Lætare Sunday

This Sunday is “Lætare” Sunday, which comes from the introductory antiphon of Mass “Laetare Jerusalem” shown above (meaning “O be joyful, Jerusalem”).  On this Sunday we are called to have a restrained joyfulness because we’re halfway through the pilgrimage of Lent 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 vestments 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 Jerusalem” 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.   As Pope Francis recently mentioned, it’s also a reminder to remember our own baptismal date, the day we became a child of Mother Church.

In many ways, Mothering Sunday might be a better day for Catholics to remember their own mother than 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!