Lenten Lilies for Mothering Sunday

One of the joys of my return from hospital has been seeing the changes in the garden, albeit viewing them from a safe distance indoors. Daffodils, especially wild daffodils (the Lenten Lilies of the title), remind me of some of the ambiguities of Laetare or Mothering Sunday.

We celebrate today as a feast of joy and motherhood, sometimes descending into sentimentality, sometimes becoming so abstract that we forget that actual motherhood is hard work — frequently, smelly and tiring. The token bunch of daffs dutifully handed over to Mum may be exactly that: tokenism, but sincerely meant and with a beautiful face to it. However, to see the Church as Mother, which is what the Church herself invites us to do, is, I think, increasingly difficult because so many have experienced hurt at her hands. There is no token bunch of daffs that will quite bridge the gap between expectation and reality. Is there any way to make sense of this?

I find my own answer in the garden. The wild daffodils I like so much are planted in soil. They grow out of the Herefordshire mud and loam. For most of the year they are unseen, lying deep in the earth. They bloom briefly yet brilliantly. So with the Church. She is flawed because she is made up of flawed creatures like you and me, but she is also shot through with grace, with truly infinite possibilities we may see only rarely. She shares in the muckiness of ordinary motherhood, as she also shares its glories.

Today, let us pray for all mothers, living or dead, for those who feel they’ve failed, those who don’t understand the concept of motherhood, those who need to be set free, and for our mother the Church.

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16 thoughts on “Lenten Lilies for Mothering Sunday”

  1. So glad to hear that you are home and able to enjoy the sight of the garden, and make it illustrate your message so beautifully.

  2. Dear Sister Catherine, welcome back from hospital and thank you for these wise, succinct and heart felt words. None of us can imagine what a struggle is your daily life at present. Much like our dear Saviour’s forty days in the wilderness.
    May the good Lord bless and care for you and bring you much needed relief from the pain and distress of your illness. Peace, love and joy be with you now and always.

  3. Thank you. It’s lovely to see you back with us, albeit on low (ish) throttle. It’s so true about the church – either side of the Tiber – and this blog helps restore hope and a sense of proportion. Good to know your wild daffs are doing so well, and may you do so too, with some rest and care!

  4. I am so happy for you that you are home, and for us too, as your wise words have never been more needed. This is a beautiful post and I am looking at my lovely hand-picked (garden) daffodils from my daughter and grandchildren in a new light this morning. Thank you.

  5. Thank you Sr Catherine for a lovely and thought provoking reflection. I’m so glad you are on the mend and back home with your community. So good to ‘hear’ your voice again, exhorting and challenging us to reflect beyond the externals to the deeper meanings. Bless you.

  6. Welcome hone Sister Catherine and thank you for an engouraging and thought provoking piece.
    God Bless you and may you continue to make good progress. Amen

  7. Welcome back from hospital. We have missed you! Thank you for another thought provoking message. I have been praying today for all those who have lost their mothers in this past year, this must be such a difficult day for them. Then I look out of the window and see the daffodils blowing in the wind, a message of hope.

  8. I love it that you don’t run from the truth but give us hope: “but she is also shot through with grace, with truly infinite possibilities we may see only rarely.”

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