Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Our First US Hispanic Saint

Ad honórem Sanctǽ et Indivíduǽ Trinitátis, ad exaltatiónem fídei cathólicæ et vitæ christiánæ increméntum, auctoritáte Dómini nostri Iesu Christi, beatórum Apostolórum Petri et Páuli ac Nostra, matúra deliberatióne præhábita et divína ope sǽpius imploráta, ac de plurimórum Fratrum Nostrórum consílio, Beátum Iuníperum Serra Sanctum esse decérnimus et definímus, ac Sanctórum Catálogo adscríbimus, statuéntes eum in univérsa Ecclésia inter Sanctos pia devotióne récoli debére. In nómine Patris et Fílii et Spíritus Sancti.

(For the honor of the Blessed Trinity, the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the increase of the Christian life, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own, after due deliberation and frequent prayer for divine assistance, and having sought the counsel of many of our brother Bishops, we declare and define Blessed Junípero Serra to be a Saint and we enroll him among the Saints, decreeing that he is to be venerated as such by the whole Church. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.)

That's what infallibility sounds like!

And what a glorious day it has been for the Catholic Church in America, as Pope Francis definitively defined that the great California missionary Junípero Serra, who represents that state in the U.S. Capitol's Statuary hall (photo) is - and henceforth shall be venerated as - a Saint. Saint Junípero (1713-1784) founded 21 missions in California between 1769 and 1782, from which would develop some of that state's major cities, such as San Francisco, Santa Clara, Santa Barbara, and San Diego. As the Prophet Isaiah said, in the reading proclaimed at this afternoon's canonization Mass: How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, and saying to Zion, Your God is King!

Saints are our brothers and sisters in Christ, made exemplars and intercessors through the power of God's grace working in and through them for the building up of God's kingdom. In his homily at this afternoon's Mass of canonization, Pope Francis warned against apathy. "What can we do," he asked, "to keep our heart from growing numb, becoming anesthetized? How do we make the joy of the Gospel increase and take deeper root in our lives? His answer: mission. "A Christian finds joy in mission: Go out to people of every nation! A Christian experiences joy in following a command: Go forth and proclaim the good news!"

In Saint Junípero Serra, we have an exemplar of such a life. Saint Junípero "was the embodiment of 'a Church which goes forth', a Church which sets out to bring everywhere the reconciling tenderness of God. Junípero Serra left his native land and its way of life. He was excited about blazing trails, going forth to meet many people, learning and valuing their particular customs and ways of life. He learned how to bring to birth and nurture God’s life in the faces of everyone he met; he made them his brothers and sisters."

The Pope concluded his homily by invoking the new saint's motto: siempre adelante ("Keep moving forward!) amd proposing it for the church today.

"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!"

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