Let us pray (in silence) [that we may be refreshed and nourished by Christ]
whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world:
Evermore give us this bread,
that he may live in us,
and we in him;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
This is a collect by F.B. MacNutt (The Prayer Manual, London 1952 No. 488). Today is Refreshment Sunday, marking the half-way point in the season from the first Sunday in Lent. The tradition of visiting the mother church of the diocese on this day, and of apprentices and servants visiting their parents, also led to it being called "Mothering Sunday". It is also called Laetare Sunday from the introit, and this joyful pause (Laetare is Latin for "Rejoice") in the Lenten discipline can be marked by rose vestments.
This is the introit:
Laetare Ierusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam: gaudete cum laetitia, qui in tristitia fuistis: ut exsultetis, et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestrae.
Rejoice, Jerusalem! Be glad for her, you who love her; rejoice with her, you who mourned for her, and you will find contentment at her consoling breasts. See Isaiah 66:10-11
Natural images of light, and sight, and bread, and mother, and father - abound as we reach this half-way point to the renewal of our baptism and the celebration of the Easter sacraments with those who will be baptised then. Easter draws near. The paschal mystery holds all these images together - but we humanly can only hold each image one at a time. We pick up an image at a time in our preparation.
• Introduction and context for readings Lent 4, 2 March 2008 (not just a summary)