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Papa Francis The First | His Holiness Papa Francisco

Nobody Doesn’t Love Serra...

Among all the announcements around Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to the United States, one of the most exciting for Franciscan-minded people was the unveiling of plans to canonize American missionary Junipero Serra. While my fellow residents of the USA might tend to think that Christianity has been here forever, we were described as a “mission field” by the Church until 1908. Though the early Puritans and waves of immigrants from predominantly Catholic countries take the credit for the ingrained nature of Christianity in the nation, a great number of people came to the faith through the work of missionaries in what was to become the United States. Many of these tireless proclaimers of the Gospel were Spanish and Franciscan, like our brother Junipero.

But the history of the missions in the West is not an unambiguous success. Even the most well-intentioned often brought disease along with the Gospel, and many missionaries were, like ourselves, products of their culture and chronology. What was hailed as heroism in the eighteenth century is sometimes found to be short of the mark in the twenty-first. And one shudders to imagine how future generations will think of what we cherish as our best accomplishments.

Perhaps in choosing Serra for canonization, Pope Francis is signaling that even sainthood, while for saints, is not for the perfect. God alone is perfect and we can only do our best to follow God’s will as we understand it. In the economy of salvation, maybe there are points for trying.

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Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee, freedigitalphotos.net.

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"And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome, which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood.

I will now give my blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will."

-Papa Francis quote

He does not know you, yet he prays for you.
He will most likely never meet you, yet he loves you.

This is your chance to show your love, for as the Bible teaches, "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven."