From the Pastor – March 18, 2012

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” (Jn. 3:16-17)

Years ago I used to see signs in the endzone at football games saying “John 3:16.” That’s the quote above that makes up part of the Gospel reading this Sunday. It’s such a beautiful quote, and it is best read in context with the following verse, also above. It should remind us of our relationship with Jesus, in which He constantly desires to save us from this world of sin. And to that expression of love by God, I say “Rejoice!”

And so we do, because this Sunday is “Laetare” Sunday, which name comes from the introductory antiphon of Mass “Laetare Jerusalem” (“Rejoice, Jerusalem”). Even during Lent, we are called to have a restrained joyfulness because we’re halfway through our pilgrimage and getting closer to Holy Week. While we should strengthen our resolutions regarding our penitential sacrifice, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The rose colored vestments worn today testify to this special Sunday which also has several other meanings attached to it throughout the centuries. Since the Jews frequently referred to the city of Jerusalem as “Mother Jersusalem” the early Christians began referring to the Church as “Mother Church.” And since Jerusalem was mentioned in the introit, Lætare Sunday began to known as “mothering” Sunday. Years ago, in remembrance of the “Mother Church,” people often visited the church where they were baptized (their personal mother church) and even made a special effort to visited their own mothers.  In many ways, Mothering Sunday might be a better day for Catholics to remember their own mother than American Mother’s Day, which is a twentieth century innovation without a connection to our faith. So whether you’re in the church where you were baptized or not (mine is St. Francis Xavier), or whether your mother is alive or has passed away, remember that you are a child of Holy Mother Church, which was given to us by Christ as the means of our salvation. But come to think of it, it might not be a bad day to remember your Mom, and perhaps bring her some flowers. Roses, of course.

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty