By RENEE WEBB, Globe senior reporter
The history in the observance of these days is rooted in the days leading up to the Feast of the Ascension. Rogation Days will be observed by the church this year May 26-29.
Father Brent Lingle, director of the Office of Worship, pointed out that while these days were taken out of the official church calendar after Vatican II, he explained that it was left up to the individual dioceses whether to celebrate.
“Rogation Days is a time the church sets aside for prayer to ask God specifically for protection against evil, storms and, since it coincides with the springtime planting, it’s also a time to ask for the blessings upon agriculture and farming,” he said.
These days on the liturgical calendar are days of prayerful petition to God for his mercy and blessings upon all of creation.
The Office of Worship recently sent out information about Rogation Days to parishes. Father Lingle has once again posted materials on the diocesan webpage under the worship tab.
“That includes materials for various blessings such as the Blessing of Fields and Flocks, Seeds and Plants, Tools and Equipment and Animals,” he said. “We certainly encourage our parishes to mark these days by offering these special prayers and blessings, especially those that are in rural communities.”
Father Lingle last year was prompted to post these blessings on the website by the Diocesan Peace and Justice Commission because the group is always looking for ways to build up and strengthen the rural way of life.
Rosemary Paulsen, chair of the Diocesan Peace and Justice Commission, explained that the commission uses the seven Catholic social teachings as guides for what they do.
“If you look at the teachings, it reminds us to take care of God's creation. We all eat and we supply food to the peoples of the world,” she said. “The poor of the world must not be forgotten, it is our mission to feed and care for them. Farming is a vocation that takes care of God's earth, water, animals and people. They are good stewards.”
Paulsen said we must pray for the safety of our farmers especially during this busy time of year.
“We must never forget that all belongs to God and we need to give him praise and thanksgiving,” she said. “St. Isidore is the patron of rural people and there is a novena that can be prayed in our churches or in our homes.”
The peace and justice advocate said the Catholic Rural Life Conference is a great resource.
“The Sioux City Diocese is a rural area and we all need to eat and be aware where this food comes from and again respect all that God has given us,” Paulsen said. “Pope John Paul II, now St. Pope John Paul, told a crowd of 340,000 people in Des Moines in 1979 that ‘it is man's responsibility to serve as its stewards and conserve it well.’”
Prayers are needed this year in particular, she noted, due to drought conditions that continue in some areas of the diocese such as southern counties.
Some parishes have already held special services to mark the days.
The St. Mary’s eighth grade students in Remsen planned the liturgy held May 7, Rogation Day Mass. The students led in the key roles of serving as music ministers, and provided intentions, Scripture readings, etc.
Father Bill McCarthy gave a homily about the work of farming and blessed the soil. At the end of Mass the farmers gathered to take a portion of the blessed soil home to spread on their fields, and parishioners were invited to take the blessed soil to spread on their vegetable or flower gardens.
At Holy Trinity Parish in Webster County, the clergy there have made themselves available for blessing of fields this month.
“If parishes do not have particular things planned, we would encourage families to mark these days with special prayers for favorable weather, safety in the fields and for a bountiful harvest,” said Father Lingle.
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