we made our way back to the mission chapel for a quiet time of prayer. We usually ended our time at the mission with the brief readings and prayers that are in Stephen Binz book. He provides a simple prayer service written for each mission that can be read and prayed alone or with a group.
With all this time to pray, I tried to spend a lot of it just listening to what God wanted me to hear from Him. I definitely felt that urge to evangelize, just as the priests who built these missions wanted to win the hearts of these people over to God. I spent a lot of time praying for family and friends. Many rosaries were said as we definitely felt the presence of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose image was portrayed in all of the missions, accompanying our pilgrimage.