Letter from Father Sullivan
“Cry out with joy to God, all the earth, O sing to the glory of his name. O render him glorious praise, alleluia.” Psalm 66:1-2
Today is the Feast of Saint Mark, the author of the second Gospel and the disciple of Saint Peter, the first among the Apostles.
Early Church Father’s recalled Saint Mark compiled his Gospel by recording the sermons and teaching of Saint Peter. The Acts of the Apostles relate after the Council of Jerusalem Mark accompanied the Apostle Barnabas to preach the Gospel in Crete. A number of years later, Mark journeyed to Alexandria where he established the Church. In Alexandria, around the year 68, he was dragged by Alexandrian pagans through the streets by a rope around his neck until he was dead to put an end to his witness to Jesus. (The Greek word for witness is martyr.)
While not well known in this moment, Saint Mark’s feast is celebrated as a Rogation Day.
The English word “rogation” comes from the Latin verb “rogare,” to ask.
Rogation days are celebrated with a procession by the Christian faithful while singing the Litany of Saints and the Penitential psalms asking for God’s blessing and mercy upon his people. The first Rogation procession was initiated by Pope Saint Gregory the Great (died 604 AD) in the city of Rome after the end of a great plague.
In more recent centuries, Rogation Days became associated with processions to mark the boundaries of the parish and to ask God’s blessing upon the fields for a bountiful harvest as farmers were preparing for planting.
The Major Rogation Day on the Feast of Saint Mark was followed by “minor” Rogation Days on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before Ascension Thursday.
This evening I prayed the Litany of the Saints in our chapel asking for God’s blessing and mercy, through Saint Mark’s intercession, on all us as we continue to journey through this pandemic. Remembering all healthcare workers, those who are sick and their families and friends, the elderly, the young, the most susceptible, those who are staying-in-place, all who are assisting us by providing food and necessary services–and farmers and other agriculture workers– by giving the labor and the witness of their lives to the common good, the wellbeing of their neighbors and the great dignity which is God’s inherent gift to all human life.
From my heart to yours, in the hearts of Jesus and Mary—
Peace and blessing,