What a fabulous day I've had. After morning prayer and Mass at my church I gathered with three friends and one of our priests who to our delight had been willing to join us on his day off. We drove down to San Juan Capistrano to check out the mission, then drove to the San Diego Natural History Museum to take in the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit, then went straight to the Mission Basilica of San Diego de Alcala and explored that, then stayed for evening Mass in the mission church, then had dinner and went home. I doubt I'll find time to type all I thought of the three sites, so let this sum it up: it was interesting!
The company was as much a part of the fun as were the destinations. We prayed the Angelus at noon, and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3 PM, and midday and evening prayer as the sun was setting, and the Rosary in the car both driving there and driving back, and were just generally very Catholic all day (except perhaps towards the end of the drive home when we three girls in the back seat became very tired and hence a bit silly...) It was just like a one-day pilgrimage.
The San Diego mission turned out to be my favorite part of the trip. San Juan Capistrano was crowded with kids on school trips and volunteers and other visitors, but at the San Diego mission we were almost the only ones there. We wandered around in the twilight just absorbing the history of the place. As with all the grand old churches I saw in Mexico, I found it both thrilling and comforting to be at a site that has great significance in the Catholic past and at the same time is still a living parish. (Boy, if that kind of thing inspires me I really ought to go to Rome.) There was a new chapel on the grounds that housed a fabulous old altar and throne and choir stalls, all from the 1300's, carved of wood and brightly decorated. There's adoration in that chapel every month. Father told us the choir stalls are like the ones they use in the Carthusian monastery where he spent a few years; there's another example of something being really old and also current. In the last light of day we went to the beautiful garden in the central courtyard and settled down to pray the Hours. ("BYOB," someone said as we left the car. I had to think about it before I realized that meant "Bring your own breviary.") I've done morning prayer often enough but never midday and evening prayer; the readings are altered to suit the time of day so it was interesting to find a different tone in the Office than I'm used to.
Now I'm exhausted, but you know, it's a good tired.