He also said that He would never give a cross to anyone that the person was not able to carry with Him, with and through His graces.
He never said, though, that the cross(es) wouldn't or shouldn't hurt. After all, He hurt, He wept, He sorrowed, and He allowed others to grieve, to weep, to sigh deeply and trudge onward with a heart that was both overburdened, and yet peaceful in the midst of the onslaught of life. He further called out to all, "Come to Me, all you who are weary, for My Yoke is easy, and My burden light."
He tests us. He perfects us. He wants us to resemble Him, and He suffered more than we can possibly imagine. That Perfect Suffering is part of the Father's plan for Salvation, and we have a part to play in this symphony as well. It's neither a melody that any earthly orchestra will play, nor one that will appear someday on a CD, or audiotape. It won't be advertised as a Pay-Per-View special, like Yani or Riverdance, or the like. No, this melody goes on continuously in a Divine Orchestra, and we're as much a part of it as the angels and saints and the suffering souls in Purgatory. Without our complimentary melody, the fullness of the Father's Plan, the Redemptive Suffering of Christ, remains unfinished.
Having taken a personal vow of poverty more than seven and a half years ago, my husband and I have done what any parents would do - we've seen to our son's care, regardless of the material cost to us and to our family. In the course of just three months, we've realized, as our son's on-going care has drained what little reserves we had managed to store up in these seven and a half years, that we were faced with some really tough decisions regarding our future, regarding our ability as parents to provide the necessities of life for our sons and for ourselves, while still going forward in faith, hope and love of God.
Now, near the middle of the month of June, and our son faces yet another hospitalization because his condition is certainly not any better, and shows signs of worsening as the side effects of heavy medication are beginning to show, we realize that we are in a very real position of losing the home we are renting. We have struggled with the Social Services Department of this County and State, and have found it not only personally humiliating, but also an eye-opener in general.
At first, I must admit that I was repulsed to even be there, filling out endless paperwork, talking with caseworkers, and pleading for them to understand that we have an on-going medical emergency, that we are in need of assistance at this time, and would these people please care enough to treat us, and therefore our sons, with some dignity and respect.
We're just another case number in a seemingly endless number of case numbers. We're being made to jump through hoops, to "prove" not once or twice, but numerous times, the factual status of our financial situation. We have sat for endless hours in a crowded room, with many others in the same, or worse, situation than we are, and I've come to find that I'm praying for these other people and learning how to see Christ in them without any judgment. I'm even coming to pray for and love with Christ's love those who work in the Social Services Department, because they're victims of unjust and unfeeling laws that govern what they say and do at any given moment.
Paperwork fills my days. It's taken me more time to do this and it takes time away from the care I must give to our oldest son. It has caused me to neglect the schooling of our youngest son, and has led me to "brain burn-out" which is my humble definition of coping with one crisis, while being paper-worked to death.
Sitting in the Social Services Offices, seeking aid, has given me a very realistic picture and feeling of what "poverty" really is, what "homelessness" is, and knowing that my husband and I are faced with this real possibility in a very short time.
I have seen unreasonable men and women, even incompetent ones, sitting behind plexi-glass partitions, reviewing our application, and demanding that before our case can be granted, we will be run through hoops and rings at their beckoning. My husband, who has worked selflessly for over eight years as the Executive Director of Mir-A-Call Center, and all for Love of God, a man who has worked so many hours at this task that no one would believe the hours he's put in, a man who has always been there for me, for his sons, for his family, is now, at the not-very-young age of 55, being told by them he can no longer continue as Executive Director and Editor in a ministry for God and a ministry that has been a labor of love for him. Rather they insist he must pursue any work available and to take whatever he can find, regardless of his God-given talents. All because the ministry can no longer afford to pay him the minimum salary he has willingly agreed to for eight years, a salary that has always met standard poverty standards in the United States. Yet, we have budgeted over these eight years to eek out a living while being fulfilled, not temporarily, but spiritually rewarded. Because the apathy has squeezed this apostolate where hardly any donations are now coming in, the ministry can no longer justify a salary for him. Only through the generosity of our readers will this turn around.
Through these recent experiences with Social Service workers, I've discovered they don't care and don't understand that he, at his age, is no longer employable in this modern age and with the cry for young workers who have longevity on the job. These same Social Service workers don't care that I must be at home with our two sons, particularly for our oldest son, who needs around-the-clock care. I, too, must look for work, any work, or our application will not be considered.
It's interesting to note, rather very sad, that we have even contacted Catholic Charities to discover to our chagrin that there are no programs for families in a crisis. O, if I were a single mom, then it would be different. If I were to "divorce" my husband, making him a single parent, then it would also be different for him. But the fact that we have chosen, despite the difficulties, to love and respect our marriage vows and to fulfill our responsibilities before God toward one another and our children, doesn't count for anything in this world. In fact, when I look at the overall picture of all these "social programs," I realize that morality, the "family unit", and good old-fashioned morals and love, are not an economic bargaining chip, as they should be. Rather, I discover, to my dismay and horror, that such values and deeply felt love are a debit rather than an asset.
To Love God, to love the marriage vows, to honor your children to the point of having nothing left in the world, means nothing anymore. Well, it will always mean something to us and regardless of what lies ahead, we know Jesus will not give us a cross too great to carry. Tonight, before you go to bed, say a little prayer for our family. We'll be doing the same for you. And if you would like to help this ministry, in dire need of a transfusion, you can make a contribution by clicking on WE NEED YOUR HELP.
There had always been a hefty Indian community populating the valley, which inhabitants called Quechla. Then came European conquerors at a time when Spanish rule girdled the globe.
Accompanying the 18th-century conquistadors on their march of California conquest were Franciscan friars dedicated to spreading the Gospel. One of their footholds was on a rolling knoll overlooking a lush valley sustained by a river that empties into the Pacific Ocean just a breeze away.
Three distinct stages of evolution are visible in the development of Mission San Luis Rey.
There are its first three decades, when it flourished and became the largest and most successful self-sustaining operation in California's mission system.
Then there's its renaissance that began in the 1890's after almost a half-century of abandonment. Its reconstruction is still going on today.
It's about to enter its third phase as an historic icon becoming a successful self-marketing spiritual enterprise in the modern materialistic world.
The expedition that passed through in 1769 named the valley San Juan Capistrano and earmarked it as a site for a future mission. The site had the most important ingredient for a successful mission operation: water.
The troupe was on its way to Northern California from Mission San Diego de Alcala to establish a Spanish buffer to ward off enterprising Russians. It took almost 30 years for the friars to return because they were busy in filling missions along El Camino Real.
By the time Father Fermin Francisco de Lasuen was ready to open the 18th California mission on this site June 13, 1798, Mission San Juan Capistrano was already in place. The founding date was the Feast of St. Anthony de Padua, but the chain already had a mission named after him.
The 17th mission, San Fernando Rey de Espana, was founded a year earlier and had been named for Spain's saintly king. So, in a gesture of international amity, the mission on El Camino Real (Royal Road) between Mission San Diego de Alcala and Mission San Juan Capistrano was named after King Louis IX of France.
This was the last of the nine missions founded by Lasuen. The first nine California missions were established by Father Junipero Serra, who died four years earlier at Mission San Carlos Borromeo.
The padre responsible for the initial success of this enterprise was Father Antonio Peyri, who began supervising construction of the complex from the first day. As was the custom, he was assigned a companion - Father Jose Faura.
Apparently 29-year-old Peyri and his squad of seven soldiers assuaged the locals fears with small talk and gifts because, as Pablo Tac, a Native American historian, wrote:
During his 34 years as guardian - the longest tenure in its history - Peyri and his fellow Franciscan not only catechized and baptized the Native Americans here, but they also taught the San Luiseno tribe of Mission Indians new methods of construction and agriculture.
The mission became home to some 3,000 Native Americans. The church was completed and dedicated on the Feast of St. Francis, Oct. 4, 1815. It's the only one in the California chain with a wooden dome. The original pulpit still stands inside.
Mission San Luis Rey grew into the largest building in the Californias before it was ripped out of Spain's grasp by the emerging Mexican nation. The original adobe quadrangle covered 6 acres. And despite being deserted and cannibalized for more than a half a century, it has risen back to its pre-eminence as the largest of the 21 missions that form the backbone of California's El Camino Real.
Farms and pasture land extend 15 miles in all directions from the mission and it produced as much as 67,000 bushels of grain a year. Some 27,000 cattle and 26,000 sheep grazed here, providing the locals with meat as well as hides, wool and tallow that were traded for tools and other necessities. These exports were carted to the port at San Diego to be shipped off to Spain.
A laundry, under reconstruction in front of the church, was fed by two natural warm-water springs that the natives used for bathing and washing clothes.
Then the course of history changed. The Spaniards were ousted from Mexico in 1821. The new nation gave the Franciscans another 10 years to teach the Native Americans to read and write. Mexico began secularizing church property in the 1830's.
About this time, the giant pepper tree, the grandfather of all California's pepper trees, was planted on the mission grounds. It still stands in the quadrangle.
Peyri, to save himself the embarrassment of a lengthy farewell, sneaked off to San Diego to catch a ship back to Spain. Accompanying him was a Native American lad named Pablo Tac. Although the Native Americans were supposed to receive former mission land, not many were in a position to maintain it for more than a few years. So California Gov. Pico Pico began selling tracts of mission land to friends and family. The parcels were formed in ranchos.
One of them, the 133,440-acre Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores, was first controlled by the governor's brother-in-law. It eventually was purchased by the U.S. government and dedicated as Camp Pendleton in 1942.
Mission San Luis Rey was sold in 1846 for $2,437. The buildings were scavenged for material for other structures. Most of the 36 magnificent arches stretching west across the front of the mission collapsed. Twelve that have been reconstructed are all that remain today.
Native Americans, abandoned along with the mission, remained in the region and tended to the more than 3,000 of their ancestors buried in and around the mission.
Still buried at the mission are the bodies of Fathers Francisco Ibarra and Jose Maria Zalvidea, the last two guardians at the mission before it was sold. These two guardians - from 1837 to 1846 - were buried under the church floor to mark the end of an era. Mexico had announced the mission would be taken out of the hands of the Roman Catholic Church, and it was believed at that time that it was the end of any Franciscan connection with this or any other mission.
American and Mexican soldiers streamed through the mission during the 1840's. Then the Treaty of Hidalgo ended the Mexican-American War and California became the 34th state.
Legendary scout Kit Carson led Capt. Stephen Kearny and his troops when they established an encampment that lasted from 1846 to 1857 at the mission. They were charged with protecting the mission and its inhabitants.
Just a month before he was assassinated in April 1865, President Lincoln signed a proclamation restoring Mission San Luis Rey to the Roman Catholic bishop of Los Angeles. These documents are housed in the mission's museum.
But it took another three decades before the mission's second life began. In 1892, a group of Franciscans fleeing from persecution in their native Mexico came to the mission. These religious refugees from Zacatecas were joined by the Rev. Joseph O'Keefe, the "rebuilder of the missions," who was the guardian there for 19 years. Most of the major restoration work visible today was completed during his stewardship.
During the 1920s and '30s, the mission was the location for several motion pictures. Television's "Zorro" series was shot there during the late '50s. A celebratory Mass and fiesta pageant marked its sesquicentennial in 1948.
San Luis Rey College, which is ow the mission's retreat center with 55 bedrooms, was built in the late 1940's.
The Mission San Luis Rey Parish was re-established in the original church in 1892. Fifteen years later, the Franciscans invited the Sisters of the Precious Blood to open a school on the grounds.
The nuns opened the Academy of the Little Flower in 1928 and enlarged it in 1948. The academy closed in late 1977 when the parish was experiencing rapid growth. That same year, through the Diocese of San Diego, the parish leased the school land immediately east of the mission church and cemetery. The parish bought the property four years later. Franciscan priests continue to serve the parish for the diocese and still celebrate Saturday night Mass in the original church.
The Serra Center, where the 3,400 families in the Mission San Luis Rey Parish attend Sunday Mass, was opened in October 1996. It is also the largest conference hall in Oceanside, making the mission complex a center of community events as it was 200 years ago.