Today (5th Sunday after Easter) is Rogation Sunday, while the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the week are the Rogation days, and Thursday will be the Ascension Day. “Rogation” is derived from the Latin word “Rogare” which means “Asking”.
A tradition has it that the Rogation Days originated in Vienne, France in 470 after a series of natural disasters had caused much suffering among the people and Archbishop Mamertus proclaimed a fast and ordered that special litanies and prayers be said as the population processed around their fields, asking God’s protection and blessing on the crops that were just beginning to sprout. This, eventually, led to the tradition of the church congregation processing around the boundaries of the church and farms “asking” God to bless the crops being sown, send rain and grant good harvests. The prayers were said (or sung) as the church processed around. It is from the Rogation Day prayers that Archbishop Cranmer formulated the Litany (1545), which was his first work of liturgical reform.
Rogation Sunday is, now, a time in Church calendar for special prayers for God’s blessings on farms, industries and other endeavours. Some pray over items of trade and paraphernalia of different professions asking for Divine favour and blessing. Rogation points us to our dependence on God. We are to work, but should realize that, as the Psalmist says: “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it…” (Psa. 127:1-2).