JUST TOO COOL! “Beating of the Bounds!”

This is for your Just Too Cool file.

My friend and a commentator here, Fr. Martin Fox has on his blog a post about starting the custom of the “Beating of the Bounds”.  In times past, around Ascension or the Rogation Days parishes would have a procession around the boundary of the parish, asking God to bless them and crops, etc.  This was useful in times when maps were rare: boundaries were remembered.

Since Fr. Fox’s parish has a really long boundary, they will break up the “beating” over several years.   This is a great solution.  I had wondered how to revive the custom given really large parish territories.

Do go to visit Fr. Fox’s blog and read about it.

Here is a taste:

Yesterday afternoon, Saint Remy Parish revived a tradition from medieval England, and brought it to the fields surrounding the farm community of Russia, Ohio.

Over 100 men and boys answered my invitation to exercise spiritual leadership and guardianship over the parish with a “Men’s Prayer Walk.” So, yes, this was specifically pitched to men. (One girl did make it, however: a father brought his infant daughter along.)


I involved several men of the parish as my “wise men”: one took charge of transportation; one took responsibility for food and drink, and a third handled set up and clean up. Several others pitched in with help and ideas — such as games for the boys (what a great idea!).

My hope and plan was for 50 participants; we more than doubled that. Several men who took part didn’t walk; instead, they rode in a golf cart. A number of the boys were in strollers, and some ended up riding their dads’ back part or most of the time.

One of the ideas I came up with was to give the boys chalk, and a diagram for them to draw on the street as we went along. What I came up with looked like this:

S. R.
2 | 0
1 | 6
O. P. N.

And in case you are wondering, that is meant to show a cross, surrounded by this year’s date, and the words, Sancte Remigii, ora pro nobis, or in English, Saint Remy, pray for us.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Patti Day says:

    Brilliant. What a great turnout.

  2. Gilbert Fritz says:

    We didn’t beat the bounds, but we did have a Rogation day procession and a blessing of an urban farm here in Littleton, CO.

  3. PA mom says:

    Literal going to the periphery!

    Love it!

  4. Batfink says:

    It’s quite common here in the UK in Anglican parishes. I’ve never seen it amongst Catholics (it would probably be complicated by the established church thing) but it would be cool if we did.

  5. rcg says:

    And just so you know that is a lot of people. Russia (pronounced “roo-SHEE”) is not demsly populated at all.

  6. michele421 says:

    Great idea! Next year it should be a prayer walk for everyone.

  7. cwillia1 says:

    Russia is a very interesting community, overwhelmingly Catholic and rural. The entire area in west central Ohio is distinctive.

  8. pannw says:

    I love the idea of a special walk for men, fathers, sons, brothers… Anything that builds camaraderie and gets/keeps men involved in parish life. As much as I, a woman, would love to see it, since I can not be a bird on a wire watching, I will be happy to hear tales of it, and see pictures. Manly times and things for manly men, training up their sons to be men who love Our Lord. I love it.

    I wish we did more processions and hopefully this will spread. There are plenty of Feasts and reasons for having a Procession. Plenty to go around so that there can still be at least one for men only.

    Way to go, Father Fox!

  9. Thanks for the plug, Father, and the kind words by all.

    Michele – this is going to stay a men-and-boys event. I would like to have an event for women and girls as well. Any suggestions?

  10. Mike says:

    There’s an easy way to make this happen: Tell a group of rad-trads (among whom, for the sake of this argument at least, I’ll count myself) that it can’t be done. Then get out of their way.

  11. WYMiriam says:

    What a superb idea!

    May I tweak this idea for parish boundaries and suggest that families do the same sort of thing with their own property? (Of course, that requires knowing where your boundaries are to start with, so fathers, please please PLEASE show your children at least where the corners of your land are!!!*)

    I can’t take credit for this idea; on Palm Sunday this year I met a couple of men whose families have the tradition of putting a blessed palm at each corner of their property and saying a special prayer there.

    * can you tell that *my* father didn’t do this? :-) And oh how I wish he had!

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