We are currently in the time of the Traditional Calendar known as Rogation days. “Excuse me, what?” some of you are probably saying. Well, I’ll tell you. The Rogation days are celebrated on April 25 (Major Rogation) and the week before Ascension Day (Minor Rogation). Traditionally, they are days of fasting and prayer; the great litany is to be sung or said, along with Psalms and petitions. The word Rogation comes from the Latin word “rogare” which means “to ask”. On Rogation days, we are to ask God’s mercy and blessing upon us and the fields and fruits of the earth.
The festival of Rogation was first established in Gaul by the Bishop Mamertus of Vienne around 470. They became annual events by the 500’s and Pope Gregory I made them official festival days. The Rogation days were likely established to counteract and replace pagan rites held around the same time. The Minor Rogation days are no longer celebrated by many in the Roman Church, though traditional Roman Catholics still celebrate them
They were very popular days in England in the Middle Ages, where they were associated with agriculture. There, the parish priest was expected to “beat the bounds”, meaning to process around the village, blessing the fields and the crops, saying or singing the litany, and asking God’s protection for the coming season. Rogation days are still part of the official Book of Common Prayer and some priests still beat the bounds to this day.
So how does one celebrate Rogation days? Prayer and fasting are helpful and traditional. You can say the great litany from the Book of Common Prayer, or other prayers. You can pray for God’s protection on the crops and the farmers this season. You can ask God’s blessing on the land, and those who work on it. You can read the Psalms and maybe do a prayer walk around your town or neighborhood.