Sunday through Wednesday, May 26-29: Rogation Sunday & Rogation Days
Collect for Rogation Sunday: O Lord, from whom all good things do come; Grant to us thy humble servants, that by thy holy inspiration we may think those things that are good, and by thy merciful guiding may perform the same; through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
The word “Rogation” comes from the Latin “rogare” or “to ask.” The Rogation Days began in 470, after a series of natural disasters in Vienne, France. The Archbishop Mamertus called for a fast and said that the people were to process around their fields with litanies and prayers just as the crops were beginning to sprout. These processions took hold and became a custom. Gradually, the Rogation Days became a time of festival, celebrating the advent of spring. The members of a parish would process around the boundaries of the parish, which could take a whole day. You can learn more about the Rogation Days here. At our church, we will have a blessing of the seeds today and a procession around our church’s neighborhood in place of Wednesday Evening Prayer. If you’re looking for a way to observe these days with your family, check out this Rogation Prayer Bunting.
Thursday, May 30: Ascension Day
Collect for Ascension: Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that like as we do believe thine only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into the heavens; so we may also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with him continually dwell, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
St. Luke records the Ascension in Luke 24:49-53 and Acts 1:1-11. “The Ascension is more than a miracle showing Jesus’ mastery over the physical world. It is Christ’s enthronement, when he is seated at the right hand of God as King and Priest. To be seated at God’s right hand is a frequent Biblical metaphor, especially noteworthy in Psalm 110, where a figure is foretold who unites the offices of King and Priest, with all things subjected under him. Hence, right before his Ascension, Christ could declare ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’ ” (Read more from this reflection on the Ascension)
Full Homely Divinity notes that Ascension is also a day for processions and makes this practical suggestion for families:
In time, the liturgical procession evolved into a holiday hike, with hills and mountaintops as their destination. This is the logical focus for a family observance of the feast. After attending the Ascension Day Eucharist, or on the weekend following, take a picnic lunch or supper and hike to the top of the highest hill or mountain around. If hiking is not possible for some reason, drive, but go up to the heights.
They suggest reading Luke 24:50-52 and the collect for Ascension at the beginning of the trip and praying this prayer when you reach the heights:
Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
It’s traditional to eat fowl for Ascension (pigeons, pheasants, partridges, even crows!), so perhaps that can make its way into your family’s picnic. In Western Germany, bakers made pastries in the shape of birds, so that could also be a good (and perhaps more accessible) option.
The nine days from Ascension to Pentecost are the original “novena.” Here is an Ascensiontide Novena to pray with your family starting the day after Ascension (Friday)
Friday, May 31: St. Augustine of Canterbury
In 596, St. Gregory the Great sent the prior of Saint Andrew’s monastery and forty monks to re-evangelize Britain. The prior’s name was Augustine (and, of course, we say “of Canterbury” to distinguish him from Augustine if Hippo). Augustine and the monks landed in England in 597. They sent word to King Ethelbert, who received them courteously (he already knew of Christianity since his wife, Bertha, was a Christian). Ethelbert gave them an old church dedicated to St. Martin where the monks immediately began to live the monastic life. As the Venerable Bede says,
“As soon as they occupied the house given to them they began to emulate the life of the apostles and the primitive Church. . . The practiced what they preached, and were willing to endure any hardship, and even to the point of dying for the truths they proclaimed Before long a number of people, admiring the simplicity of their holy lives and the comfort of their heavenly message, believed and were baptized.”
Eventually, the king himself was baptized. At that point, Augustine followed Pope Gregory’s orders and was consecrated Archbishop of the English. When he returned from France, many thousands of people (as many as 10,000 converts) wanted to be baptized. He died either in 604 or 605.
Saturday, June 1: St. Bede the Venerable
Born in Northumbria around the year 670, Bede was given to the monastery of Saint Peter and Saint Paul at Wearmouth when he was 7 years old. He says of himself,
“I have spent all the remainder of my life in this monastery and devoted myself entirely to the study of the Scriptures. Amid the observance of the Rule and the daily task of singing the office in church, my chief delight has always been in study, teaching, and writing.”
One of the main results of his study and writing was the most complete history of Christian England up to the year 729. He was loved as a teacher and respected for his faithfulness to Rule. He died peacefully in 735.
- Did you see our new “Meaningful Homes” post from Helena Nellie Sullivan: The Sullivan Home and the Moral Imagination? If you haven’t, be sure to check it out! (and read to the end because Nellie is a poet and shared a beautiful house blessing she wrote).
- Pentecost will be on June 9. Prepare with your family with the Ascensiontide Novena. Also, here are some simple Pentecost traditions for the home.