Rogation Sunday

Rogation Sunday

Today is Rogation Sunday.

 

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Here is a bit of background!

Rogation days are, in the calendar of the Western Church, four days traditionally set apart for solemn processions to invoke God’s mercy. They are April 25, the Major Rogation, coinciding with St. Mark’s Day; and the three days preceding Ascension Day, the Minor Rogations.  Major Rogation The first Rogation, the Greater Litanies, was introduced as a Christian substitute for the Roman pagan celebration Robigalia, which was a special celebration to pray for crops. 

 If Easter falls on this day, the latest possible, the Rogations are transferred to Tuesday, April 27. 

 Minor Rogations The second set of Rogation days, the Lesser Litanies or Rogations, introduced about AD 470 by Bishop Mamertus of Vienne and eventually adopted elsewhere, are the three days (Rogation Monday, Rogation Tuesday and Rogation Wednesday) immediately before Ascension Thursday in the Christian liturgical calendar. The term, most frequently encountered in Roman Catholic and Anglican circles, is rarely used today. The word “Rogation” comes from the Latin verb rogare, meaning “to ask,” and was applied to this time of the liturgical year because the Gospel reading for the previous Sunday included the passage “Ask and ye shall receive” (Gospel of John 16:24). The Sunday itself was often called Rogation Sunday as a result, and marked the start of a three-week period (ending on Trinity Sunday), when Roman Catholic and Anglican clergy did not solemnize marriages (two other such periods of marital prohibition also formerly existed, one beginning on the first Sunday in Advent and continuing through the Octave of Epiphany, or 13 January, and the other running from Septuagesima until the Octave of Easter, the Sunday after Easter). The faithful typically observed the Rogation days by fasting in preparation to celebrate the Ascension, and farmers often had their crops blessed by a priest at this time, which always occurs during the spring in the Northern Hemisphere.  A common feature of Rogation days in former times was the ceremony of “beating the bounds”, in which a procession of parishioners, led by the minister, churchwarden, and choirboys, would proceed around the boundary of their parish and pray for its protection in the forthcoming year.

 

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 Churches of the Anglican Communion reformed their liturgical calendar in 1976, but continue to recognize the three days before Ascension as an optional observance.

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