On Sunday, May 27th, the feast of Pentecost, we attended Mass in the resort town of Playa del Carmen, Mexico, which was about a 30-minute drive from our hotel. We had inquired at the front desk about Mass times and was told there were three Masses on the weekend, but only the 10:00 Mass on Sunday was in English. It was raining when we arrived at the lovely church, Nuestra Senora del Carmen, but there was a fairly large crowd gathering. Once inside we were happy to learn that this was First Communion Day in the parish, so we knew the Mass was definitely not going to be in English!
The children -- ages from about 8 to 12 -- were precious in their white dresses and veils and dark suits and ties. They sat in the front with their families. At the Offertory, they brought up the gifts, which consisted of everything from bottles of wine to baskets of fruit and even bags of potato chips! Later when they were about to receive Communion, the pastor asked them to line up by twos. He then lit a candle from the large Pascal candle in the center of the aisle. Each child received a lit candle which they carried up in procession. All the children, and indeed the whole congregation, received the Eucharist on the tongue, not in the hand. The entire liturgy and the music were very beautiful and inspiring, but they were not the reason why God wanted Dan and me to be at that particular Mass.
Sitting directly in front of us was a young married couple, attractive and nicely dressed. They had their baby with them, who looked to be about four months old. The baby had the unmistakable signs of Down Syndrome, but appeared very alert and happy, smiling whenever his parents talked to him. Next to the mother was an older couple, which we assumed were the grandparents. They took turns holding the baby and obviously were very proud of their grandson. The father especially was so loving and solicitous of the baby. He held him and kept kissing him on his head throughout the Mass. The couple knew many people there (Sunday Mass is a very social affair in Mexico; the Kiss of Peace took nearly five minutes!) Everyone who came up to the baby made over him and said how beautiful he was, as did I. They told me the baby's name was Mauricio.
As we exited the church I saw a bulletin board with two very recognizable posters. One said, "La vida es un obsequio muy grande de Dios," (Life is God's greatest gift) and the other was a picture of an aborted ten-week old fetus. Under the picture was the caption, "La verdad sobre el aborto" (The truth about abortion.) It was obvious that the sanctity of life was being proclaimed in that parish, and at least two people had understood the message and were living it in a very real way.
Recent statistics show that when Down Syndrome is diagnosed prenatally (and such testing is now being mandated by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) approximately 85% of those babies will be killed by abortion. The legislature in Mexico recently voted to allow abortions in Mexico up to 12 weeks. Who knows? Would Baby Mauricio have been there last Sunday, if his mother had been given that advice by her physician? From what I witnessed, his parents accept and love him unconditionally. I would like to believe they would have chosen life for him, no matter what they knew beforehand.Submitted by Patty Sherrod
Labels: Down Syndrome, Mexico