When I was a kid, I loved visiting the various California missions with my family. I was fascinated with the colorful wall designs, thick adobe buildings, and glimpses into the past. Moreover, I was intrigued by the work of Saint Junípero Serra whose feast day we celebrate today.
It’s been decades since my first Mission visit, but it feels even more moving since I was blessed to be married at the Carmel Mission, just a few feet away from the grave of Saint Junípero Serra . Now that I’m older, I’m even more amazed by his life—leaving his homeland, setting off to an unknown territory, and traveling so many miles to spread the Gospel and establish the Missions. He lived out Jesus’ words, “Follow Me,” (Matthew 8:22) in a dramatic and profound way.
Saint Junípero Serra’s motto in life was: “Keep moving forward!” At his canonization in 2015, Pope Francis said this about Father Serra’s motto: “For him, this was the way to continue experiencing the joy of the Gospel, to keep his heart from growing numb, from being anesthetized. He kept moving forward, because the Lord was waiting. He kept going, because his brothers and sisters were waiting. He kept going forward to the end of his life. Today, like him, may we be able to say: Forward! Let’s keep moving forward!” (source)
I find that so inspiring! Unfortunately, at times I read the Gospel distractedly and it doesn’t take root in my heart. Or if I’m not careful, prayer can become rote and not life-changing. Or I can become complacent in my faith and forget that Jesus has a mission for each of us, that brothers and sisters in Christ need our love and the God-given gifts we have to offer.
Following Jesus and moving forward takes diligent work and, at times, sacrifice, but this is our calling! Is there an area in our faith or prayer life where we’ve grown complacent or lax? What can we do to spark that fire to follow Jesus once again? Our Lord is waiting for us.
Read more about this wonderful Saint's life here.
Bobbi Rol is a wife, mama and blogger living on the Monterey Bay in CA with her husband, teen daughter, and three rambunctious boys. When she is not dodging light sabers or stepping on Legos, she can be found outside with her family, catching a late night movie, or decorating her planner. She is a contributing author to our children's devotional prayer book, Rise Up. You can find out more about her here.