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Rogation days abstinence and penance begin today May 6, 2013

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Liturgical Year, Tradition, Virtue.

The Rogation days, days set aside to invoke God’s blessing on the productive farm fields and orchards of the world, and indeed all of creation, begin today and go through Wednesday.  These are also penitential days in preparation for the traditional Holy Day of Obligation of the Ascension of the Lord this Thursday.  Because Christ ascended 40 days after His Resurrection, and not 42. The_Ancient_Custom_of_Blessing_the_Fields_on_Rogation_Sunday_at_Hever,_Kent_-_geograph_org_uk_-_556094

You can learn more about the Rogation Days here and here. At one time, Eucharistic/Marian processions around village fields and ending in Benediction at the parish church were very common throughouth Christendom to honor these days.  These processions continued right up until the time of Vatican II, but are now almost totally forgotten.  One important aspect of the processions was to beg God to stay His mighty hand and calm creation, to prevent natural disasters from aflicting the various crops by which the vast majority of the people, in those days, made their livelihoods, and upon which entire regions depended for their sustenance. This was the days before worldwide commerce could ship grain (or other needed items) to one region afflicted by natural disasters from another not so afflicted, with hardly even an increase in price. Even at the turn of the 20th century, Giuseppe Sarto, the future Pope St. Pius X, struggled to keep his flock alive during bad harvests in northern Italy.  Such was mankind’s experience throughout most of our history, but today we are so spoiled and pampered by the technological marvel we’ve constructed, that many people view a constant, cheap food supply as a birthright.  But the system, while impressive, is also very fragile.  Thus, we still need much prayer and penance.

There are actually 4 Rogation days. The Major Rogation falls on the Friday before the week of Ascension Thursday.  But it wasn’t listed on my calendar!  The three days of fasting, abstinence, and penance, of this week are called Minor Rogation days.  A note about how much fasting or abstinence is to be observed:

Some sources suggest fasting on these days, but Abbot Gueranger notes that all out fasting might be out of keeping with the spirit of the Easter season, and was really never a widespread practice, even in Rome.  Abstinence, however has been a consistent rule.  Today is Friday anyway, but abstinence also applies to the three Rogation days next week (though there is no obligation to do so, even under the 1917 code of cannon law).

None of this is Church law anymore, but it is certainly meritorious of Grace to abstain from flesh meat, or fast, and of course always with regard to penance.

To some, these largely forgotten aspects of traditional Catholic life may seem strange.  But I think they were vital aspects of the whole liturgical year, which helped inculcate in faithful souls a feel for that year and the differing seasons, and helped focus all of life’s varying moments on God and consecrating them to Him.  I think much has been lost by their absence. I pray for the formal return of all these penitential seasons.

Which reminds me, the spring Ember days are the week after next.  Those ARE days of  fasting and abstinence, and are somewhat more well known than the Rogation days.



1. TonyMantoan - May 7, 2013

Thanks for mentioning Rogation days. I agree that they are an important aspect of our liturgical heritage, and I am glad to see them being appreciated more. Just a note on the Major Rogation, it is fixed to April 25th. The year I wrote that post, 4/25 happened to be the Friday before Ascension, but that was just a coincidence.

tantamergo - May 7, 2013

Thus, why I did not find it on my calendar. Thank you for the clarification.

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