One event that is often highlighted in publications focusing on Catholic rural life is the Rogation Days procession. The Litany of the Saints and Psalms that are used pray for all sorts of things that are not limited to agriculture, but the image of a cross leading a procession amidst fields and flocks is the one that sticks in people’s minds. Rogation Days are named for the Latin verb rogare, “to ask,” and are observed with solemn procession while singing the Litany of Saints, the Penitential Psalms, and several other prayers for God’s blessings and deliverance from evil. Fasting, abstaining from meat, and other forms of penance are also encouraged on these days.
The Major Rogation, on April 25 each year, is likely the earliest one observed, probably to counteract and replace the pagan Roman festival of Robigalia, held on the same date with public games and the sacrifice of a dog to the false god Robigus for the protection of grain fields from disease. Rogation Days retain this agricultural connection, and besides the Litany and procession, the blessing of fields and flocks became customary in many places on these days. The Minor Rogations (held on the three days leading up to Ascension Thursday) were introduced around the year 470 in France by St. Mamertus, bishop of Vienne, and observance spread out from there, eventually extending to the whole Church. Both the Major and Minor Rogations came to be observed in the same ways.
We’ll plan to have a procession in Hoven this Tuesday, following the 5:15 pm Mass. The procession should start close to 5:50 pm. We’ll plan a few more during the Minor Rogations as we get closer to those. Another tradition that developed with Rogation Days was called “beating the bounds,” to actually make a procession along the parish boundaries, but considering that these two parishes have a perimeter of approximately 210 miles, from the Missouri River up to Hillsview, we’ll probably just be making the procession around the block instead. Please plan to join us this Tuesday as we ask God’s blessings and protection upon our world, our parishes, families, and growing season.