Mothering Sunday

Mothering Sunday

Also known as Refreshment Sunday or Lætare Sunday, Mothering Sunday originally had nothing to do with our earthly mothers.

In early times the Mass for the fourth Sunday of Lent began ‘Be glad’ (Lætare)(Isaiah 66.1) and psalm 122 was used as the gradual: ‘I was glad’. The epistle for the day is that of Paul to the Galatians which speaks, in chapter 4, of Hagar, the slave wife, and Sarah, the free wife. Because Christ has died for us, our mother is the free woman. The Gospel tells the story of the feeding of the five thousand so this can be a day for special food such as the Simnel Cake. Thus the fourth Sunday in Lent is a day of gladness and refreshment in the middle of Lent.

The term “Mother” refers to the mother church or cathedral. The bishop at the cathedral has the “cure”, or care, of souls in the diocese but she/he devolves this responsibility to the parish priest. The Bishop conveys this obligation at the collation (part of the institution and induction service): ‘receive the Cure of Souls which is both yours and mine’. This nurturing aspect of the calling to the priesthood is like that of a caring parent. To acknowledge the importance of the caring aspect of the Bishop, people would make a pilgrimage to their cathedral on the fourth Sunday in Lent. This activity was called ‘mothering’.

As time went on, people went to their local church, where they had been baptized, rather than the mother (cathedral) church, which was often a distance away. Later servants were given this day to visit their home to see their mother. Giving flowers or gifts to our mothers is now a tradition for Mothering Sunday. 

All of these facets make the day special and meaningful for us.



Heavenly Father, we rejoice with thanks for all those
who have mothered us in our lives.
In a world that is broken and in need of your motherly love,
please use us to aid others as you do us
in providing comfort, nurture, protection and support.
We ask that you grow us as carers to those who need us,
so that we might celebrate your goodness together
even through our own brokenness. Amen.


Prayers of Intercession:

We give thanks for the Church, our mother,
who brought us to birth in the family of Christ,
through the waters of baptism.
We pray that all Christians will hear again God’s call
to mother those in need, and bring them home to God.
Lord, in your mercy.
Hear our prayer.

We pray for all those in authority in our nation and in our world.
May they learn from the example of Jesus Christ
that true power is the power to feed the poor and the hungry,
to make a home for the homeless and to offer hospitality to the broken-hearted.
Lord, in your mercy.
Hear our prayer.

We pray for our own community.
May we see each other as brothers and sisters,
called to sit at God’s family table together.
Let us work together for that great day
when God comes again to restore heaven and earth.
Lord, in your mercy.
Hear our prayer.

We pray for all who suffer today, in mind, body or spirit.
In particular, we pray for those who have lost a motherly presence,
and for those who have never known a mother’s love.
May they find consolation in God,
the one in whom every family on earth finds its home.
Lord, in your mercy.
Hear our prayer.

We give thanks for all who have loved us and nurtured us in faith.
May we be bold to share what we have received.
Lord, in your mercy.
Hear our prayer.

We give thanks for all those who have gone before us
into the many mansions of the Father’s home.
May we learn from them to trust God’s care and provision for us,
all the days of our life and into our death.
Lord, in your mercy.
Hear our prayer.

Final prayers:

God of Grace and compassion your son, Jesus Christ was part of a family in Nazareth.
He knew the love of a mother and of a father
and by dying on the cross brought us all together as new family.
Help us in the Christian Journey to strive for that day
when the whole of humanity is one family together in your church.

May the Lord who brought us all to birth, strengthen us for daily life.
May the Lord who provides for all our needs sustain us day by day.
May the Lord whose steadfast love is for all, send us out to live and work for others.