The nomenclature of the feast of mothers leaves me confused. I'm not sure if the difference between Mothers' Day and Mothering Sunday is that one is American and the other British, or one secular and the other religious.
Anybody who has had the privilege of knowing members of the Filipino community in Cambridge (the city's St Philip Howard's church has been called Little Manila) will know that they celebrate Mother's Day as religiously as any Holiday of Obligation. It leaves you with a renewed appreciation of the feast; but it's a time of year that can bring as much upset as it can peace.
Mothers' Day at St Gallicus was a happy affair that saw the first reading subsequently dramatised preceded by the children, which ended up with the teenage daughter of a two-year-old Pharaoh rescuing a plastic Moses from a basket. At the close of ther service all the mothers in the congregation were presented with little potted primroses, with enough left over so that everybody was abe to leave with one.
At home, Minora had put a lamb joint in the oven, and Minima prepared the veg while I divested the table of a week's accretion of books, homework and other things we'd decided we needed to keep but couldn't quite remember why.
A sobering note came during dinner when we heard on the radio news of Children's Commissioner Dr Maggie Atkinson's cynically-timed announcement that murdered toddler Jamie Bulger's killers Jon Venables and Robert Thomson, both 10 at the time of the slaughter, would never have stood trial today under the change she wishes to implement to the minimum age of criminal responsibility, raising it from 10 to 12.
Calling Dr Atkinson's comments twisted and insensitive, Jamie's mother, Denise Fergus, called for an apology to be followed by her either jumping or being pushed from the post. Doubtlessly we'll hear more of the affair, as Mrs Fergus is due to meet Justice Secretary Jack Straw this week to discuss Venables' arrest, rumoured to be connected with child pornography.
Minima volunteered to wash up, while Maxima and I listened to Johnny Walker's Sounds of the 70s show on Radio 2, then we got the laptop out for something that, to be honest, I think we'd been avoiding.
Aled Jones came to fame as a choirboy singing most famously Walking in the Air from The Snowman, and now, as well as pursuing a singing career, presents Christian programmes on TV and radio. On this morning's Good Morning Sunday Mothers' Day special, he'd interviewed Kate McCann, whose daughter Madeleine was taken from the family's holiday apartment in Portugal.
At times her voice seemed on the verge of cracking - and we were close to tears - as Kate told how she thinks of Madeleine every day and prays for her captors: her Parish Priest has given her a key to the church. She said that "every day is the same without Madeleine", so Mothers' Day brings both comfort and pain. When Jones asked her if she could forgive the people who took her daughter, she paused then said "I don't know". It was, I think, the most searingly honest point in an excoriating interview.
I was pleasantly surprised that the programme emphasized the religious aspect of Mothers' Day - Jones played Taverner's Hymn to the Mother of God, performed by the Choir of St George's Chapel, and an unexpected treat: Hymn to Mary by Beth Nielsen Chapman. It was interesting that Taverner composed his hymn in remembrance of his mother: this was the motivation for Paul McCartney's Let it Be, with the meditation on a line of the Prayer to Our Lady of Lourdes - priez pour ceux qui aiment et sont partis (pray for those who love and are parted) - in the middle two verses.
And the best prayer that I can send up to the mother of God on this day for Denise Fergus and Kate McCann and their families concerns the situation which many mothers have to face as regards their children, albeit hopefully in happier circumstances: pray for those who love and are parted.