Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

Catholic Prayer: Rogation Day Prayers


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Holy Mother Church, though radiant with the joy of Easter, spends three days before our Lord's Ascension in a spirit of penance, and wears purple. She has done this since the early days of her existence. The word Rogation comes from the Latin "rogo," to ask. Rogation days are set aside to appease the anger of God for the sins of the world and to draw His blessing on the fruits of the earth.

In Christian countries there used to be barefoot public processions and liturgies by clergy and faithful. St. Elizabeth of Hungary, for instance, dressed in coarse cloth, mingled among the poorest of women and walked barefooted in the processions of her time. Then, as now, the Litany of Saints was sung. In country places there used to be Rogation Day services and processions held outdoors during the public processions through the fields God's blessing on the crops is asked.

Today the Rogation Days are celebrated in each diocese according to the instructions of the Ordinary. We may ask for the graces of these days by praying the Mass and litany the last three days before Ascension. The Litany of All Saints, which may be found in most prayerbooks, is one of the most efficacious prayers of the Church. It is used on such solemn occasions as the ordination of priests. Singing it, as the Church does, makes it a much happier prayer. When our children were younger, and even now when they are tired, we make our own Litany of the patron saints of our family and sing it in English for them.

In these days, when so many are concerned with material things, it is well for us, city and country people alike, that the Church makes us stop to realize that all we have is the gift of God, and that we must ask His blessing on the labors of those who till the soil. Rogation Days are a time for Christian fathers and mothers to develop in their children a sense of wonder and awe at the power and the goodness of our Creator. This thought is carried out in one of the old hymns of the Church which children enjoy memorizing.


"All we can do is worth nothing
Unless God blesses the deed;
Vainly we hope for the harvest-tide
Till God gives life to the seed;
Yet nearer and nearer draws the time,
The time that shall surely be
When the earth shall be filled with the glory of God
As the waters cover the sea."

To the regular family prayers, which we say during the Easter season, we add the following:

Father: Praise the Lord; for He is good.
Family: His mercy endures forever.
Father: We beseech Thee, Almighty God, that because of our afflictions we may rely on Thy goodness, and with Thy protection may be defended against all adversities.
Family: And I say to you; ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened. Alleluia.

Prayer Source: Family Customs: Easter to Pentecost by Helen McLoughlin, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1956