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The Meaning of California Missions
By Right Rev. Bishop Conaty, of Los Angeles
In the mission celebrations which occur in California from time to time, there are two views which men take - the this-world-view and the other-world-view. In either view the missions stand out gloriously. In the first, the builders, who were the padres, are beheld as practical men possessing fine artistic sense and creative genius. From the memories of old Spain and the elemental materials at hand, the forests, the soil and sunlight, they made the original picture-building which artists since have loved to paint, and poets loved to praise. From this same viewpoint the mission builders are seen as philanthropists who selected human materials as gross as the mud from which they made the adobe brick, and from these built up a civilization that was more wonderful than all the mission-edifices which remain as monuments to their altruistic efforts.
But there is another view of the missions which must appeal especially to Catholics. Indeed it is natural to the farther-seeing Catholic eye. It is the other-world-view. It is the vision of souls. It is seen to have been the motive of every action of the master-builder padres. It is the reason for their exile here, the purpose of their sufferings, the object of their labor, the burden of their prayer, the spirit of their vocation, the poetry, art, architecture and music of their souls. The one aim in life was the salvation of souls.
- The Monitor.