Monday, April 28, 2008

Rogation, Ascension and Saint Joseph

Rogare is latin for to ask, or to beg. Historically, the most ancient rogations were that of the consuls and tribunes to the people of Rome, concerning passage of a new law. The word, rogation, passed on to christian Rome as a particular solemn supplication or petition to the Lord.

Many things that began in the neighborhood of Rome passed to the greater church. The Major Rogation had been on 25 April, since 1969 it is no more. This initial rogation replaced a pagan supplication with a christian one. It fell in early spring, when it was wet and crops were starting. It was bidding for good growing, absent of disasters for agriculture and for food production.

The Minor Rogations are still with us, but rarely and not widely observed. They began in Gaul about the time of the ending of the roman empire in the west. These are the three days before Ascension. These this year are the: 28th, 29th and 30th of April. The Sunday before is, sometimes, called Rogation Sunday. By calendraic quirk, these five days of rogation are nearly consecutive.

These days were formally marked with processions, the blessing of fields and litanies (greek for rogations, from litanos, pleading) to the saints for their petitioning for us to the Lord. People fasted and vestments were violet. An ethos of responsible and successful stewardship of the land was engendered. To-day in the secular world, we have an Earth Day on 22 April and some places have an Arbor Day about the same time.*

Currently, this year around the world, there is a crisis over the availability of food. There is a wicked speculation that has driven the price for the grains that sustains people. People in countries where weekly incomes are in single digits of dollars, are paying in those dollars dollars per pound or kilogram for food. This speculation finds its opportunity through crop failures, climate disasters, war and horrid governance and corruption. People pay in wretched poverty and starvation. Rogations to God Almighty are sorely needed.

The Sunday Gospel has:
Amen, amen I say to you: if you ask the Father any thing in my name, he will give it you.†
The Gospel for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday has:
And I say to you, Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you.‡
These are the words of Jesus after His Resurrection and very near his Ascension unto heaven. The yearly cycle of the missal, the church year and the physical year weave well together. The joy and purpose of our existence and the hope of our future is reflected in our practise of living.

Ascension, Jesus rose to heaven and the Easter candle is no longer lit. The signs are metaphors for our salvation perspectives. Ascension is a feast on the fortieth day following the great feast of the Resurrection, Easter season is nearing a conclusion with Pentecost on the fiftieth day, when the Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit. There is a beauty of elegance in our lives and it proceeds during the year physical and liturgical.

Ascension is on Mayday, this year. We celebrate Saint Joseph the Worker on that day. Again, he is a looked over. Earlier the 19th of March, his other day, fell in Holy Week. Steady and still Joseph, short of speech and note. Jesus in his Resurrected Body returns to heaven on Ascension. There is a pious belief among a very few, that Joseph, who, so cared for the young Jesus may have been granted the grace to have joined, his virginal spouse and his foster Son, bodily in heaven also. The particulars of his death have not reached us through tradition or scripture.

We live in a convenience society in this country, so divorced from our past. We are not agrarians, whom so see the year intertwined with our lives. With these indulgences that cater to many, Ascension Thursday is transferred to the next Sunday and the Rogations, so fittingly proper, are not enjoined.
*The first Arbor day was 10 April 1874 in Nebraska, now it is on the 22nd, the birthday of its founder, Julius Sterling Morton. Morton was the party of the Democracy in Nebraska before Wm. J. Bryan.
†from John xvi. 23.
‡from Luke xi. 9.

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