Today, (Fifth Sunday after Easter) is “Rogation Sunday” and the next three days are known as “Rogation Days.” Rogation Sunday is the day when the Church has traditionally offered prayer for God’s blessings on the fruits of the earth and the labours of those who toil for them.
The word “rogation” is from the Latin rogare, “to ask.”
It was Bishop Mamertus of Viennes, France, who came up with the idea of setting aside the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Ascension Day to ask for God’s blessings and His protection. During the years when Mamertus was bishop (461-475), France was struck by a series of natural disasters, floods, fires, earthquakes, and plagues, as well as by rioting, looting, and invasions.
Mamertus called for three days of prayer and fasting, in the hope that God would forgive the people for their sins and protect them from further catastrophe. He led processions on these days, asking God to bring them peace, good weather, and a bountiful harvest.
The idea caught on, and by AD 511, the entire Western Church was observing the Rogation Days.
We don’t feel we have to trust God because we have science, technology, insurance, savings and modern medicine. All of these things can be viewed as gifts to be received with thanksgiving and used faithfully. But these things can also become idols that we trust and depend upon instead of God.
Rogation Sunday challenges us to reconsider the place of prayer in our lives. Prayer does not stand in opposition to work. Our Lord worked very hard but prayed constantly and intensely. St. Paul, who counsels us to “pray without ceasing” (1st Thess. 5: 17) also boasted that he “laboured more abundantly” than all of the other apostles (1st Cor. 15: 10).
Through prayer we remember who God is and who we are in relationship to Him. We remember that our vocation is to do good work and never merely to make money. Through prayer we receive grace, wisdom, inspiration and direction; through prayer, we learn to listen to God; our actions come to be rooted in Christ.
Prayer gives us the wisdom to sort out what is fruitful from what is fruitless and act accordingly.
We come to the altar to offer our souls and bodies to God through Christ. God gives us back forgiveness, healing, wisdom, strength, guidance and direction. He gives us back our particular vocation to do the particular good works that he has prepared for each of us to walk in.
We bring to God our disorder and chaos; from this God brings forth the order and beauty of his new creation in our lives.
Human ingenuity may help us with efficiency and productivity; but a good harvest is still the product of prayerful dependence upon God, the giver of all good gifts.
Happy Rogation Sunday, and let’s get ready to cry to the Lord. God bless you.
Your Vicar and Friend
The Venerable Kiri Wakama