Rogation Days are traditionally observed on the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Ascension Day (May 25 this year), though in practice they may be observed on other days. Here at Holy Apostles we will mark them a day early this coming Sunday. Mamertus, Bishop of Vienne, France, is credited with originating the tradition of fasting and prayer in the 5th century — the goal was to prepare for the feast of the Ascension and to beseech God to forestall any impending calamities. (The word “rogation” comes from the Latin rogare, meaning “to ask.”) Farmers would often have their crops blessed by a priest at this time.
In England, Rogation Days evolved to be associated with the blessing of the fields before planting. The vicar and parishioners would process around the boundaries of the parish, reciting psalms and the litany — this is referred to as “beating the bounds.” (It sounds a bit exhausting!) In the United States, the observance is associated with rural life, especially agriculture and fishing.
After the 11 am service on Sunday we will process outside where the Church School children will plant some new plants, and we will pray for and bless our beautiful garden! In addition, on the traditional Rogation Days themselves (the following Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday), you might add a few prayers for creation into your regular prayer devotions. It’s a good time to peruse the wonderful resource we have in the Prayers and Thanksgivings section of our Book of Common Prayer (pp 809-841). Particularly appropriate choices might be Thanksgivings 1, 8, 9 and Prayers 1, 29, 34, 38, 40-44. Prayers for our wise stewardship of creation might be especially warranted – see Prayer 41 (p 827):
For Conversation of Natural Resources
Almighty God, in giving us dominion over things on earth you made us fellow workers in your creation: Give us wisdom and reverence so to use the resources of nature, that no one may suffer from our abuse of them, and that generations yet to come may continue to praise you for your bounty; through Jesus Christ our Lord.