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Catholic Activity: Rogation Days: Cross Days

This corresponds to the Rogation Days, on April 25, and the three days before Ascension Thursday. These were days of prayer and fasting to implore God's mercy on our sins, to ask protection from calamities, and to obtain a good and bountiful harvest. Part of the rogation ceremony would be processions, blessing the fields. The Rogation Days are no longer obligatory on the universal Roman Catholic Calendar. The local ordinary can choose to follow the observance.

DIRECTIONS

The first Rogation procession was made 1,500 years ago, and its litanies and antiphons were meant to avert God's anger from his people and to call down his blessing on the fruits of the fields. It is not strange that the procession came gradually to make its way over fields and meadows and ploughed land, in fact throughout the whole of the parish. In seaside parishes these processions included prayers for the harvest of the sea and they probably made their way along the sands or cliffs.

In some places the Rogation days were called the Cross days, probably because the procession halted every so often at certain crosses or at certain trees marked with a cross, at which the priest read from the New Testament before the crowd took up the litanies and antiphons once more.

Children in the procession carried green boughs, the girls decorated themselves with flower garlands, the men carried banners and a cross. All the streets were hung with green branches.

In Staffordshire by the early 18th century, the processioning had taken a rather different form; the whole village went out on the three days, led by the children, who bore long poles decorated with every sort of flower, and all together they sang over and over again the psalm: "All ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord."

There are not many processions now over the fields on Rogation days; still, after our answering the litanies at Mass, we might spend the days in something of the old spirit. In a school or club we could have a procession like that once prevailing in Staffordshire, and thus call on all the created things of God to bless him.

Certainly night or morning prayers might include one or more of the Church's prayers for the fruits of the earth; particularly if those who pray have a garden:

We implore thy blessing, Almighty God, that thou wilt deign to nourish this earth with temperate winds, to pour over it like a shower of rain thy gracious blessings, granting to thy people to give thanks to thee eternally for thy gifts.

Activity Source: Candle is Lighted, A by P. Stewart Craig, The Grail, Field End House, Eastcote, Middlesex, 1945

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