Sunday, 5 May 2013

Rogation Days, the blood of the Martyrs and Harvest time

At Mass today, Father described the ancient tradition of the minor Rogation days leading up to Ascension mark tomorrow, Tuesday and Wednesday on your calendars!
As Father so eloquently put it, before the over enthusiastic liturgical pruning that occurred in the 1960s, these days were set aside traditionally to ask God to bless the harvest; a need we have lost sight of in a post industrial world. In the same way that the practice of Friday abstinence was dropped by the majority of Catholics as soon as it was no longer mandatory, so the loss of the Rogation days from the official liturgical calendar led inevitably to them becoming pretty much obsolete.
Yesterday, we travelled to Downside Abbey where an annual Solemn High Mass is celebrated. The relics of St John Roberts in this beautiful Minor Basilica are a powerful reminder that the seeds sown with his martydom have borne great fruit. A Benedictine monk, he established a community at Douai in France, which years later would flee the Revolution to re-establish itself in England, eventually at Downside. In the dark times in which he lived, could he ever have imagined that the harvest would be so great?
The word rogation comes from the Latin ask. In today's Gospel, Jesus tells us whatever we ask the Father in his name will be given to us. We might not be able to imagine the harvest God has in mind for each of our lives...the results of our efforts might not be something we ever see, but "those who are sowing in tears will sing when they reap". Bishop Fulton Sheen had a great quote about being in the Church when times seemed tough. He said it' s easy to be a Catholic when the culture around is in step with the Church, it's much harder to stand up and be counted when being Catholic goes against the prevailing secular values. He said"even dead bodies can float downstream"..... It's easy to go along when times are not challenging the Faith.
The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church and it was definitely spring time at Downside yesterday...time to get sowing and use the Rogation days to ask God with fasting and prayer to abundantly bless our harvest.

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