Easter is on it’s way But not yet. This edition of the Parish Magazine will be available on Sunday 31st March, the 4th Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday, which means ‘Rejoice!’ That is taken from the entrance antiphon of the Eucharist “Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow…” We don’t use a plainsong entrance antiphon at the beginning of our Sung Eucharsist at 10.30am because it is replaced by an ‘entrance’ or ‘introit’ hymn. We do say it at the said Eucharist at 8.00am.
The 4th Sunday of Lent is more widely known in Anglican circles as ‘Mothering Sunday’ although this custom is relatively recent. It is NOT ‘Mothers Day’ – that is an American invention and normally takes place in the United States in May.
During the 16th century, people returned to their mother church for a service to be held on Laetare Sunday; in this context, one’s ‘mother church’ was either the church where one was baptised, or the local parish church, or the nearest cathedral (the latter being the mother church of all the parish churches in a diocese). Anyone who did this was commonly said to have gone “a-mothering”, although whether this term preceded the observance of Mothering Sunday is unclear.
In later times, Mothering Sunday became a day when domestic servants were given a day off to visit their mother church, usually with their own mothers and other family members. It was often the only time that whole families could gather together, since on other days they were prevented from doing so by conflicting working hours.
The Church reflects, of course on our earthly mothers, with love, gratitude and thanksgiving, and people mark this with special treats or favours to their mums.
More widely, the Church reflects on the motherhood of the church who gives us new life through baptism, grace and the life of faith.
We also reflect and give thanks to our heavenly Mother Mary, the mother of all Christians of whatever type or denomination (whether they acknowledge her or not!) from whom Jesus our Saviour and brother took His human flesh and God implanted His hypostatic nature of divinity. Hypostatic describes the union of Christ’s humanity and divinity in one hypostasis, or individual existence.
Jesus is One person with two natures – Fully God and fully human. He was not born from Mary only in His human part. He was born complete – human and divine – through the Holy Spirit and Mary. We are brothers and sisters of Jesus, so Mary is our Heavenly Mother as well.
This Sunday is also known as Refreshment Sunday, mid-Lent Sunday and Rose Sunday because among other reasons, the use of rose-colored (rather than violet) vestments was permitted on this day.
Laetare Sunday is exactly 21 days before Easter Sunday, a moveable feast based on the cycles of the moon. The next Sunday (7th April this year) is Passion Sunday, as we come closer to Jesus Passion (suffering) death and Resurrection, although just to be confusing, the following Sunday, Palm Sunday, is also known as Passion Sunday.
From the original Passion Sunday date, this year’s 7th April, the worldwide custom of veiling crosses and images takes place. It has long been the desire of the clergy of St Wilfrid’s to follow this custom. We have not possessed veiling other than for the High Altar reredos. But at last, through the skill and generous offer by Phina Gorton, we will have the veiling for this year.
It adds not only visually, but emotionally and spiritually to the sense of pathos and solemnity as we move forward to the climax of Lent. Which is Good Friday.
In the past the ‘Lenten Array’ or veiling has only been erected over the reredos of the High Altar after the Eucharist of the Lord’s Supper on Maundy Thursday, when all other crosses and images have been removed during the stripping of the Altars.
Now we have the proper veiling, instead of removing so much before Good Friday, these items will remain, but veiled. So the emphasis of ‘Stripping the Altars’ [symbolically as our Lord Himself was stripped, and the Altars are more than symbols of Jesus Himself] will be even more profound for the arrival of Good Friday.
Note too (page 34) besides the veiling (photographs of the veils will be in the May magazine), Hazel Barkworth has provided us with a very fine altar cloth for our high altar and this has been specially embroidered by her daughter Helena in America. Two wonderful gifts to St. Wilfrid’s.
There’s no real space to go much into Palm Sunday which is 14th April this year, and the beginning of Holy Week, but it is pretty much self-evident. I have covered the Easter Triduum in an article later in this magazine. So although I can’t technically wish you all a happy Easter (Saturday 20th April/Sunday 21st April), and the next Magazine is due out on Sunday 28th April (2nd Sunday of Easter) I do most sincerely wish you all a happy Easter WHEN IT COMES!
It is my earnest prayer that for the last part of this Holy Season of Lent, we may all draw closer and personally to our beloved friend and Lord, Jesus, that he may truly reign in our hearts and lives as we move forward into the exiting times ahead.
With my love and prayers,
Fr. Ray Whelan