Above: priest and school children on Rogation procession, c. 1950. The little boy is carrying a symbolic tree of plenty. Source: Hulton Archive/Getty Images.
What are Rogation Days?
Liturgies.net summarizes these forgotten elements of our Catholic heritage as follows:
Rogation Days are the four days set apart to bless the fields and invoke God’s mercy on all of creation. The 4 days are April 25, which is called the Major Rogation (and is only coincidentally the same day as the Feast of St. Mark); and the three days preceding Ascension Thursday, which are called the Minor Rogations. Traditionally, on these days, the congregation marches the boundaries of the parish, blessing every tree and stone, while chanting or reciting a Litany of Mercy, usually a Litany of the Saints.
Rogations and Moveable Feasts
As stated, the Major Rogation Day is on April 25th, the Feast of St. Mark. Should it happen that the feast of St. Mark the Evangelist is transferred to another day (e.g., when a day in the Octave of Easter falls on April 25th), the Rogation procession is held nevertheless on April 25th, unless the feast falls on Easter Sunday or Monday, in which case the procession is transferred to Easter Tuesday. April 25th is the latest date that Easter may ever fall on. And as Dom Guéranger in The Liturgical Year states, “If April 25 occur during Easter week, the procession takes place on that day (unless it be Easter Sunday), but the feast of the Evangelist is not kept till after the octave.”
Since the Minor Rogation Days are correspond with Ascension Thursday, the date of the Minor Rogation Days varies.
The History of the Major Rogation Day
Major and Minor Rogation Days are also known as the Greater Litanies and Lesser Litanies, respectively, on account of the traditional custom of praying litanies on these days in the form of the Rogation Procession. Dom Guéranger explains more about the characteristic procession on these days and how they originated:
The Greater Litanies, (or Processions,) are so called to distinguish them from the Minor Litanies, that is, Processions of less importance as far as the solemnity and concourse of the Faithful were concerned. We gather from an expression of St. Gregory the Great, that it was an ancient custom in the Roman Church to celebrate, once each year, a Greater Litany, at which all the Clergy and people assisted. This holy Pontiff chose the 25th of April as the fixed day for this Procession and appointed the Basilica of St. Peter as the Station.See AlsoFriday Sermon: Going back to Allah in repentance before Ramadan, By Murtadha GusauUnlocking the Mystery: The Greek Definition of Repentance Revealed
Several writers on the Liturgy have erroneously confounded this institution with the Processions prescribed by St. Gregory for times of public calamity. It existed long before his time, and all that he had to do with it was the fixing it to the 25th of April. It is quite independent of the Feast of St. Mark, which was instituted at a much later period.
The History of the Minor Rogation Days
In 2020, Dom Alcuin Reid gave a monastic conference on the Minor Rogation Days where he said in part:
Their observance is now similar in format to the Greater Litanies of April 25th, but these three days have a different origin, having been instituted in Gaul in the fifth century as days of fasting, abstinence and abstention from servile work in which all took part in an extensive penitential procession, often barefoot. The procession and litanies only found a place in the Roman liturgy much later (around the beginning of the ninth century) and even then purely as days of rogation – of intercession – rather than as ones of fasting and penance; the latter being deemed incompatible with the nature of Eastertide.
Indeed, this ancient tradition itself is now widely lost in the West. How many Catholics understand what is meant by the greater or lesser litanies, or by the expression “the Rogations” – clergy included?
…Dom Guéranger himself lamented the lack of appreciation of the Rogations in his own day: “If we compare the indifference shown by the Catholics of the present age for the Rogation days, with the devotion wherewith our ancestors kept them, we cannot but acknowledge that there has been a great falling off in faith and piety. Knowing, as we do, the great importance attached to these processions by the Church, we cannot help wondering how it is that there are so few among the faithful who assist at them. Our surprise increases when we find persons preferring their own private devotions to these public prayers of the Church, which, to say nothing of the result of good example, merit far greater graces than any exercises of our own choosing.”
The origin of the Minor Rogation Days that Dom Alcuin Reid alludes to goes back to 470 AD when Bishop Mamertus of Vienne in Gaul instituted an annual observance of penance on the three days immediately before the Feast of the Ascension. He prescribed litanies in the form of processions for all three days. Thereafter they spread to the Frankish part of France in 511, to Spain in the 6th century, and to the German park of the Frankish empire in 813. In 816, Pope Leo III incorporated the lesser litanies into the Roman Liturgy, and during the subsequent centuries the custom of holding these litanies being custom for each year.
While the Lesser Litanies (i.e., Minor Rogation Days) are kept on the three days leading up to Ascension Day, Father Francis Weiser notes an important exception: “Pope Pius XII granted to some Catholic missions in the Pacific Islands the permission to celebrate both the major and minor litanies in October or November” (Christian Feasts and Customs, p. 42).
Is Penance Unbefitting for the Pascal Season?
Dom Guéranger answers this question which many liturgically-minded Catholics ask:
The question naturally presents itself, why did St. Gregory choose the 25th of April for a Procession and Station, in which everything reminds us of compunction and penance, and which would seem so out of keeping with the joyous Season of Easter?
The first to give a satisfactory answer to this difficulty, was Canon Moretti, a learned Liturgiologist of last century. In a dissertation of great erudition, he proves that in the 5th, and probably even in the 4th, century, the 25th of April was observed at Rome as a day of great solemnity. The Faithful went, on that day, to the Basilica of St. Peter, in order to celebrate the anniversary of the first entrance of the Prince of the Apostles into Rome, upon which he thus conferred the inalienable privilege of being the Capital of Christendom. It is from that day that we count the twenty-five years, two months and some days that St. Peter reigned as Bishop of Rome. The Sacramentary of St. Leo gives us the Mass of this Solemnity, which afterwards ceased to be kept. St. Gregory, to whom we are mainly indebted for the arrangement of the Roman Liturgy, was anxious to perpetuate the memory of a day, which gave to Rome her grandest glory. He, therefore, ordained that the Church of St. Peter should be the Station of the Great Litany, which was always to be celebrated on that auspicious day. The 25th of April comes so frequently during the Octave of Easter, that it could not be kept as a Feast, properly so called, in honor of St. Peter’s entrance into Rome; St. Gregory, therefore, adopted the only means left of commemorating the great event.
Hence from ancient times the Church kept these days as days of supplication. And even if fasting, the hallmark of Lent, would be ill-suited for Pascaltide, abstinence is still permitted and even obligatory in the Pascal Season. For instance, Friday abstinence is mandatory in the Pascal Season both in the 1983 Code of Canon Law and in all prior times, back to the establishment of Wednesday and Friday fasting and abstinence by the Apostles.
In former times, Rome enjoined abstinence from meat on the faithful during Rogationtide. Other places, however, such as the Churches in Gaul where Rogation Days originated, required fasting. Dom Guéranger explains:
A day, then, like this, of reparation to God’s offended majesty, would naturally suggest the necessity of joining some exterior penance to the interior dispositions of contrition which filled the hearts of Christians. Abstinence from flesh meat has always been observed on this day at Rome; and when the Roman Liturgy was established in France by Pepin and Charlemagne, the Great Litany of April 25 was, of course, celebrated, and the abstinence kept by the faithful of that country. A Council of Aix-la-Chapelle, in 836, enjoined the additional obligation of resting from servile work on this day: the same enactment is found in the Capitularia of Charles the Bald. As regards fasting, properly so-called, being contrary to the spirit of Paschal Time, it would seem never to have been observed on this day, at least not generally. Amalarius, who lived in the ninth century, asserts that it was not then practiced even in Rome.
Fasting was championed as well by St. Charles Borromeo in Milan although Rome has never obligated fasting during the Pascal Season. Fasting during the Pascal Season though is not a sin, just as almsgiving and prayer, the other Lenten pillars, are certainly praiseworthy during Pascaltide.
Abstain from Meat and Join in the Processions
I highly encourage all Catholics to observe these days and spend time praying the Litany of Saints not only for a bountiful harvest but also for mercy and repentance. The Rogation Days are also days we could at least abstain from meat as penance to implore the mercy of God during our present chastisements.
Priests, please offer for the benefit of the faithful public Rogation Day processions. Advertise them. Encourage people to voluntarily abstain from meat and offer it up to implore God’s mercy for our nation, our country, and our families. Please make these days known and loved again by the faithful.
For those looking for Rogation Day prayers for the procession, including the Litany, please click here. And for those who would like prayers of blessings to be said on one’s property, especially appropriate for Rogation Day, please click here. These prayers may be said by the laity.
Lastly, Fr. Christopher Smith, a priest of the Diocese of Charleston, South Carolina put together a truly beautiful and excellent illustrated guide explaining both the Rogations and Ember Days, with a number of very useful quotes from various liturgical sources. Download that to further your knowledge of Rogation and Ember Days by clicking here.
Prayer from the Rogation Mass of the ancient Gallican Rite:
It is from thee, O Lord, we receive the food, wherewith we are daily supported; to thee also do we offer these fasts, whereby, according to thy command, we put upon our flesh the restraint from dangerous indulgence. Thou hast so ordered the changes of seasons, as to afford us consolation: thus, the time for eating gives nourishment to the body, by sober repasts; and the time for fasting inflicts on them a chastisement pleasing to thy justice. Vouchsafe to bless and receive this our offering of a three days’ penitential fast; and mercifully grant, that whilst our bodies abstain from gratification, our souls also may rest from sin. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
If the procession is held, the Rogation Mass is obligatory, and no notice is taken of whatever feast may occur, unless only one Mass is said, for then a commemoration is made of the feast.Are Rogation Days fasting days? ›
Rogation days are days of prayer and fasting in Western Christianity. They are observed with processions and the Litany of the Saints.What are the Rogation Days before the Ascension? ›
In the old tradition of the Ecclesia Anglicana and of the Catholic Church in the west, the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before the Feast of the Ascension are called Rogation Days. These days of fasting and abstinence are preparation for the feast of the Ascension.What are the lesser litanies? ›
Preceding the celebration of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ on Thursday, the Minor Rogation Days (or Lesser Litanies)* of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday provide us the opportunity to beseech God's forgiveness for man's transgressions and His blessings for a bountiful harvest.What days are mandatory in the Catholic Church? ›
Three of the six Holy Days: Ascension, Immaculate Conception of Mary and the Nativity (Christmas) are always Holy Days of obligation regardless of which day they fall on. All Saints, Mary the Mother of God (January 1) and the Assumption are not Holy Days of obligation if they fall on a Saturday or Monday.What is the prayer for Rogation Days? ›
Prayer for Rogation – farm safety
Heavenly Father, We bring before you all those whose lives and livelihoods revolve around land and season. We pray for all who till the soil and tend the crops, For all who cherish beast and fowl, For all who harvest and prepare our food.
Although fasting is considered a pious act in Islam, there are times when fasting is considered prohibited or discouraged according to the majority of the sunni scholars: Eid al-Adha and three days following it, because Muhammad said "You are not to fast these days.How many days should a spiritual fast be? ›
A complete fast should be very short; it should not last longer than a few days. Do not abstain from drinking water for long and only do so under your doctor's supervision.What happens on Rogation Sunday? ›
Rogation invites people to ask for blessing – for a particular place; for all its inhabitants; for every endeavour to promote the common good. It is totally inclusive – joining everyone in seeking sustenance and a commitment to play their part in its provision.Why is the Ascension transferred to Sunday? ›
Transferring the Ascension to Sunday is actually not that new, and part of a larger trend to transfer holy days of obligation and other solemnities to the following Sunday. Doing so allows greater exposure and more solemn celebration of the holy day among the faithful.
Ascension has an Afterfeast of eight days. The Sunday after Ascension is the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council at Nicaea.Is Ascension Sunday the same as Pentecost? ›
Jesus' ascension also signified the completion of his time on earth, celebrated 10 days before the Feast of Pentecost - the coming of the Holy Spirit.What are the 6 litanies? ›
The litanies include; the Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus, the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Litany of the Precious Blood of Jesus, the Litany of Loreto, the Litany of St. Joseph, and the Litany of the Saints.Why do Catholics say litanies? ›
A litany, which, in its original Greek means a "supplication" or "petition," was used for a wide range of liturgical occasions, as well as for penitential processions, for visiting the sick and the dying, and for private devotion.Can you pray a litany alone? ›
Most commonly recited on All Saints Day, the Litany of the Saints is an excellent prayer for use throughout the year, especially at those times during which we need special guidance or graces. Like all litanies, it is designed to be recited communally, but it can be prayed alone.Is it a mortal sin not to go to church on Sunday in the Catholic Church? ›
Our Sunday Mass obligation is based on the Third Commandment: “Remember the sabbath day — keep it holy” (Ex 20:8). All of the commandments of God are serious matter, so to deliberately miss Mass on Sunday — without a just reason — would objectively be considered a mortal sin.What is the most important day in the Catholic Church? ›
Easter is Christianity's most important holiday, as it celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ – a foundation of the Christian faith, grounded in the teachings of the New Testament.What is the most important feast in the Catholic Church? ›
Sunday, May 11, is the a feast of utmost importance in the Church. If fact, if your students ranked feast days in order, Easter would have the most importance. Easter is the day that gives meaning to our faith and distinguishes it from all others.What Psalm is Rogation Sunday? ›
Psalm 50:1-2, 10-11
the city perfect in its beauty. and the cattle on thousands of hills. and all living things in the fields. our hills and streams our rivers, lakes, reservoirs and seas that in all these things we might glimpse a reflection of your glory and your gracious love for each one of us.
Observant Jews recite the Amidah at each of three daily prayer services in a typical weekday: morning (Shacharit), afternoon (Mincha), and evening (Ma'ariv).
In addition to prayers for a bountiful harvest and the blessing of fields, these special days, known as Rogation Days and Ember Days, included prayers for voca- tions to the priesthood, thereby encompassing both the literal and the figurative meanings of Christ's injunction: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers ...Which Prophet fasted for 3 days? ›
[Bukkhari]. Aside from the days on which it is forbidden to fast – the two days of Eid, the three days of Al-Tashreeq (11th, 12th, 13th of Dhul-Hijjah), the Prophet, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, would fast intermittently throughout the year.At what age is fasting mandatory in Islam? ›
However both prayer and fasting aren't required or mandated until a child hits puberty. As children come in all different sizes, personalities and packages, so do their fasting journeys.Which 2 days to fast in Islam? ›
Mondays and Thursdays
Aishah narrated: "The Prophet used to try to fast on Mondays and Thursdays" [Tirmidhi, Nasai, and Ibn Majah]. Fasting twice a week is not only Sunnah, or tradition of the Prophet, but in fact is said to be a healthy routine for your body.
We have two types of fast. The one that pleases God known as the purifying fast, and the one that displeases God known as the wicked fast.Is it OK to fast from 6am to 3pm? ›
One study suggested eating for the same period between 6am and 3pm and a 15-hour overnight fast works best with our natural body clock - or circadian rhythm. It boosted how the body processed blood sugar and participants also lost weight, shed dangerous visceral fat around the midriff and reduced inflammation.Why is a rogation important? ›
The Minor Rogations were traditionally observed with processional litanies and fasting as a supplication for clement weather for the crops and deliverance from pestilence and famine.What is the meaning of rogation? ›
: litany, supplication. : the religious observance of the Rogation Days. often used in plural.What is a synonym for the word rogation? ›
On this page you'll find 10 synonyms, antonyms, and words related to rogation, such as: chant, decree, law, litany, rite, and supplication.What did Jesus do between resurrection and ascension? ›
Three days later Jesus emerged victorious over death from the tomb. For the next 40 days He taught and ministered to His disciples in what must have been an intensely powerful experience, preparing them for His Ascension into heaven.
Ascension, in Christian belief, the ascent of Jesus Christ into heaven on the 40th day after his Resurrection (Easter being reckoned as the first day). The Feast of the Ascension ranks with Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost in the universality of its observance among Christians.Do Christians go to church on Ascension Day? ›
Ascension Day is not a major event in most Protestant parishes, but in the Catholic Church the Feast of the Ascension is one of the Holy Days of Obligation, meaning that believers are obliged to attend Mass.Do you wear white on Pentecost Sunday? ›
Pentecost has also been known as Whitsun or Whitsunday, a corruption of “White Sunday.” This term reflects the custom by which those who were baptized at the Vigil of Pentecost would wear their white baptismal garments to church on the Day of Pentecost.What is the prayer for Sunday after Ascension? ›
O God the King of glory, who hast exalted thine only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph unto thy kingdom in heaven: We beseech thee, leave us not comfortless; but send to us thine Holy Ghost to comfort us, and exalt us unto the same place whither our Saviour Christ is gone before, who liveth and reigneth with thee and ...Do Amish celebrate Ascension Day? ›
Ascension Day is recognized 40 days after Easter and is the day that Jesus Christ ascended into heaven. It marks the end of the Easter season. Amish always take this day off from work, therefore, they do not do business on Ascension Day and no tours will be given.How many days did Jesus stay on Earth after resurrection? ›
DEAR N.G.: The Bible clearly states that after His resurrection Jesus repeatedly appeared to His disciples over a period of 40 days, and then miraculously ascended into the presence of God. The Bible says, "He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight" (Acts 1:9).Is the Holy Spirit ascension or Pentecost? ›
Christ's transition to the higher life of glory, begun in resurrection, was perfected in ascension. But from another perspective, ascension is the prerequisite for Pentecost. The Spirit could not come in His fulness to open the gospel message fully to Jews and Gentiles alike until Christ first ascended into heaven.How many days are there between Jesus resurrection and Pentecost? ›
Fifty days after Jesus' resurrection was the first Pentecost. God caused a visible outpouring of the Holy Spirit. (Acts ch.What are the 6 levels of prayer? ›
- Level 1: Vocal Prayer. ...
- Level 2: Discursive Meditation. ...
- Level 3: Affective Mental Prayer. ...
- Level 4: Acquired Recollection. ...
- Level 5: Infused Recollection. ...
- Level 6:Prayer of Quiet. ...
- Level 7: Prayer of Simple Union. ...
- Level 8: Prayer of Ecstatic Union.
The four Roman Marian feasts of Purification, Annunciation, Assumption and Nativity of Mary were gradually and sporadically introduced into England and by the 11th century were being celebrated there.
Abstract: Participants (N D 430) were recruited online and completed a measure of six prayer types (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication, reception, and obligatory prayer).Why do Catholics sing when they pray? ›
When the church prays and sings, Christ is present. By our song, we raise our needs to God in a unique voice of prayer. Even when we are burdened, song can lift our hearts in a way that spoken words may not be able to achieve.Can the Litany of the Saints be sung at a wedding? ›
If you and your spouse to be can't narrow down to one or two saints to dedicate your marriage to, you can create a personalized litany of saints to be sung during your wedding Mass!What is the meaning of Litanies a la Vierge Noire? ›
Litanies à la Vierge noire (French pronunciation: [litani a la vjɛʁʒ nwɑʁ]; "Litany to the Black Virgin"), FP 82, is a piece of sacred music composed by Francis Poulenc in 1936 for a three-part choir of women (or children) and organ, setting a French litany recited at the pilgrimage site Rocamadour which the composer ...Can you pray silently Catholic? ›
Answer: Yes, prayer can be silent and in our hearts.Is it okay to pray silently? ›
Silence and solitude are essential aspects of contemplative prayer, a practice of prayer that waits on God and trusts in God's present love and grace. While silence can be especially helpful in becoming attentive to God while praying, it is hardly an excuse to remain aloof from the needs of our neighbors.Is it OK to pray for yourself Catholic? ›
One of the key elements in prayer is petitioning, or praying for yourself. Some people shy away from such prayers, thinking that it violates humility and draws attention to themselves rather than God. Yet, it's absolutely biblical. In fact, Jesus petitioned the following the night before He was crucified: “Father…Are holy days of obligation mandatory? ›
Catholic holy days of obligation are the days on which we're expected to go to Mass. This list includes every single Sunday, along with a few additional days. Some feasts, such as Easter, are always celebrated on a Sunday, so they are always obligatory.What are the 8 holy days of obligation? ›
The following days must also be observed: the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the Ascension, the Body and Blood of Christ, Holy Mary the Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, her Assumption, Saint Joseph, Saint Peter and Saint Paul the Apostles, and All Saints. §2.What are the days of obligation during Lent? ›
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence. For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59.
holy days of obligation, in the Roman Catholic Church, religious feast days on which Catholics must attend mass and refrain from unnecessary work. Although all Sundays are sanctified in this way, the term holy days usually refers to other feasts that must be observed in the same manner as Sunday.What if you accidentally miss a holy day of obligation? ›
God knows definitively whether a person who has missed Mass on a Sunday or holy day of obligation has done so with grave culpability. In addition, a person should typically be able to evaluate his actions in such a case. If he has any questions, a good priest can provide discerning counsel.Is missing holy day of obligation a sin? ›
It is still considered a mortal sin to miss Mass on a day of obligation without a good reason. The church has always believed that this obligation stems from the Ten Commandments given to Moses, one of which was to “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”Do I have to receive Communion on holy days of obligation? ›
The Church teaches that intentionally skipping Mass on a Sunday or holy day of obligation when one is able to attend also is a mortal sin. The 1983 Code of Canon Law (CIC) emphasizes this requirement for receiving Holy Communion when it states: “A person who is conscious of a grave sin is not to …Does Christmas Eve Mass fulfill obligation? ›
Here's the rundown: Christmas is a Holy Day of Obligation, and the faithful are required to attend Mass either Christmas Eve, Friday Dec. 24, or Christmas Day, Saturday, Dec. 25.What if a holy day of obligation falls on a Sunday? ›
On Sundays and Holydays of Obligation, no ritual Masses (e.g., Funeral Masses) can be celebrated. However, the readings and prayers of the Mass of the day may be used and the prayers of commendation may be used. However, on most Sundays of the year the nuptial Mass can be celebrated.Is all souls a holy day of obligation? ›
While All Souls Day is not a holy day of obligation, Catholics are encouraged to attend Mass on this day and honor all the faithful departed.What days don't count during Lent? ›
Sundays don't count for any Lenten discipline.
Sunday is a feast day. Sunday is the day we celebrate the Resurrection no matter what season. You can take Sundays off.
Does this mean I can "cheat" on Sundays? Since Sundays are not part of the penitential season, you are not required to practice signs of penitence on these days. But, there is no reason you can't do them either. If you feel you are "cheating" then it isn't helping!Can I break my Lenten promise on Sundays? ›
As for the Lenten penances, those are voluntary practices that people take up as personal devotions in addition to the penances required by the Church on the Fridays of Lent. As voluntary penances can be voluntarily set aside, taking a break from them on Sundays in honor of the Lord's Day is perfectly fine.
The bishops of the United States have designated six days of obligation: Ascension, Assumption, All Saints, Immaculate Conception, and Christmas. In addition, they moved Epiphany and the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ to Sundays. The solemnities of St. Joseph and Sts.When did the Catholic Church change holy days of obligation? ›
In 1642, Pope Urban reduced the number of Holy Days of Obligation to 36. In the 1917 Code of Canon Law, The Vatican listed the following 10 days as Holy Days of Obligation: Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ (Christmas) The Epiphany.Why is it important to have holy days of obligation? ›
The Catholic Holy Days of Obligation are our most important feast days. They are the principal liturgical feasts that honor the mysteries of the Lord, the Virgin Mary, and the saints. Rejoice! Catholics know that these are the most important days of the year.