Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Blessing the Fields

May 21 was Rogation Sunday, an observance coming before Ascension Day, or Holy Thursday. On Rogation Sunday, it was the custom for churchgoers to walk the boundaries of their parishes--"beating the bounds" was the old phrase. Clergy and people would process, blessing the fields and asking protection for the year to come. (The word "rogation" is derived from the Latin "rogare"--"to ask.")

Early spring processions predated the Christian era, but, along with other ancient customs, they were absorbed into the church calendar.

Probably few congregations walk the parish boundaries today--those attending metropolitan churches would have difficulty knowing what those boundaries are. But a few years ago, St. James, on Vancouver's downtown east aside, did observe Rogation Sunday in the old manner, and many church members walked the boundaries, which stretch from Cordova and Gore to Commercial Drive, over the First Avenue Bridge, along Terminal Avenue, and north on Main Street.

Some of us ran the route, and were happy to see a parish refreshment stand by the VIA Rail Station, and happier still to arrive back at the church, to find St. James priests grilling hotdogs and hamburgers behind the Clergy House.

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