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What? Rogation?


Blessing of the wheatfields and Artois. Jules Breton.

You may never have heard of Rogation Days unless you grew up in a farming or fishing community. They are very much a part of our heritage and speak to our modern lives as well.

They always fall on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of the week of the Feast of the Ascension, which means they move around, depending on the date of Easter. Ascension Day is always 40 days after Easter so they are easy to find on the calendar.

When I was growing up, between the ages of 8 and 11, I was in a Church of England school which means that, on Ascension Day, we would all walk the mile or so to the Church for a service and then we allowed to go home for the rest of the day. A treat not afforded to our friends in non-Church schools. I think that has changed now, but for many years Ascension Day was a holiday, giving it s rightful place with Easter, Christmas and Pentecost in the great feasts of the Church.

I digress. The Rogation Days started as days of prayer and fasting for the fields to produce fruitful yield at harvest. On Ascension Day the whole village would turn out and the priest would “beat the bounds” of the Parish, thus, they believed, setting a sort of wall against the evil spirits of famine and bad weather.

This practice continues on many rural communities . In England urban Churches will still “beat the bounds” as a blessing, not so much for fields and crops, but for industry, retail and businesses which occupy space within their boundaries.

In Shelby it would be very difficult to “beat the bounds” as we really do not have parish boundaries and if we split the difference between us and the Churches in Gastonia and Rutherfordton we might spend several days walking around our area.

However, to pray God’s blessing on our places of work, on where we are each day whether we are at home or away, is a good thing. Perhaps today, also, pray for blessing on places where the garbage collectors, the grocery store employees and all those others who you will come into contact with work. Perhaps go even further, pray for places where those who grow the coffee, tend the children and harvest the tomatoes work. God’s blessing, raining down on factories and train stations, offices, homes and hospitals – now that is a great thing to pray for.

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