When I first saw Sam walking with his mother by Planned Parenthood in his blue superhero shirt, he was waving to people as they drove by with a big smile on his face. His kindness and love were evident.
I decided to talk with Sam and his mother. When I approached Sam, I asked him about his superhero shirt. He said God is our real hero. What a good answer that was! Sam’s mother Kathleen told me that he has Down Syndrome and shared with me how much love he brings to her life. I asked Kathleen, “Do you know how it says in Psalms (Psalm 8:5) that we are a little less than angels?” After she responded, “Yes,” I shared with her that Sam and others like him with Down Syndrome seem closer to angels than the “average” person. They often show a deep genuine concern for others and a humble detachment from the world. The love received from them softens hearts.
Kathleen said her husband thought if Sam went to a University it would have to be “Love U.”
Let’s imagine this university for a moment. Imagine their motto being: “Love, love, love, and remember that you were loved even before you were created,” as St. Catherine of Siena once said. (Sigrid Unset, Catherine of Siena, Ignatius Press, 2009, p. 158).
Students would learn the ways of love and happiness. They would learn to turn away from a culture of self-love and embrace a culture wrapped up in the love of God. They would learn how self-love leads to fear and unhappiness, and that the love of God, the love of neighbor, leads to enduring love.
St. Catherine would speak to them in her most wise words, \”A soul which is full of slavish fear cannot achieve anything that is right, whatever the circumstances may be, whether it concerns small or great things… This fear is born of the blindness of self-love, for as soon as a human being loves himself with the self-love of the senses he learns fear, and the reason of this fear is that it has given its hope and love to fragile things that have neither substance nor being and vanish like the wind…\” (ibid., p. 155).
Sam would excel at “Love U”. He has been blessed with a great gift, a gift to love others. What a gift it was to meet him!
Kathleen told me about an article she had read that stated a high percentage of babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted. How tragic! In fact, in countries such as Iceland, nearly all of the Down Syndrome babies are aborted. Kathleen didn\’t need to tell me how troubling this high abortion rate was for her because I could see the anguish she felt for these preborn children on her face.
When Kathleen expressed how much Sam loved his job, happiness returned to her face. She shared with me excitedly how Sam was teaching himself how to speak Spanish to be able to use it at work. There is little doubt that most if not all of the employees and customers have a truly heartfelt love for Sam.
If “Love U” existed, I think it would be fitting to bestow an honorary doctorate in “Love” on Sam and others who have a special love for others (“Dr. Sam,” as I like to think of him). A “Doctor of Love” standing by the walls of death to save the children from a terrible fate: a superhero in his own special way; a walking witness of joy and hope for all who pass by.
Before I left and said goodbye we shared a few laughs and smiles, and Sam said something very serious. He pointed towards the Planned Parenthood building and stated: “There is no victory here.” There can never be victory without love.
Sam: What a gift—a person with great love!