“Relying on the divine power of the message he proclaimed, Father Serra led the native peoples to Christ. He was well aware of their heroic virtues—as exemplified in the life of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha [July 14]—and he sought to further their authentic human development on the basis of their new-found faith as persons created and redeemed by God. He also had to admonish the powerful, in the spirit of our second reading from James, not to abuse and exploit the poor and the weak.”
"Always to go forward and never to turn back." He is known for saying: "All my life I have wanted to be a missionary. I have wanted to carry the gospel message to those who have never heard of God and the kingdom he has prepared for them."
Friar Serra was imbued with a penitential spirit and practiced austerity in sleep, eating, and other activities. During his preaching, he would frequently enact harsh bodily penance, for the conversion and inspiration of his listeners. As described by his biographer, Palau, on one occasion:
“Imitating his devout San Francisco Solano, he drew out a chain, and letting his habit fall below his shoulders, after having exhorted his auditory to penance, he began to beat himself so cruelly that all the spectators were moved to tears, and one man rising up from among them, went with all haste to the pulpit and took the chain from the penitent father, came down with it to the platform of the presbiterio, and following the example of the venerable preacher, he bared himself to the waist and began to do public penance, saying with tears and sobs, ‘I am the sinner, ungrateful to God, who ought to do penance for my many sins, and not the father who is a saint.’ So cruel and pitiless were the blows, that, in the sight of all the people, he fell down, they supposing him to be dead. The last unction and sacrament were administered to him there, and soon afterward that he died. We may believe with pious faith, that this soul is enjoying the presence of God.”
Their apostolic labors having been finished, they were upon their way back, and at the end of a few days’ journey, when the sun was about to set, they knew not where to spend the night, and considered it certain that they must sleep upon the plain. They were thinking about this when they saw near the road a house, whither they went and solicited lodging. They found a venerable man, with his wife and child, who received them with much kindness and attention, and gave them supper. In the morning, the Fathers thanked their hosts, and taking leave, pursued their way. After having gone a little distance they met some muleteers, who asked them where they had passed the night. When the place was described, the muleteers declared that there was no such house or ranch near the road, or within many leagues. The missionaries attributed to Divine Providence the favor of that hospitality, and believed without doubt that these hosts were Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, reflecting not only about the order and cleanness of the house (though poor), and the affectionate kindness with which they had been received, but also about the extraordinary internal consolation which their hearts had felt there.”
God most High,
your servant Junipero Serra
brought the gospel of Christ
to the peoples of Mexico and California
and firmly established the Church among them.
By his intercession,
and through the example of his apostolic zeal,
inspire us to be faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
Year 2: Day 182 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Zeal for the work of God; Safety and success of missionaries.
Requested Intentions: For a family experiencing a difficult child custody case (M); Reunification of a family struggling with separation (M): For a son struggling with mental illness (M); Successful examination results (B); To be freed from the chains of sin (J); Admission to a good university (M); For successful surgery (T); For a mother’s mental health and for kindness and forgiveness, for housing problems, for dental health (T); For the soul of a departed friend (X); Restoration of health (D); Successful employment for couple (N); For employment for children (K); For health of friend, for successful relationships for children, for safe pregnancy for daughter (C); For the health of a mother (J); Virtue for daughter (V); Successful acceptance to college for nephew (M); For the health of a cousin (T); Freedom from legal difficulties for husband (S); Husband’s freedom from illness (L).