The Fourth Sunday in Lent is known by several names such as “Laetare Sunday” in the Roman Catholic tradition, and also as “Refreshment Sunday” and “Mothering Sunday” in Britain. Indeed, this Sunday is celebrated nowadays as “Mother’s Day” in the U.K.
“Laetare” means to “rejoice,” which is the first word of the introit of the Roman rite on this day. “Refreshment” refers to the Gospel reading, John 6: 1, the feeding of the five thousand.
In the epistle for this day, Saint Paul refers to the heavenly Jerusalem as “the mother of us all,” and from this the name of the Sunday was given. It was a tradition in England for servants to be released from their duties on this day so that they could return home and visit their mother church.
Of course, many of the returning service workers would also take the opportunity to visit home whereupon another tradition emerges, the baking of simnel cakes to celebrate the mid-lent family reunion. So this Sunday has a third name, Simnel Sunday.
GRANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that we, who for our evil deeds do worthily deserve to be punished, by the comfort of thy grace may mercifully be relieved; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.Book of Common Prayer
Old Testament Reading
Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her: That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory.Isaiah 66: 10-11
New Testament Reading
Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.Galatians 4: 26
Scindite corda vestra et non vestimenta vestra et convertamini ad Dominum Deum vestrum.
Ego sum flos campi, et lilium convallium.Rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God. I am a flower of the field, and the lily of the valleys.