17 March 2009

Mothering Sunday

(The historical facts can be discovered on Wikipedia.) Before I retired happy to the baroque ultamontane fortress of S Thomas's, while I was for six years an (equally happy) middle-of-the-road country parson in Devon with seven happy churches (well, one was redundant and one was not always happy: let's say five-and-a-half), I used to meditate on the paradox that Mothering Sunday, Midlenting, Refreshment, Laetare Sunday, having emerged from the Christian liturgy (specifically, from the Galatians reading found in the Book of Common Prayer and the 1962 Missal) had now been so secularised, as Mother's Day, that the problem was to reChristianise it. Wild in a lawless frenzy, I sometimes did Children's Masses with our Lady of Sorrows as the theme.

Because there are things you can do with Mothering Sunday. Take the passion common folk have for getting the kiddies to run around doing things with flowers on this day. I used to harness that to explain that we each have three Mothers:
our Mother Mary;
our Holy Mother the Church; and
our own Mother kata sarka (I can't remember now if I used that exact phrase).
So I had the tinies take bunches of flowers to a nice ikon, hand-painted in Thessalonika, of the Theotokos (a leaving present to me from the Classics Department at Lancing), and arrange them there. Then to the font, where I explained to the congregation (without, I think, actually quoting the Fathers) that this was the womb from whose waters they were born to new life. And, finally, to their Mothers.

I thought it seemed to work. But I expect they all thought I was mad.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine you as a middle-of-the-road country parson.

Maybe it's a shame Mothers' Day doesn't fall later in the year to coincide with the American celebration, thus freeing up Mothering Sunday. Mind you, at least the status quo reflects a Christian heritage, no matter how distant.