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Tex-Mex Mother's Day

Every Sunday mass at San Fernando cathedral in San Antonio, Texas provides an excellent opportunity to study"Tex-Mex" culture. Today, mass was like a family reunion, but only more so. Three things were celebrated. Ascension Day, a major Christina feast, falls 40 days after Easter Sunday, i.e. on a Thursday; it is usually celebrated on the following Sunday. It was the subject of a Gospel reading, but that was it. The second reason for celebration is that "we are now in May, the month devoted to the Virgin Mary". This puzzled me. The cult of the Virgin Mary seems to take the spotlight from Christ in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, hence the opposition to it in the Protestant Churches. In the Catholic calendar there are no less than 17 Marian festivals each year, five of which are major festivals, but none falls in May. May Day, now associated with labor demonstrations, but it was originally the festival of fertility (see the Maypole). I do not know when and where the month of May became the month of Mary. It may be associated with the attempt to boost her role even more, making her the co-redeemer with Christ (but she still could not become a Catholic priest!)

Mother's Day, the second Sunday in May, is a US holiday, but it seems to be taking on abroad. It was by far the main feature of the mass in San Antonio, showing how American customs have replaced traditional Mexican ones. Bishop Patricio, who often goes to jails to visit prisoners, spoke emotionally of the mothers who went there to see their sons and daughters. Father García questioned the congregation until he found the youngest baby, one month old. The mother brought it up to the chancel, where is was blessed. The mother got a present and a flower. Then the oldest mother was located, aged 102. She was brought to the chancel and likewise got a gift and a flower. Father Garcia asked how many children she had (the mire the merrier). Five, he was told, and LOTS of grandchildren. Finally, all the mothers in the congregation stood up. As we said, mass was a big, happy family affair.

Ronald Hilton - 5/12/02