It seems strange that there should be anything like mourning during Paschal Time: and yet these three days are days of penance. A moment’s reflection, however, will show us that the institution of the Rogation Days is a most appropriate one. True, our Savior told us, before his Passion, that the children of the Bridegroom should not fast whilst the Bride groom is with them: but is not sadness in keeping with these the last hours of Jesus’ presence on earth? Were not his Mother and Disciples oppressed with grief at the thought of their having so soon to lose Him, whose company had been to them a foretaste of heaven. Let us see how the Liturgical Year came to have inserted in its Calendar these three days, during which Holy Church, though radiant with the joy of Easter, seems to go back to her Lenten observances. The Holy Ghost, who guides her in all things, willed that this completion of her Paschal Liturgy should owe its origin to a devotion peculiar to one of the most illustrious and venerable Churches of southern Gaul: it was the Church of Vienne. The second half of the 5th century had but just commenced, when the country round Vienne, which had been recently conquered by the Burgundians, was visited with calamities of every kind. The people were struck with fear at these indications of God’s anger. St. Mamertus, who, at the time, was Bishop of Vienne, prescribed three days’ public expiation, during which the Faithful were to devote themselves to penance, and walk in procession chanting appropriate Psalms. The three days preceding the Ascension were the ones chosen. Unknown to himself, the holy Bishop was thus instituting a practice, which was afterwards to form part of the Liturgy of the universal Church. The Churches of Gaul, as might naturally be expected, were the first to adopt the devotion. St. Aleimus Avitus, who was one of the earliest successors of St. Mamertus in the See of Vienne, informs us that the custom of keeping the Rogation Days was, at that time, firmly established in his Diocese. St. Caesarius of Arles, who lived in the early part of the 6th century, speaks of their being observed in countries afar off; by which he meant, at the very least, to designate all that portion of Gaul which was under the Visigoths. That the whole of Gaul soon adopted the custom, is evident from the Canons drawn up at the first Council of Orleans, held in 511, and which represented all the Provinces that were in allegiance to Clovis. The regulations, made by the Council regarding the Rogations, give us a great idea of the importance attached to their observance. Not only abstinence from flesh-meat, but even fasting, is made of obligation. Masters are also required to dispense their servants from work, in order that they may assist at the long functions which fill up almost the whole of these three days.3 In 567, the Council of Tours, likewise, imposed the precept of fasting during the Rogation Days; and as to the obligation of resting from servile work, we find it recognized in the Capitularia of Charlemagne and Charles the Bald. The main part of the Rogation rite originally consisted, (at least in Gaul,) in singing canticles of supplication whilst passing from place to place, — and hence the word Procession. We learn from St. Caesarius of Arles, that each day’s Procession lasted six hours ; and that when the Clergy became tired, the women took up the chanting. The Faithful of those days had not made the discovery, which was reserved for modern times, that one requisite for religious Processions is that they be as short as possible. The Procession for the Rogation Days was preceded by the Faithful receiving the Ashes upon their heads, as now at the beginning of Lent; they were then sprinkled with Holy Water, and the Procession began. It was made up of the Clergy and people of several of the smaller parishes, who were headed by the Cross of the principal Church, which conducted the whole ceremony. All walked bare-foot, singing the Litany, Psalms and Antiphons. They entered the Churches that lay on their route, and sang an Antiphon or Responsory appropriate to each. Such was the original ceremony of the Rogation Days, and it was thus observed for a very long period. The Monk of St. Gall’s, who has left us so many interesting details regarding the life of Champagne, tells us that this holy Emperor used to join the Processions of these three Days, and walk bare footed from his palace to the Stational Church. We find St. Elizabeth of Hungary, in the 14th century, setting the like example: during the Rogation Days, she used to mingle with the poorest women of the place, and walked bare-footed, wearing a dress of coarse stuff. St. Charles Borromeo, who restored in his Diocese of Milan so many ancient practices of piety, was sure not to be indifferent about the Rogation Days. He spared neither word nor example to reanimate this salutary devotion among his people. He ordered fasting to be observed during these three Days; he fasted himself on bread and water. The Procession, in which all the Clergy of the City were obliged to join, and which began after the sprinkling of Ashes, started from the Cathedral at an early hour in the morning, and was not over till three or four o’clock in the afternoon. Thirteen Churches were visited on the Monday; nine, on the Tuesday; and eleven, on the Wednesday. The saintly Archbishop celebrated Mass and preached in one of these Churches. If we compare the indifference shown by the Catholics of the present age, for the Rogation Days, with the devotion wherewith our ancestors kept them, we cannot but acknowledge that there is a great falling off in faith and piety. Knowing, as we do, the importance attached to these Processions by the Church, we cannot help wondering how it is that there are so few among the Faithful who assist at them. Our surprise increases when we find persons preferring their own private devotions to these public Prayers of the Church, which to say nothing of the result of good example, merit far greater graces than any exercises of our own fancying.
The whole Western Church soon adopted the Rogation Days. They were introduced into England at an early period; so, likewise, into Spain, and Germany. Rome herself sanctioned them by her own observing them; this she did in the 8th century, during the Pontificate of St. Leo the Third. She gave them the name of the Lesser Litanies, in contradistinction to the Procession of the 25th of April, which she calls the Greater Litanies. With regard to the Fast which the Churches of Gaul observed during the Rogation Days, Rome did not adopt that part of the institution. Fasting seemed to her to throw a gloom over the joyous forty days, which our Risen Jesus grants to his Disciples; she therefore enjoined only abstinence from flesh-meat during the Rogation Days. The Church of Milan, which, as we have just seen, so strictly observes the Rogations, keeps them on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday after the Sunday within the Octave of the Ascension, that is to say, after the forty days devoted to the celebration of the Resurrection.
If, then, we would have a correct idea of the Rogation Days, we must consider them as Rome does, — that is, as a holy institution which, without interrupting our Paschal joy, tempers it. The purple vestments used during the Procession and Mass do not signify that our Jesus has fled from us, but that the time for his departure is approaching. By prescribing Abstinence for these three days, the Church would express how much she will feel the loss of her Spouse, who is so soon to be taken from her.
In England, as in many other countries, abstinence is no longer of obligation for the Rogation Days. This should be an additional motive to induce the Faithful to assist at the Processions and Litanies, and, by their fervently uniting in the prayers of the Church, to make some compensation for the abolition of the law of Abstinence. We need so much penance, and we take so little! If we are truly in earnest, we shall be most fervent in doing the little that is left us to do.
The object of the Rogation Days is to appease the anger of God, and avert the chastisements which the sins of the world so justly deserve; moreover, to draw down the divine blessing on the fruits of the earth.
The Litany of the Saints is sung during the Procession, which is followed by a special Mass said in the Stational Church, or, if there be no Station appointed, in the Church whence the Procession first started. The Litany of the Saints is one of the most efficacious of prayers. The Church makes use of it on all solemn occasions, as a means for rendering God propitious through the intercession of the whole court of heaven. They who are prevented from assisting at the Procession, should recite the Litany in union with holy Church: they will thus share in the graces attached to the Rogation Days; they will be joining in the supplications now being made throughout the entire world; they will be proving themselves to be Catholics.
The Mass of the Rogations, is the same for all three days. It speaks to us, throughout, of the power and necessity of prayer. The Church uses the Lenten color, to express the expiatory character of the function she is celebrating: but she is evidently full of confidence ; she trusts to the love of her Risen Jesus, and that gives her hope of her prayers being granted. For the convenience of the Faithful we also insert the Litany.
Dom Gueranger – The Liturgical Year
Litany of the Saints
Lord, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us
Lord, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of Virgins, pray for us.
St. Michael, pray for us.
All holy Angels and Archangels, pray for us.
All holy orders of blessed spirits, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, pray for us.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
All holy Patriarchs and Prophets, pray for us.
St. Peter, pray for us.
St. Paul, pray for us.
St. Andrew, pray for us.
St. James, pray for us.
St. John, pray for us.
St. Thomas, pray for us.
St. James, pray for us.
St. Philip, pray for us.
St. Bartholomew, pray for us.
St. Matthew, pray for us.
St. Simon, pray for us.
St. Thaddeus, pray for us.
St. Matthias, pray for us.
St. Barnabas, pray for us.
St. Luke, pray for us.
St. Mark, pray for us.
All holy Apostles and Evangelists, pray for us.
All holy Disciples of the Lord, pray for us.
All Holy Innocents, pray for us.
St. Stephen, pray for us.
St. Lawrence, pray for us.
St. Vincent, pray for us.
Fabian and Sebastian, pray for us.
John and Paul, pray for us.
Cosmas and Damian, pray for us.
Gervase and Protase, pray for us.
All holy Martyrs, pray for us.
St. Sylvester, pray for us.
St. Gregory, pray for us.
St. Ambrose, pray for us.
St. Augustine, pray for us.
St. Jerome, pray for us.
St. Martin, pray for us.
St. Nicholas, pray for us.
All holy Bishops and Confessors, pray for us.
All holy Doctors, pray for us.
St. Anthony, pray for us.
St. Benedict, pray for us.
St. Bernard, pray for us.
St. Dominic, pray for us.
St. Francis, pray for us.
All holy Priests and Levites, pray for us.
All holy Monks and Hermits, pray for us.
St. Mary Magdalen, pray for us.
St. Agatha, pray for us.
St. Lucy, pray for us.
St. Agnes, pray for us.
St. Cecilia, pray for us.
St. Catherine, pray for us.
St. Anastasia, pray for us.
All holy Virgins and Widows, pray for us.
All holy Saints of God, intercede for us.
Be merciful, Spare us, O Lord.
Be merciful, Hear us, O Lord.
From all evil, Spare us, O Lord.
From all sin, Spare us, O Lord.
From thy anger, Spare us, O Lord
From a sudden and unprovided death, Spare us, O Lord.
From the snares of the devil, Spare us, O Lord.
From anger, and hatred, and every evil will, Spare us, O Lord.
From the spirit of fornication, Spare us, O Lord.
From lightning and storms, Spare us, O Lord.
From the scourge of earthquake, Spare us, O Lord.
From plague, famine, and war, Spare us, O Lord.
From everlasting death, Spare us, O Lord.
Through the mystery of thy holy Incarnation, Spare us, O Lord.
Through thy Coming, Spare us, O Lord.
Through thy Birth, Spare us, O Lord.
Through thy Baptism and holy Fasting, Spare us, O Lord.
Through thy Cross and Passion, Spare us, O Lord.
Through thy Death and Burial, Spare us, O Lord.
Through thy holy Resurrection, Spare us, O Lord.
Through thy admirable Ascension, Spare us, O Lord.
Through the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, Spare us, O Lord.
In the day of Judgment, Spare us, O Lord.
We sinners, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst spare us, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst pardon us, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly bring us to true penance, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly govern and preserve thy holy Church, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly preserve in holy religion the Pope and all clerics in holy orders, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly humble the enemies of holy Church, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly give peace and true concord to Christian kings and princes, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly grant peace and unity to the whole Christian world, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst restore to the unity of the Church all who have strayed from the truth and lead all infidels to the light of the Gospel, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly confirm and preserve us in thy holy service, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly lift up our minds to heavenly desires, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly give eternal blessings to all our benefactors, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly deliver our souls, and the souls of our brethren, relations, and benefactors from eternal damnation, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly give and preserve the fruits of the earth, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly grant eternal rest to all the faithful departed, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst be so kind as to answer our prayers Son of God, We beg of thee, hear us.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us,
Christ, graciously hear us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.Lord, have mercy on us.
O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me.
Let them be confounded and ashamed that seek my soul:
Let them be turned backward, and blush for shame that desire evils to me: Let them be presently turned away blushing for shame that say to me: Tis well, tis well.
Let all that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee; and let such as love thy salvation say always: The Lord be magnified.
But I am needy and poor; O God, help me. Thou art my helper and my deliverer: O Lord, make no delay.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
SAINTS NEREUS, ACHILLEUS, DOMITILLA, AND PANCRAS
ROGATION TUESDAY – Lesser litanies
Semi-Double / Red Vestments
Missa ‘Ecce oculi’
INTROIT – Psalm 32: 18-20
Behold the eyes of the Lord are on them that fear Him, hoping in His mercy, alleluia: to deliver their souls from death; for He is our helper and protector, alleluia, alleluia. Ps. Rejoice in the Lord, ye just: praise becometh the upright. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Ecce óculi Dómini super timéntes eum, sperántes in misericórdia ejus, alleluia: ut erípiat a morte ánimas eórum: quóniam adjútor, et protéctor noster est, alleluia, alleluia. Ps. 32:1 Exsultáte, justi, in Dómino: rectos decet collaudátio. Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto. Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculórum. Amen
Let the blessed solemnity of Thy martyrs, Nereus, Achilleus, Domitilla, and Pancras, ever comfort us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, and render us worthy of Thy service. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.
2nd COLLECT IN HONOR OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN
Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that we thy ‘servants may enjoy constant health of body and mind; and by the glorious intercession of Blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, be delivered from all present sorrow, and come to that joy which is eternal.
3rd Collect AGAINST THE PERSECUTORS OF THE CHURCH
Mercifully hear, we beseech thee, O Lord, the prayers of thy Church: that, all oppositions and errors being removed, she may serve thee with a secure liberty. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
EPISTLE – Wisdom 5: 1-5
Then shall the just stand with great constancy against those that have afflicted them and taken away their labors. These seeing it, shall be troubled with terrible fear, and shall be amazed at the suddenness of their unexpected salvation, saying within themselves, repenting, and groaning for anguish of spirit: These are they whom we had some time in derision and for a parable of reproach. We fools esteemed their life madness and their end without honor; behold how they are numbered among the children of God, and their lot is among the Saints.
PASCHAL ALLELUIA – Psalm 88: 6
Alleluia, alleluia. This is a true brotherhood, which hath overcome the sins of the world: it hath followed Christ, laying hold upon the heavenly kingdom.
Alleluia. The white-robed army of martyrs praiseth Thee, O Lord.
GOSPEL – John 4: 46-53
At that time, there was a certain ruler whose son was sick at Capharnaum. He having heard that Jesus was come from Judæa into Galilee, went to Him, and prayed Him to come down, and heal his son for he was at the point of death. Jesus therefore said to him: Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not. The ruler saith to Him: Lord, come down before my son die. Jesus saith to him: Go on thy way, thy son liveth. The man believed the word which Jesus had said to him, and went his way. And as he was going down, his servants met him, and they brought word, saying that his son lived. He asked therefore of them the hour wherein he grew better. And they said to him: Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. The father therefore knew that it was at the same hour that Jesus said to him: Thy son liveth and himself believed, and his whole house.
Homily by Pope St Gregory the Great
Wherefore was it that when this nobleman besought the Lord to come down where his child died, the Lord (albeit He healed him) would not come, and yet, when the Centurion prayed Him to heal his servant, albeit not asked to come down, He went with them He deemed not that the nobleman’s son was worthy of His bodily presence, but He refused not to go to help the Centurion’s servant. What is this but a rebuke to earthly pride, which maketh us to respect in men their honours and riches rather than that Divine image wherein they are created It was not so with our Redeemer, who would not go to the son of the nobleman, but was ready to come down for the Centurion’s servant, to show that to Him the things which are great among men are but of little moment, and the things which are little esteemed among men are not beneath His notice.
Our pride then standeth rebuked, that pride which maketh us forget for the sake of one man that another man is a man at all. This pride, as we have said, looketh only at the surroundings of men, not at their nature, and seeth not that God is to be honored in a man because he is a man. Lo how the Son of God will not go unto the nobleman’s son, but is ready to go and heal the servant. Of myself I know that if any one’s servant were to ask me to go to him, I have a sort of pride which would say to me silently inside my heart Go not thou wilt lower thyself; the Papal dignity will be lightly esteemed thy exalted station will be degraded. Behold how He Which came down from heaven, doth not deem it below Him to go to help a servant, and yet I who am of the earth earthly, shrink from being trodden on.
Think not therefore within yourselves what ye have, but what ye are. Behold, the world which I love, is a world which passeth away. Those holy servants of God, by whose grave I am standing, ennobled themselves mentally above the world at its fairest. To them was offered length of days, robust health, plenty in possessions, fruitfulness in offspring, comfort under perpetual peace: and yet while the spring-tide of life was unfolding before them, their hearts had already condemned it to an arid winter. Behold, winter in their hearts, spring in mine Death, and pain, and barrenness occur all around me, I am attacked on all sides, and I feel very bitter, and yet the sting of fleshly lust so blindeth me, that I love the bitter feelings, I hunt after that which flees from me, and cling to that which would leave me.
OFFERTORY – Psalm 88: 6
The Heavens shall confess Thy wonders, O Lord, and Thy truth in the church of the saints. Alleluia, alleluia.
May these offerings, O Lord, loosen the bonds of our wickedness, and obtain for us the gift of thy mercy. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
2nd Secret IN HONOR OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN
By thine own mercy, O Lord, and the intercession of Blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, may this oblation procure us peace and happiness, both in this life, and in that which is to come.
3rd Secret AGAINST THE PERSECUTORS OF THE CHURCH
Protect us, O Lord, while we assist at thy sacred mysteries: that, being employed in acts of religion, we may serve thee, both in body and mind. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
PREFACE OF EASTER
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God: through Christ our Lord. Through Whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, the Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the Heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with them we entreat Thee, that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted, while we say in lowly praise:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dóminus, Deus Sábaoth. Pleni sunt coeli et terra glória tua. Hosánna in excélsis. Benedíctus, qui venit in nómine Dómini. Hosánna in excélsis.
COMMUNION Psalm 32: 1
Rejoice, ye just, in the Lord, alleluia: praise becometh the upright. Alleluia.
We beseech Thee, O Lord, that by the supplications of Thy blessed martyrs, Nereus, Achilleus, Domitilla, and Pancras, the holy sacraments which we have received may profit us for the increase of Thy favour. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
2nd POSTCOMMUNION IN HONOR OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN
Having received, 0 Lord, what is to advance our salvation; grant we may always be protected by the patronage of Blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, in whose honor we have offered this Sacrifice to thy Majesty.
3rd POSTCOMMUNION – AGAINST THE PERSECUTORS OF THE CHURCH
We beseech thee, O Lord our God, not to leave exposed to the dangers of human life, those whom thou hast permitted to partake of these divine mysteries. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.