Drought in California? ¡Vaya lío! Revive the Oratio Imperata, traditional public Processions

At Catholic Vote I saw an entry about how the bishops of California are praying for rain. It’s pretty dry out out there on the Left Coast.

SACRAMENTO Catholic bishops called for divine intervention Tuesday as California endures what appears to be its third straight dry winter.

The California Conference of Catholic Bishops asked people of all faiths to join in prayers for rain as reservoirs in the state dipped to historic lows after one of the driest calendar years on record.

Some cities already are restricting water use, while prospects for another dry summer have raised alarm about agriculture and wildfires.

The first Sierra Nevada snow survey of the winter last week found the water content in the statewide snowpack to be just 20 percent of average for this time of year. Without relief, state water managers said they will be able to deliver just 5 percent of the water sought by agencies that supply more than 25 million Californians and nearly a million acres of irrigated farmland.

Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto, president of the bishops conference, suggested a prayer for God to “open the heavens and let His mercy rain down upon our fields and mountains.”

[...]

I don’t know about asking “people of all faiths” to pray for rain, but I do know that in the Rituale Romanum there are prayers for same.  In the older Missale Romanum there are prayers for rain.

In the Rituale Romanum under the section for processions for Rogation Days, there are directions for a procession to implore rain, including:

God, in whom we live and move and have our being, grant us rain in plenty, so that as we amply experience your gifts of the present time we may all the more confidently desire those of eternity.

Grant, we beg you, almighty God, that we who put our trust in you in this affliction may ever be shielded from all adversities.

Lord, give us, we pray, a plentiful rainfall, and graciously pour out on the parched earth moisture from the heavenly vaults; through Christ our Lord.

When we have great need, let’s take it to the streets.

Let the bishops of California organize public processions to pray for rain.

And don’t just make it up: use the Church’s time honored rites! They have already been composed.  Just Say The Black and Do The Red.

In the older Missale Romanum there are prayers to be used in Mass to beg for rain, Ad petendam pluviam.  Here’s the Post Communion: Da nobis, quaesumus, Domine, pluviam salutarem: et arideam terrae faciem fluentis caelestibus dignanter infunde.  (Yes, I know that there are also prayers in the newer, Novus Ordo book.  I didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday.  I say: Use the older books!)

Were I a diocesan bishop I would bring back the custom of the Oratio Imperata, obligatory prayers to be added to Mass having specific petitions in time of great need.  Time of drought was such an occasion.

Let us not fall into the trap being set for us by the secularist and liberal enemies of religion in the public square and, more specifically and virulently, of the Catholic Church.

Sure, ask people to pray for rain.  That’s nice and private.  Ask them even to pray together in churches.  That’s okay.  What more?  Take it to the streets.  Take it to the fields, as our forbears did.  Watch the public groundswell that follows.  Your Excellencies, in California, with your large Hispanic population dependent on the growth of crops, wouldn’t there be a turn out in vast numbers with you on the highways and byways?

Do it the old way.  And make a little lío while you’re at it.

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17 Responses to Drought in California? ¡Vaya lío! Revive the Oratio Imperata, traditional public Processions

  1. Kerry says:

    What! Praying for rain…? Whiskey, tango, foxtrot. How dare they impose their religion on the parched crops and cracked soil of the Caliutopian eletes!

  2. Traductora says:

    Great idea! Interestingly, on the few occasions we do have public processions where I live, the crowd grows as we walk along. We have a lot of tourists here, and I’d say a number of the people who join us aren’t Catholic and maybe aren’t even sure what we’re doing, but they know it’s something good and it gets their attention.

  3. msc says:

    This is one area where my scepticism raises itself up. I love the idea of processions, and have no problem with praying for personal redemption or grace to whomever the procession is in honor of, but …. If rain doesn’t come, what then? Were those particular people somehow not worthy? Did they not pray properly? Did they do something wrong ritually? And if rain comes to other people a couple of hundred miles away, are they more worthy? Did they pray better? Did all those believers that died during, say, the little ice age in the middle ages (which causes widespread famine) do something wrong? Or does God not take responsibility for natural phenomena such as rain and typhoons and tornadoes, earthquakes and diseases? I suspect the latter.

    [Yah... you sure got me there. I take back everything I wrote. Hey! Everyone! Stop praying for anything! If God doesn't do exactly as you say, well... it's all over.]

  4. Imrahil says:

    The dear @msc hits the nail on the head.

    I don’t say I agree with him; I could not disagree more. But this is precisely the point that at any cost must be made, and has been made far too seldom in modern times.

    God is almighty, takes care, and in fact does answer prayers, also for particular material wishes. (Maybe we can add: preferably if the also needs. But we can pray even for mere wishes.)

    The old oration after the Lauretan Litany says, among other things, “grant us health of both soul and body”. The Gotteslob translation let only the coming-to-Heaven part. Not that that would be bad or insufficient but still… hony soit qui mal y pense.

    That said, for the prayers, don’t forget the umbrellas.

  5. Vecchio di Londra says:

    There is also a Votive Collect*/Secret/Postcommunion** ‘For Rain’ that presumably can be said at almost any Mass either in first or second (commemorative) order.
    * “Deus, in quo vivimus, movemur, et sumus: pluviam nobis tribue congruentem…”
    ** “Da nobis, quaesumus, Domine, pluviam salutarem: et aridam terrae faciem fluentis coelestibus dignanter infunde…”
    I assume these prayers could be said during the Votive Mass ‘For Any Necessity’ (Violet).
    I like “fluentis coelestibus ” – a reminder of where rain actually comes from. As Goethe wrote on the subject of ‘water’:
    “Vom Himmel kommt es,
    Zum Himmel steigt es”
    (“It comes from heaven, it rises to heaven”)

    Just idly wondering: It isn’t possible, is it, that anyone in the Sunshine State has been doing anything ungodly in recent years? any trespass that might deserve the judgement of the Almighty? :-)
    If so, the Mass for Any Necessity’s Collect itself goes straight to the point:
    “ut simul nos et a peccatis omnibus exuas, et a peonis, quas pro his mereamur, eripias.”
    “Omnibus”! – that’s quite an ask…

  6. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Sorry, typo – “poenis” not “peonis”.

  7. St Donatus says:

    At first I was kind of agreeing with ‘msc’ on this, then I remembered our FSSP priest did a procession for rain in Colorado (we have been in drought for about four years now). About two days later we had several days of nice rain, almost too much rain. Really helped our farmers. Perhaps it was a coincidence, but it seems like these coincidences just keep coming to us and our parish. We don’t know what Gods greater plan is, we hope that we work along with it.

    I have noticed that many times our prayers are not immediately answered. Sometimes it seems that our prayers are answered but not in the time we expect. For example, note how the Church has gone through many troubled times in the past, but even fifty or even a hundred years later the prayers of the Church were answered.

    Especially when it comes to physical needs, we see that our wants may not be what we need. Look at the terrible troubles the Philippines has had over the last one hundred years. Poverty and starvation, hurricanes, earth quakes, political upheaval, terrorism, etc. Yet they have a much stronger faith than us westerners. Are they being blessed with what they really need?

    Is the biggest blessing we receive from prayer processions, the way it builds our faith by us acting out our faith in a physical way? Is another blessing, the witness it gives to those around us for the faith?

  8. Suburbanbanshee says:

    If we ask for bread, He won’t give us a stone. If we ask for a fish, He won’t give us a snake. His own Son said so. So why not ask the Father for what we need? What do we have to lose?

    And yes, processions are good for spreading the Gospel. “Come and see!”

    What else are we supposed to do — hole up and never do anything in public? Are we Catholics or mice?

  9. Elizabeth M says:

    May I also suggest we ask the intercession of Venerable Fr. Magin Catala of Santa Clara, CA? When I lasted asked him for rain, it rained the next day. Not much, but it was our first rain of the season.

  10. msc says:

    I never meant to suggest that people stop praying: I simply wondered about prayer’s ability to interfere with natural phenomena. If it doesn’t, it partly provides is one answer to those questions we’ve all heard to the effect of ‘How can a loving God let X [tsunami, earthquake, etc.] happen.” I believe in prayer, prayer to the saints, to the BVM, to Christ, but I do have doubts that such prayers can affect large scale natural phenomena that affect many people, among which is rain. However many people stand praying in the face of a tsunami’s wall of water, I don’t think it will stop. That’s all. Otherwise I have an image of a God letting some people die because they didn’t pray and letting others in similar circumstances live because they did pray. I would have not trouble praying that it will be God’s will that the rains come sooner (as opposed to praying that God send the rain), that I will be able endure until the rains come, that I will not despair. That’s all. I can connect it to miracles. Prayer can produce a miraculous cure of an otherwise incurable illness, but as far as I know there are no reliable attestations of miraculous cures of a group of people. I’m sorry that I did not make myself clearer, Father.

  11. msc says:

    Sorry, I somehow pasted in my next-t0-last version. This is the corrected one:

    I never meant to suggest that people stop praying: I simply wondered about prayer’s ability to interfere with natural phenomena. If it doesn’t, it partly provides one answer to those questions we’ve all heard to the effect of ‘How can a loving God let X [tsunami, earthquake, etc.] happen.” I believe in prayer, prayer to the saints, to the BVM, to Christ, and I do pray, but I do have doubts that such prayers can affect large scale natural phenomena that affect many people, among which is rain.
    However many people stand praying in the face of a tsunami’s wall of water, I don’t think it will stop. That’s all. Otherwise I have an image of a God letting some people die because they didn’t pray and letting others in similar circumstances live because they did pray. I would have not trouble praying that it will be God’s will that the rains come sooner (as opposed to requesting in prayer that God send the rain), that I will be able endure until the rains come, that I will not despair. In my uncertain mind, I can connect it to miracles. Prayer can produce a miraculous cure of an otherwise incurable illness, but as far as I know there are no reliable attestations of miraculous cures of a group of people. I’m sorry that I did not make myself clearer, Father.

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  13. Imrahil says:

    Dear @msc,

    thank you for making your position clearer, though, if I may say so, it remained the one I already understood after your first comment.

    Forgive me if the following sounds harsh. I’m in the mod queue anyway, so our reverend host might delete this comment if it sounds too much an attack, which it is not intended to be.

    But you presented yourself as the following:
    a crypto-Deist as far as things on this side of the grave are concerned.
    (Crypto, because you don’t say God could not do something, you just say He will not. – Can He, or can He not? If one says “no”, that’s Deism. If one says “yes but He does not”, does that look like a loving Father in Heaven?)

    Now,
    1. to me (yep, I begin with myself; because, you know, let’s put the less important things first), the image of a God who does, by miracle and in somewhat natural ways, interact with (“interact with” is an unprecise term, but let’s look over it) nature, is far more appealing than one who were only concerned with soul and afterlife, is far more appealing even though that does include the somewhat, in the precise sense of the term, awesome thought that He sometimes did not help because He was not prayed for – which is not even unjust. And also the mysterious observation that some prayers seem to be unheard by all outward signs. [* But, sub specie aeternitatis, what does it matter?] That, however, is rarer than apologists in their readiness too defend the faith sometimes assume.

    2. Securus iudex orbis terrarum, I’m speaking in this case of the Catholic orbit. The Catholics do pray for all sorts of things. Where I come from, an organizer of a public event was once in public told by his predecessor after stating that “it was a great time even in spite of bad weather” etc., that “and next time, you had better make the pilgrimage to St. Mary of Littlewaters which you forgot this year, then even the weather thing will work again”. (I am talking from memory yes, but not making this up.) Sloppy Catholics (such as the humble commenter) are not ashamed to shower St. Anthony with requests, and the stories and stories they could tell about the recovery are, aren’t they?, rather incapable with the image of a God who lets natural causes run their way and just leads us to Heaven (those who do not finally disobey Him that is).

    3. I’ll be careful here, but I cannot quite see how you can bring your attitude together with the Catholic teaching, which contains among other things
    a) that God takes active part in any action of His creatures,
    b) that God holds this world in being at any time,
    c) that Our Lord told his disciples to pray for things, even guaranteeing that they’d be answered,
    d) that Our Lord taught us to pray amongst other things “give us today our daily bread” (and if your problems were valid, what then about hunger? should we not pray the Our Father?).

    [An aside: As for miraculous cures of multitudes, I recall from today's (New Mass) readings a cure of hunger of a multitude of men formally assembled...]

  14. ShihanRob says:

    Funny thing,
    It rained in Mountain View, Ca last night. Coincidence?

    Rob

  15. Mike says:

    Quoth Father Z:

    Let us not fall into the trap being set for us by the secularist and liberal enemies of religion in the public square and, more specifically and virulently, of the Catholic Church.

    Or in the Church, which at least in America — the occasional calls for fortnights and novenas notwithstanding — seems to remain generally content, indeed (as in the performance of the works of mercy) even eager, for man’s relationship with Divine Providence to be subsumed by the whims of the State.

    Fears of being labeled “obsessive” be damned: Let us pray.

  16. majuscule says:

    It’s sort of raining right now! (Writing from the mountains that can be viewed from the Mountain View ShihanRob was speaking of above.)

    No mud yet, though.

    Pray harder.

  17. Julia2 says:

    Please bring back Ember Days!! 3 short days, four times a year. Prayer and fasting for a fruitful season (i.e. RAIN!) and for our priests. Both intentions seem to be terribly necessary always, but lately even more so. Even if the fasting is not required, merely suggested…please, bring back Ember Days! And Ember Days help us remember from where our food originates and those who labor to bring it to our tables. And we should also pray for those who labor in the fields on these days too. Seems that Ember Days could help foster more Solidarity too…