Today is Rogation Sunday; one of the more obscure festivals in the church’s calendar. Like a lot of what we do, it has its origins in Roman times. On April 25th, worshippers would walk to a grove near Rome where they would sacrifice a dog to Rogibus, the god of wheat rust, the main plant disease that worried farmers at the time. Some scholars express surprise that a plant pathogen really merited its own, dog-hating deity. Whatever the truth (the name “rogation” may simply come from the Latin rogare, meaning “to ask” and the event be an amalgamation of a number of crop-blessings that took place at this time of year), after being Christianised, rogation emerged in a dog-friendly form, where the priest and congregation would walk round the boundaries of the parish, blessing the recently sown crops on their way and also making sure neighbouring parishes had not engaged in any land grab. This was thirsty work and so much ale was consumed; perhaps the reason the festival was not encouraged by many in authority. In more recent times it has come back into fashion, partly as an excuse for a walk in the country, but also as a time for us to give thanks for the work of farmers in preparing the land and sowing crops and to pray that we might be responsible stewards of nature; to work with the earth and not abuse it. In Billingsley and the other rural parishes in our benefice we have been fortunate to have access to the countryside during lock-down; the local farmers I have spoken to have been equally thankful that they have largely been able to continue with their work, despite challenges ahead. So please give thanks for their work, for the fruitfulness of fields and gardens and, if you are able, also reflect on the God who sustains all of nature.
A prayer from Sam Setchell of Worcester Diocese:
Remember, Lord, your mercy and loving-kindness towards us. Bless this good earth, and make it fruitful. Bless our labour, and give us all things needed for our daily lives. Bless the homes of our parish and all who live within them. Bless our common life and our care for our neighbour. Hear us, good Lord. Amen.
No dogs were harmed in the making of this blog.