Mothering Sunday – The Fourth Sunday in Lent 10th March 2013



Because it is halfway through our Lenten journey, the Fourth Sunday in Lent is sometimes called ‘Mid-Lent Sunday’.  It is traditionally a day to ease up on the Lenten discipline, hence another common name is ‘Refreshment Sunday’.  This tradition is seen in the simnel cake, and, in some churches, the wearing of rose-coloured vestments instead of purple ones.

In Latin, the name of the day is Laetare Sunday, from the opening word of the introit used on this day in the old Roman Missal: Laetare, or ‘rejoice’.

In the sixteenth century, people were encouraged to return on this day to worship in the church in which they were baptised – their ‘mother’ church.  If they still regularly worshipped at their home church, they would visit the cathedral instead, the mother church of their diocese.  Hence the name ‘Mothering Sunday’.  In the Middle Ages, this day became a time when apprentices working away from home could visit their villages and perhaps take a present to their mothers, thus giving Mothering Sunday a family as well as a religious emphasis.

Another name sometimes used is ‘Sunday of the Rose’.  Formerly, the popes would send a golden rose to Roman Catholic sovereigns, and the rose was blessed on this day.  Henry VIII of England received a golden rose on two occasions. Needless to say this was before his dispute with the pope and the separation of the Church of England from Rome!

Maybe you could use this half-way mark through Lent to give thanks to God for the blessings and the good things of life that enrich us and bring joy and delight.  Lent is not simply about ‘giving up’ but also ‘taking up.’  It’s about drawing closer to God, which can happen through refraining from certain things but also equally through engaging in certain things, like prayer, visiting a local place of beauty, visiting someone in need or being more faithful in reading the Bible.

Every blessing

Fr Mark