There is an old tradition of the church that has been making a comeback lately. It has a fascinating history that dates back to 470 AD when France was in turmoil – the Goths were invading, so the threat of war was constantly looming. Add to that the turmoil of disease, fires, earthquakes and even wild animal attacks. It is during this time that the Bishop of Vienne, Mamertus, started the official Christian version of Rogationtide.


Rogation is derived from the Latin verb ‘rogare’ which means ‘to ask.’ In the liturgies of Rogation Days, we ask the Lord to bless the fields, the crops, and the hands of farmers who produce our food. When you trace the history of Rogation Days from their beginning to their practice among Anglicans, you discover George Herbert, a sort-of patron saint for rural parish priests, speaking about the excitement around the Rogation Day procession. Herbert said his congregation was addicted to these processions in the fields. I find that utterly delightful!


George Herbert outlined these four aims in the observance of Rogation Days.

  • To seek God’s blessing for the fields to bear fruit
  • To seek the preservation of justice in the boundaries of the parish
  • To walk in love with one another and reconcile differences
  • To practice mercy and generosity toward the poor from God’s provisions

In most parishes and their towns and cities now, it’s unlikely one would find agricultural fields. But with the same spirit, we may plant flowers, or even vegetables, into the landscaping. What has also become a part of this tradition is to thoroughly clean out all or part of the church property in preparation for Ascension Day. Out with the old and in with the new.


Rogation Days encourage us to deepen our roots in the parish where we live and worship. We always live somewhere, a real place on earth, with soil and scars and history and hope. Rogation Days are days to worship in the grass, soil and dust— to “get dirty.” To say “This place matters to us, Lord. This soil, this earth, the people of this parish—their stories, their scars, their history, and their hope for the future. Everything in this parish matters to us because it matters to you. And so we ask you to bless, provide, and save the people of your pasture in this parish.”


This parish is the place, the ground, the dirt, where we prepare for the New Jerusalem.



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