My niece Mary Elizabeth, celebrating her 2nd birthday yesterday, exhibits true Laetare spirit! “Amen, I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of God” (Mt 18:3).
The Solemn Stational Mass of the Fourth Sunday of Lent
will be celebrated in the Basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme
this evening, 18 March 2007, at 18:30.
Procession with the Litany of the Saints.
Ordinary and Proper of the Mass in Gregorian Chant.
“This Basilica is so called, because Saint Helena, not only brought the True Cross there, but earth from Mount Calvary on which the Chapel or the Altar there is built—thus if there be a centre of the Church, we shall be there, when we are on earth from Jerusalem in the midst of Rome.”
John Henry Newman, Ascension Day 1847
The Church is our Mother; we were born of her womb in Baptism. She is our Mother because, as the Introit sings, she “suckles us abundantly with the breasts of her consolations” (Is 66:11). She is our Mother because she cares for us in our weaknesses, welcomes us home after every journey, and never fails to provide for us a table laden with good things.
Tea and Sweet Cake
In England, Laetare Sunday is called “Mothering Sunday” — a reference to the Introit that, while it disappeared with the abolition of the Roman Missal and the coming of the Book of Common Prayer, remained deeply anchored in the sensibility of the faithful. In the nineteenth century, it became customary on “Mothering Sunday” for employers to give servants a day off to go home and visit their mothers. A special sweet cake, called the “mothering cake” was brought along to add a festive note to teatime. Today, “Mothering Sunday” has become the British answer to the secular American “Mother’s Day.” Few realize that it originates in the Introit of Laetare Sunday.
Today is Mary Elizabeth Kirby’s 2nd birthday! She had an early birthday present this year: the birth of a new little brother, Jonah Daniel, on March 13th. As befits one born on Saint Patrick’s Day, Mary sings and dances. She is very interested in “Baby Jonah”! Vultus Christi will follow this developing story.
“There thou liest, O Rock of the Mass, most splendid of Ireland’s treasures:
an imperishable monument, telling of Ireland’s sorrow and of Ireland’s glory!
For thou, O holy Rock of the Mass, art the Calvary of Ireland.”
(W.J. Lockington, S.J., The Soul of Ireland)
Elena Maria Vidal has an excellent entry entitled “Mass Rocks and Hedge Schools.” My Grandmother Kirby told me about the Hedge Schools when I was a boy. She, being at school in Kiltoghert, Co. Leitrim, Ireland, circa 1909, attended Irish language classes after official school hours. The transmission of Irish culture and language was still, at that time, a non-official and “private” endeavour.