ROGATION DAYS


Rogation Days are an old religious custom which is now seldom observed in the Church, and many persons have not even heard of them. Anglican parishes sometimes still observe them. The word "rogation" comes from the Latin rogare, which means "to ask," and the Rogation Days are four days set apart to bless the fields, and ask for God's mercy on all of creation. The primary purpose of the Rogation Days is to ask God to bless the fields and the parish (the geographic area) that they fall in. A secondary purpose was to bless the main boundary markers of each parish, in towns as well as rural areas.

Rogation Days are days of prayer and fasting, instituted by the Church to appease God's anger at man's transgressions, to ask protection in calamities, and to obtain a good and bountiful harvest. They are set aside to remind us how dependent we are on the earth and her resources, and how prayer can help protect us from nature's often cruel ways. On these days, customs involved the congregation going in procession to "beat the bounds" i.e. to mark and establish the boundaries of the parish - while also blessing the trees, stones and fields while chanting or reciting a Litany of the Saints. In modern times, the actual purpose of "beating the bounds" - to impress the boundaries of the village on everyone's mind - has ceased to be necessary due to modern surveying techniques, and the practice is largely ceremonial.

The customary practice these days is to pray for fruitful seasons on Monday, commerce and industry on Tuesday, and stewardship of creation on Wednesday. As the world has become more industrialized, Rogation Days as well as Ember days, focused as they are on agriculture and the changes of the seasons, have seemed less relevant. Still, they are good ways to keep us in touch with nature and to remind us that the Church's liturgical calendar is tied to the changing seasons.

Rev'd Fr. Colin Humes