Rogation and Ascension

Source: Rogation and Ascension

A wonderfully complete and informative treatment of Rogationtide, and the upcoming feast of the Ascension, from the excellent Anglican-focused blog, “Full Homely Divinity.” Especially noteworthy: helpful suggestions and recommendations for the liturgical celebration of this Feast, including the Rogation Procession.

Some of the historical notes are interesting, too, such as this:

“The route of the walk was around the boundaries of the parish, which was a civil as well as a religious unit. Thus, the processions were useful in teaching people, particularly the young, their parish boundaries. Known as ‘beating the bounds,’ the processions customarily stopped at boundary marks and other significant landmarks of the parish, such as a venerable tree, or a great rock, or perhaps a pond.

“The priest would read the Gospel and perhaps affix a cross to the landmark. Then the boys of the parish would suffer some indignity intended to help them remember the spot. Boys were bumped about against rocks and trees, thrown into the water, held upside-down over fences, thrown into bramble patches, or beaten with willow wands – and then given a treat in compensation. In later times, the marchers beat the boundary marker with the willow wands, beating the bounds, rather than the boys.”

I suspect the village lads may have appreciated the change! But whether they remembered the boundaries as well is open to question…

Wishing all a happy, holy, and blessed Rogation Sunday, and Rogationtide!

Rogation-Sunday
Circa 1950: The vicar and Sunday school children go out into the fields to bless the crops. The little boy is carrying a symbolic tree of plenty.

So, what are Rogation Days, and what is Rogation Sunday?

Here’s one account:

Traditionally, these are the three days before Ascension Day on which the litany is sung (or recited) in procession as an act of intercession. They originated in Vienne, France, in the fifth century when Bishop Mamertus introduced days of fasting and prayer to ward off a threatened disaster. In England they were associated with the blessing of the fields at planting. The vicar “beat the bounds” of the parish, processing around the fields reciting psalms and the litany. In the United States they have been associated with rural life and with agriculture and fishing.”

The 1979 Prayer Book “widened their scope to include commerce and industry and the stewardship of creation,” which I personally believe is an appropriate and salutary expansion of the tradition.

And here’s another:

“Rogation” means “asking,” which is a theme particularly prominent in the Gospel text for this Sunday (St. John 16:23-33). We call this Sunday “Rogation Sunday” because the 3 days which follow it are ancient Rogation Days, these being the 3 days leading up to the great Feast of the Ascension of our Lord (a much neglected holy day!)… Rogation Days are days of prayerful supplication before God. In the agrarian culture of yesterday, it was common for the church to gather on the Rogation Days to ask God to bless the crops being sown. We would have asked Him to send rain and to bless us with a good harvest later in the year. Often the prayers would have been said (or sung) as the church processed around the boundary lines of the parish. It is from the Rogation Day prayers (as found in the Sarum Sacramentary) that Archbishop Cranmer formulated the Litany (1545), which was his first work of liturgical reform.

So to sum up: Rogation Sunday, and the three traditional Rogation Days which follow, leading up to the Ascension, are days of supplication and prayer for God’s blessing and protection upon us in the year ahead, with a special focus on the fruits of agriculture, on which we all rely for our survival. To my mind, it has always provided a suitable opportunity, within the Calendar of the Church, to turn our grateful attention to God’s tremendous gift to us of this good Earth, our physical home and the material source and sustainer of our continued existence, to express our thanks to God for this great gift, and to pray for its continued well-being, and ours.

May God grant us a blessed Rogationtide!

Joan of Arc – Maid of Heaven – Joan of Arc & Robert E. Lee

Joan of Arc – you have heard her name, do you really know her story? The famous sword of Robert E. Lee contains one of St. Joan of Arc’s famous quotes: “Aide toi, Dieu t’aidera” – which means “aid yourself and God will aid you.”

Source: Joan of Arc – Maid of Heaven – Joan of Arc & Robert E. Lee

At last! Provenance for this. Sometimes rendered – and often quoted to me by my mother – as “the Lord [or God] helps those who help themselves,” it does not appear in the Scriptures, but is (or used to be) a fairly common axiom. I had not realized that it was from St. Jean d’Arc (Joan of Arc). Nor did I realize the Robert E. Lee connection! As the linked essay recounts:

There are many similarities between St. Joan of Arc and Robert E. Lee, the two most obvious being that they were both great generals and they both possessed incredible faith in God. How appropriate, then, that Robert E. Lee’s famous presentation sword, the one that he wore during his meeting with Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, is engraved on one side with one of Saint Joan’s most famous quotes and spiritual truths:

“Aide toi et Dieu t’aidera”

(“Aid yourself and God will aid you”)

But there is more, which makes this especially meaningful to me, personally: this account confirms what I thought I understood: that the sword General Lee was wearing when he surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse – a moment which must have been among the most, if not the very most, painful moments of his life – was the “Maryland Sword”:

This particular sword was a gift from an admirer who lived in Maryland. It was presented to him in 1863. It is said to have been commissioned in Paris by Louis-Francois Devisme. The giver of the gift has been lost over the years but the sword has been preserved and refurbished to its original state. The sword is forty and one-half inches in length, possessing a lion’s head on the pommel and has an ivory grip. The blade is inscribed, “Gen. Robert E. Lee CSA from a Marylander 1863.” The scabbard is of blued steel. Both pieces are flawless and priceless. Its beauty is something to be seen to be appreciated.

That the Sword of General Lee, the Maryland Sword, is also in a sense a Sword of St. Joan of Arc raises the hair on the back of my neck – but in a good way, a very good way! The essay’s author continues:

My thoughts are how many times Lee as a Christian in gazing upon the words [“Aide toi Dieu t’aidera”] did he think about the saying and use it as motivation to continue? During adversity, surrender and even death, those words inscribed upon that sword must have been recalled and shared with others.

I doubt it not. Amen, and amen!

Sadly, according to reports, some within “Take ’em down NOLA” – the main group behind the removal of four Confederate monuments from the city, which is dedicated to the removal or renaming of all “symbols of white supremacy,” so-called – are targeting not only Andrew Jackson, the hero of the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812, but the “Maid of Orleans”: Joan of Arc herself (*). Will idiocy never end? The lunatics, it seems, are running the asylum!

(* Jean d’Arc does not appear on this, supposedly “official,” list, but reports suggest that she may be on an unofficial list of “Take ’em down NOLA” targets. Sadly, I would not be a bit surprised!)

Wisdom from our Roman Catholic brethren

vitruvian_man - Da Vinci

“The human body shares in the dignity of ‘the image of God’: it is a human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul, and it is the whole human person that is intended to become, in the body of Christ, a temple of the Spirit: Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity. Through his very bodily condition he sums up in himself the elements of the material world. Through him they are thus brought to their highest perfection and can raise their voice in praise freely given to the Creator. For this reason man may not despise his bodily life. Rather he is obliged to regard his body as good and to hold it in honour since God has created it and will raise it up on the last day.”

— Catechism of the Catholic Church, ❡❡ 364

Far too many Christians fall into the Gnostic heresy of devaluing the material world, including the human body, and believing that only “things spiritual” have ultimate worth. Do not be like them!

History Prof: ‘Cultural Cleansing’ to Tear Down Confederate Monuments | LifeZette

Source: History Prof: ‘Cultural Cleansing’ to Tear Down Confederate Monuments | LifeZette

Many of us have been deeply concerned by what some have called “the purge of Southern culture,” the current version of which began in 2015: ostensibly in reaction to, and certainly enabled by, the mass murder of church members in Charleston, SC, by a despicable psychopath. But the situation may be – indeed, almost certainly is – even worse than it appears on the surface:

“The removal of all things Confederate is complicated,” said Dr. Marshall De Rosa, a political science professor at Florida Atlantic University and expert on the Civil War.

“Some support stems from sheer ignorance about what those monuments represent,” said De Rosa, referring to those who see Confederate monuments as inherently racist. Others, however, are apparently motivated by far more sinister, ideological motives, he said.

“It’s a form of cultural cleansing that will not stop at Confederate memorials,” De Rosa warned. “There are discussions to tear down the Jefferson Memorial, rename Washington, D.C., change the U.S. flag, etc.,” De Rosa noted.

“The purpose is to make Americans, specifically white Christian Americans, ashamed of their ancestors, if not themselves,” De Rosa told LifeZette. “This makes them much more vulnerable to manipulation by and capitulation to the policy demands of the Left and their globalist supporters.”

Many of us thought – or at least hoped – that this sort of thing would end following the defeat and collapse of the atheistic, globalistic Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact satellites. Unfortunately it has sprung up once more, under slightly outward forms, within the United States and Western Europe themselves. I am reminded of J.R.R. Tolkien’s warning,

Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.

Or St. Paul’s (Ephesians 6:12): “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

So, sadly, it seems to be.

Let us then heed also St. Peter’s admonition (1 Peter 5:8-9): “Be sober, be watchful; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist, steadfast in the faith.”

The Official Catholic Beer Blessing | The Catholic Gentleman (slightly modified…)

Source: The Official Catholic Beer Blessing | The Catholic Gentleman

Now, who – Roman Catholic or otherwise – can help liking this…?

One of the great things about being Catholic is that the Church has quite literally thought of everything at some point or another. Some inventive cleric even thought to include a beer blessing in the Rituale Romanum… Creation is good. Beer is good. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

And one of the great things about being Anglican is that one can reasonably “borrow” things from both “sides” – Roman Catholic and Reformed (not to mention Eastern Orthodox, just ask the Scots Non-Jurors who ordained Samuel Seabury and provided the American Church with the model for our classic Prayer of Consecration) – so long as they do not conflict with the Book of Common Prayer and the XXXIX Articles!

Here is a version of the beer blessing slightly modified to suit Anglican sensibilities, and to turn it into a prayer that can be said by lay-persons:

V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who madest both heaven and earth.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.

O Lord our God, who dost cause grain to spring up from the earth for our sustenance: do thou bless, we pray thee, this thy creature beer, which thou hast deigned to produce from that thy good gift of grain, fruit of the earth and product of human labour, that it may be a salutary remedy to the human race; and grant, for thy mercy’s sake, that whomsoever shall drink of it may gain both health in body and peace in soul: Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

V. Let us bless the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us and remain with us, now and always. Amen.

For the original forms, in both English and Latin, click through to the linked blog post!

Europe: What Happens to Christians There Will Come Here

“Be careful, be very careful. What has happened here will come to you.” — An elderly priest in Iraq, to Father Benedict Kiely. Last year, more than 90,000 people chose to drop out of the Church of Sweden – almost twice as many as the year before.

Source: Europe: What Happens to Christians There Will Come Here

Second of two timely – and distressing – posts from the Gatestone Institute.

“I fear we are approaching a situation resembling the tragic fate of Christianity in Northern Africa in Islam’s early days”, a Lutheran bishop, Jobst Schoene, warned a few years ago.

In ancient times, Algeria and Tunisia, entirely Christian, gave us great thinkers such as Tertullian and Augustine. Two centuries later, Christianity had disappeared, replaced by Arab-Islamic civilization.

Is Europe now meeting the same fate?

It doesn’t have to happen. But it most certainly could – and likely will, if current trends and practices continue. Do you want to see this turned into a mosque? With a muezzin giving the call to Moslem prayer from the dome cupola? Because that’s what could be coming:

Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Dresden, called in German Katholische Hofkirche or Kathedrale Sanctissimae Trinitatis.

Or imagine what Moslems, with their hatred of religious imagery, would do to this church interior:

We need to be vigilant – more than vigilant – to defend our Christian and Western civilization, its heritage, its traditions and values, and yes, its physical artifacts from any and all that would seek to destroy them. Because no one else is going to do it for us!