Mothering Sunday – some background

Mothering Sunday is the Fourth Sunday of Lent. Although it is often called ‘Mothers’ Day’,  it has no connection with the American festival of that name.

Traditionally, it was a day when children, mainly daughters, who had gone to work as domestic servants, were given a day off to visit their mother and family. Today it is a day when children and adults give presents, flowers, and home-made cards to their mothers and Christians celebrate the nurturing role of the Church as our ‘Mother’, the loving Motherhood of the Virgin Mary as Mother of Jesus and Mother of all Christian believers and the unique roles of both biological and other ‘mother-figures’ in our lives as human beings today.     


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The ‘Gesimas’

According to Pope Saint Leo the Great, the forty days of fasting prior to Easter is of Apostolic origin. These forty days of Lent are a season of penance and preparation for the faithful as we prepare for the joyful commemoration of the Resurrection of Christ at Easter.

Lent is often seen as the time for ‘asceticism’ and asceticism originally referred to athletic rigour and competition. As you know, most professional sports also have a “pre-season” dedicated to preparing for the real season. Coaches know that their athletes need a few unofficial games to get back in the swing of things. It’s also a time for coaches to re-evaluate their strategies for the “real season.”

Centuries ago, the Greek (Orthodox) Churches began to anticipate the Great Lent by a lighter penitential pre-season prior to Lent. Pope Gregory the Great corresponded to this tradition and added three additional weeks of preparation prior to Ash Wednesday. These Sundays were called Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima Sundays – Latin for “seventieth, sixtieth, and fiftieth.”See More