Next week sees three Rogation Days. Rogation days are days set aside to observe the change in the seasons and are tied to spring planting. The ones which fall next week, known as the Minor Rogations, are celebrated on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday immediately before Ascension Day, which falls on Thursday.
Rogation days are intended to be days of prayer, which also used to include fasting, and were instituted by the Church as a time of penitence for our sins, to ask God’s protection against calamities and to pray for a good and bountiful harvest.
The word comes from the Latin “rogare”, which means “to ask”; and the primary purpose of Rogation Days was, and is, to ask God to bless the fields and the Parish that they fall in.
Rogation Days used to be marked by the recitation of the Litany of the Saints and, after Our Lady had been invoked, the congregation would walk the boundaries of the parish (Beating the Bounds) whilst reciting the rest of the Litany, sometimes with the addition of verses from the psalms.
In this way, the entire parish would be blessed, the boundaries of the parish marked, and the procession would end with a Rogation mass.
Although this tradition has largely lapsed these days, it is good, nonetheless, to remind ourselves of how the Church’s liturgical year is tied to the changing seasons.
You may like to celebrate Rogation Days by yourself, by reciting the Litany of the Saints and, although be might be too much to walk round the whole parish, you could perhaps have a prayer walk round a portion of the boundary, or simply by remembering all who live in that area and praying for good weather and a fruitful harvest.
On Friday 14th the Church remembers St Matthias. He was the disciple chosen by lot to replace Judas Iscariot, but apart from that very little is known about him. Like many of Christ’s followers, he was not famous, so his Feast is an appropriate day to remember all unsung faithful followers of Christ and give thanks for them.
Matthias is also the patron saint of alcoholics, so please pray for all who are suffering from this illness, for their families and friends, and for the work of AA and Al Anon.
My love and prayers,
The image is a medieval (12th century) Byzantine fresco in a Cappadocian rock-cut church at Göreme depicting Jesus Christ with the twelve apostles. Creative Commons CC0 License