Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

Order 'Evolution for the Catholic Student' - Click on the image above

Thursday, May 7, 2015

California Mission Pilgrimage - 2

California Mission Pilgrimage (2)

Day Two: Holy Saturday


Mission San Gabriel

          We hit the road for real on this day and began with Mission San Gabriel, in Los Angeles.  Surprisingly, the drive was not bad and we found the large, fortress-like Mission shortly before it opened.  The uncharacteristic peace and quiet in Los Angeles gave the day a prayerful start.  San Gabriel was the first Mission we visited with a significant amount of artifacts (remembering we missed San Juan Capistrano).  So the kids really enjoyed it.  In fact, San Gabriel’s unique design and the presence of the artifacts made it one of my sons’ favorite Missions. 

          Mission San Gabriel is a parish community run by the Claretians, and we got to see the newer parish church as well.

The Father Serra statue present at all the Missions

Mission San Fernando Rey

          After San Gabriel, it was a short drive to get to Mission San Fernando.  The beauty of the Mission grounds is very impressive, considering it is located in urban Los Angeles.  There was more greenery and water on the grounds than we found at San Gabriel.  Also an active parish today, the church is quite beautiful.  You can also visit the graves of Bob Hope and his wife, buried on the Mission grounds.  The old entertainment memorabilia surrounding Mr. Hope’s life and career is fun to see.  The Mission also boasts a nice collection of religious artifacts as well.

The graves of Bob Hope and his wife

Mission San Buenaventura

          Buenaventura, the ninth Mission, was the last founded by Father Serra himself.  This Mission is located downtown on a main street, and is still used as a parish church.  Past the gift shop is a modest museum, which contains one of the wooden bells.  Buenaventura was the only Mission to use wooden bells.  Beyond the museum is a beautiful courtyard, leading to the church.  We spent less time at this Mission than the previous two we visited this day, but it was still a very nice and spiritual part of our pilgrimage.

One of the wooden bells of Mission San Buenaventura


Mission Santa Barbara

          We continued up the coast to Santa Barbara.  One nice thing is that the drive gets very beautiful at this point.  We had intended on being finished with visiting Missions for the day, but we were planning on spending two nights with my brother, who lives in Santa Barbara.  He and my mom would both be there, so we would be able to spend Easter together.  Our plan was to go to Easter Mass at Mission Santa Barbara and then tour the grounds.  My wife and I thought it might be wise to make sure we knew how to get to the Mission, in order to be sure we wouldn’t be late for Mass.  It then occurred to us that, being Easter, the Mission grounds might be closed the next day.  Sure enough, when we arrived, we found that the grounds would be closed for Easter, but that we still had enough time that day to visit the Mission.

          Mission Santa Barbara sits atop a hill and it is a beautiful sight once it comes into view.  It is easy to see how it got its nickname, “The Queen of the Missions.”  The grounds are lovely.  We found many of the cemeteries to be very interesting, as the headstones were testaments to history, and not just general history, but real individuals who contributed to the local area, and with whom we could be connected through our prayer.  The cemetery at Mission Santa Barbara is of particular interest for fans of “The Island of the Blue Dolphins,” as the main character of the novel is buried there.

Mission Santa Barbara has beautiful grounds
Day Three: Easter

          Mass on Easter was quite a treat.  First, it is beautiful to see people lined up by the hundreds to get into church.  The Mission church contains beautiful art and the traditional choir beautifully lifts minds and hearts to God.  It was a wonderful opportunity to worship Him and celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord.