Rogation Days

In response to my post on the Octave of Pentecost yesterday, one of my readers submitted a comment explaining why he thought things like the Octave were important reminders to Catholics. He ended his comment with an expression of his desire that I and other Catholic writers/bloggers take steps to encourage the Church to reinstate the celebration of Rogation Days.

Just as I was forced to admit in my prior post that I hadn’t known that the Church used to celebrate the Octave of Pentecost, here I admit that I had never heard of (or at least never remember having heard of) Rogation Days. So I looked it up.

The English word “rogation” comes form the Latin verb “rogare,” which means “to ask. Rogation Days were days of prayer tied to the spring planting, during which people prayed for a good and bountiful harvest. An old custom of the Church, the primary purpose of the day was to ask God to bless the fields and the areas around them. There are four Rogation Days: the Major Rogation, which occurs on April 25, and three Minor Rogations, on the three days immediately preceding Ascension Thursday.

Rogation Days cesed to be part of the liturgical calendar in 1969, although parishes can still celebrate them, and some in Europe still do celebrate at least the Major Rogation.

Notwithstanding my readers’ suggestion, I have no plans to make a major push for the return of Rogation Days. Still, as I find it increasingly important to support local farms, the idea of prayer that keeps us in touch with nature and that reminds us that our food is gift from God doesn’t seem to me a bad thing. As with the Octave of Easter, nothing stops us from individually celebrating the days ourselves. But perhaps we would benefit by recognizing such days together in our church communities.