Rogation Days (Latin rogare - 'to ask') are for many of us in the Church of England part of the old order of things, especially if you're not in a rurally blessed place, as they are days when fields are blessed and God's mercy is called upon all creation ask we get out there and 'ask' God.
I remember, as a choirboy, walking the boundaries of the parish and fields being blessed (with beer for the adults afterwards) as we 'beat the bounds'. There are some churches who still do this but it's business and indusry rather than agriculture that is the focus of the prayer for many. One of the odd bits of the 'beating the bounds' thing comes in the shape of hitting various markers (stones, trees and the like) with a stick and in some places, gently bopping a chorister's head, them being held upside down by the ankles, against a rock or marker stone. I remember asking one of the 'old' choristers (must have been in his forties) what it was all about. His response was that it taught us bits where the bounds of the parish were and got us to get out and pray in 'the patch'. Perhaps this is something we should be revisiting and making ours as that's not such a bad idea.
There are four Rogation Days: April 25th (St Mark's day) and the three days preceding the Ascension (which is always a Thursday so it's the Monday to Wednesday of Ascension week). The April rogation day is the 'major' rogation', the remainder are the 'minor'rogations. The period between April 25 and Ascension is referred to as 'rogationtide'.
These are the days when we as Church, pray (and fast) for those approaching ordination or priesting. This is especially vital in times approaching Petertide and Michaelmas - the main ordination persons - but I keep these days to pray especially for all engaged in training and for those testing their vocations.
Of late I find people use the ember days to pray for all who are engaged in church ministry and they also pray for vocations in the Church to become manifest.
Ember days are kept on the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of the weeks before Petertide (29th June) and Michaelmas (29th September) and also in the week preceding the third Sunday of Advent and the second Sunday of Lent.
"Thus says the LORD of hosts: The fast of the fourth month and the fast of the fifth and the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth shall be to the house of Judah seasons of joy and gladness and cheerful feasts. Therefore love truth and peace."
I recall a liturgy lecture where the above passage was linked to Ember days - makes sense I guess.
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