Blessing the farmers' seeds

May 04, 1997


Staff Writer

FAIRPLAY - Rogation Sunday may be a tradition rooted in the 16th century but parishioners at St. Mark's Episcopal Church on Lappans Road will revive the old custom today as the seeds of local farmers are blessed.

"Actually, rogation simply means to pray or to ask," said the Rev. Anne Weatherholt. But from earliest times, Christians have gathered in the spring to pray for the success of crops during planting seasons.

While this is the first time in many years the ceremony has been conducted at St. Mark's, it's not unheard of, Weatherholt said.


"I did some research and found there were prayers for good crops about 20 or so years ago, but there was no procession," she said.

Today, there will be a full rogation procession at 10 a.m. as the congregation leaves the church at 18313 Lappans Road and begins to "beat the bounds" of the church property.

That aspect fell out of use as churches became surrounded by towns and then cities, Weatherholt said.

The group will stop intermittently for prayers, led by the Rev. Robert Ihloff, bishop of the Episcopal Church of Maryland.

Ihloff also will be guest speaker at the 8, 9:15 and 11 a.m. services.

Small bags of blessed seed corn will be available for all members of the church to take home and use in their own gardens or to mix with their own corn for their fields.

The hymns and scripture lessons for the day will emphasize thankfulness to God for creation of the earth, Weatherholt said.

Usually rogation days are celebrated during the week of Ascension, the day Christians believe the risen Christ went up to heaven after Easter.

In 1559, under England's Queen Elizabeth I, rogation processions around the boundaries of parishes or local churches became a common expression of prayers for the fruitfulness of the earth.

In modern times, the rogation tradition more accurately reflects a Christian's desire to be a good steward of the environment, Weatherholt said.

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