25 April – St. Mark and the Major Rogation Day – Wherein Fr. Z rants

Years ago I was outside the Paul VI audience hall waiting for my bishop.  There were there various drivers, priests waiting for their bishops, newsies, etc.  An old Italian bishop, tired of the yakking inside the meeting of their conference, had come outside.   Since the German college inside the Vatican walls was just nearby, I described the beautiful Corpus Christi procession we had had in the Vatican Gardens, with Swiss Guards carrying the canopy.   The old man nodded with approval and growled:

“Meno chiacchiere – più processioni. … Less jabbering – more processions.”

Today, 25 April, the Feast of St. Mark, is when Holy Church traditionally had it’s “Major” Rogation Day, with the singing of litanies and a procession asking God to bless new crops, etc.

The “Minor” Rogation Days occur from Monday through Wednesday before Ascension Thursday… THURSDAY.

“Rogation” comes from rogo “to ask”.

The procession, which often went about the boundaries of a parish, was in England called the “beating of the bounds”.  This was very helpful back when there were no or few maps for keeping boundaries in the common knowledge.  Remembrance of boundaries were renewed each year.

This is a another wonderful ancient Catholic tradition which should be revived.

Holy Church’s calendar was, and in its traditional form, is, intimately bound up with the journey of your planet around its yellow star.

Præsta, quaesumus, omnípotens Deus: ut, qui in afflictióne nostra de tua pietáte confídimus, contra advérsa ómnia, tua semper protectióne muniámur.

Grant, we beseech Thee, O almighty God, that we, who in our affliction put our trust in Thy mercy, may ever be defended by Thy protection against all adversity.

I would add… “adversity from without and from within”.

I rather like this freer translation of the same:

Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that we who in our tribulation are yet of good cheer because of thy loving-kindness, may find thee mighty to save from all dangers.

Can you think of a better time than RIGHT NOW to have processions?

But no, our chiefs are all hunkered down inside.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    May all priests and deacons add these litanies to their prayers today.
    I wonder if the Church would have been weakened by dropping these prayers? Unless such official prayers are just play-acting, how could it be otherwise? How much of the present darkness is because of the reduction in the liturgical prayer of the Church on earth?

  2. Ms. M-S says:

    I’m trying to think of a way to have a virtual procession.

  3. Charles Sercer says:

    Amen, thanks for this thought, Father. I have been saying this for a while now: One of the major reasons for the problems within our Church today is that there has been a vast reduction, in the context of the liturgy (both Mass and Office), of prayers for the pope, of the intercession of Mary and all of the saints, and other various intentions that used to be required to be said on all ferias and lower-ranking saints’ feast days. I.e. required commemorations for collect/secret/postcomm, which changed according to the season. There was the “suffrage” of the saints (and, pre Pius X, many other suffrages) at all Ferial and lesser feasts’ Vespers and Lauds. Etc. Rogation days and Ember days are part of the same issue.

  4. Semper Gumby says:

    “I would add… “adversity from without and from within”.”

    “Can you think of a better time than RIGHT NOW to have processions?

    “But no, our chiefs are all hunkered down inside.”

    Sterling post Fr. Z.

    Most (but not all) bishops, including the Bishop of Rome, who are usually rather noisily ‘progressive,’ are straying into quietism during this Lockdown Moment. Yep, borrowed that phrasing from Fr. Neuhaus, here’s another: the ‘Naked Public Square’ (i.e. a society with its ‘sacred canopy’ of faith, virtue and family life removed).

    Presently, certain governors and mayors are rending the sacred canopy. So are numerous media outlets. Recently, the tedious Washington Post opined: “The Constitution’s First Amendment confers religious liberty….” George Weigel explains why that is incorrect:

    “By that unwieldy word “unalienable,” the Founders meant “rights” that were inherent in individuals by reason of their very humanity: rights that a just and rightly-ordered state was obliged to acknowledge and protect in both constitutional and positive law. That was a fundamental truth on which their forefathers had insisted in Magna Carta…”


    During this lockdown moment there is a renewed interest in homeschooling. The ‘progressive’ anti-homeschoolers see both a threat and an opportunity. John Zmirak tours the horizon and glimpses a possible uncivil break-up of these United States:

    “We’re Coming to Take Your Kids”

    “What else can it mean when Harvard conducts a conference whose agenda is banning homeschooling? When Harvard magazine publishes an article warning that parents are unfit to teach their own children, lest they pass on their bigoted religions? They think we’re unfit parents, and want to pass laws which, if we violate them, would lose us parental custody.

    “Can we live in the same country as people like that? Can they share one with us?”


    A few books on Faith and Liberty: Mark Levin “Liberty and Tyranny,” Gertrude Himmelfarb “One Nation, Two Cultures,” Robert Bork “Slouching to Gomorrah,” Thomas Sowell “Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy,” Anthony Esolen “Out of the Ashes,” Richard John Neuhaus “American Babylon” (don’t let the title throw you, Fr. Neuhaus has an outstanding point to make), Charles J. Chaput (Archbishop) “Strangers in a Strange Land.”

  5. Actually, if I am not mistaken, at least the Minor Litanies are listed in the new Missal as optional. I participated in them during a retreat at Rondol Monastery in France back when they still used the N.O. liturgy.

  6. Semper Gumby says:

    If I could add another title to my comment: Robert Reilly’s “America on Trial: A Defense of the Founding.”

    I have the book, haven’t had time to open it, but am told it’s an excellent read. Published by Ignatius Press a week or so ago.

  7. Semper Gumby says:

    Eric Sammons’ map has returned:


    That’s the spirit lads and lasses, that’s the spirit.

  8. L. says:

    Fr. PJM wrote rhetorically, “Unless such official prayers are just play-acting….” Based on recent evidence, it seems that all of the ceremonies of the church are just play-acting. I can go to liquor stores, gas stations, auto parts stores, or big-box building-supply stores and without undue risk interact with the store staff and other patrons, but I can’t go to Mass. Our Bishop seems fine with this situation. He says nothing but the public-service platitudes about our present situation. This suggests that what we used to do was not very important and no more than (very dull and dispiriting (pun intended)) play acting.

  9. Simon_GNR says:

    ‘The procession, which often went about the boundaries of a parish, was in England called the “beating of the bounds”.
    This is a another wonderful ancient Catholic tradition which should be revived.’

    You may be pleased to hear that some Anglican parishes in England revived this tradition many years ago. Sadly, one can rely on the Church of England to preserve and revive pre-Reformation Catholic traditions much more than one can the Catholic Church in England and Wales. An Anglican parish local to me, which happens to be one of the “Pilgrim Fathers” parishes, and in whose graveyard my father was buried, still has field names that the reflect the Rogation Sunday ceremonies: there is a Gospel Field, an Epistle Field and an Amen Corner, which is now a busy road junction whose name is still used by some local people.

  10. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    I hope this is a practical suggestion to answer the question, “How can we manage processions”

    1) In family groups, 6 feetly spaced from each other, start praying the rosary, or singing various processional chants. (The fact that some family groups will be more than 10 people big shouldn’t be a problem, though so long as those not in the same family are more than 6 feet apart)
    2) Being sure to have an umbrellino with clerics at each corner, so as to observe required distance, make sure that the Blessed Sacrament is adored in procession.
    3) Travel from parish to parish (in a metropolitan area), so that at each parish either the procession may expand or new people may give those too tired to continue a chance to rest.
    4) Begin (or end, or both) at the Cathedral. IF you have to clog the downtown streets, don’t worry, because there won’t be any cars around during the lock down anyway.

    Alternative suggestion: Some enterprising soul with a Jeep could give a priest (or a bishop) an opportunity to have the Blessed Sacrament driven slowly in procession through the streets of any area whatsoever, exposed in a monstrance.

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