May Journal, Rogation Sunday, Fifth Sunday after Easter

prayerRogation means asking and Rogation Sunday was traditionally a time when folks asked for God to bless their harvest. The seeds were in the ground and sprouting. By the end of summer, crops would be ripe for harvesting. So too, a mother gives birth to life at the end of a time of protected gestation, pregnancy, within her body, fed by her blood. So we ask God’s blessing on mothers today, an especially poignant timing, a time when Rogation coincides with Mother’s Day. 

Mothers sometimes do not want their children, sometimes kill the baby in the womb. Mothers are not always good, but those who accept this great gift, the chance to nurture life, are especially blessed. Like all of God’s gifts, children can be challenges. But also, like all of God’s gifts, children can be a great joy.

We celebrate today the mothers who said yes to God’s gift of life, just as Our Lady the Virgin Mary said yes to Angel Gabriel with her fiat, “Be it unto me according to your word.” In our frail humanity, we look to Mary to see how to mother, how to love, how to nurture, how to guide the glorious flowering of a child into an adult. It is a delicate balance, freedom and righteousness, freedom and boundaries, freedom and duty.

We celebrate all mothers who rise to the challenge, who say yes to God. For those who say no to new life, we pray they repent and embrace the joy of this gift.

There are mothers who say yes and mothers who say no. But there are also those who mother children not their own, children who become theirs. We see this especially in the life of the parish where all women are called to be mothers to all children and all men are called to be fathers.

In January 1977 I was a single parent with a four-year old son, a rambunctious towhead holding onto my skirts and peering around them in both fear and fascination with his world. We arrived on the steps of St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Oakland, California and ventured inside. The beauty, the incense, the candles, the chants, the joyous hymns all called me to stay and we did. Over the years the women of the parish mothered my son and the men mentored him. I shall always recall those times, times of great difficulty, yet times of great love, love born in this parish. My son grew up to become a fine father to his own son and daughter, and now it was my turn to mother the children that arrived on the steps of the church. I taught Sunday School, some of the most delightful moments of my life.

And so I sing praises to mothers who mother everywhere in all times and seasons.

Views_of_a_Foetus_in_the_Womb_detailAnd we ask for God’s blessing on the crops, on the seeds and the newborn, those who were chosen and given life. We ask that God forgive our nation and its great apostasy in the killing of the unborn, the seed denied a chance to mature and live. It is a great evil, a great lie, that this is somehow freedom. For such denial of life is slavery, slavery to self, slavery to desire.

We ask God to turn our hearts and minds to honor mothers and those who mother. We ask God to save our country from this infant genocide. We beseech Our Lady, so full of grace, so blessed among women, so blessed to bear the fruit of her womb, Jesus: Dear Holy Mother, pray for us now and at the hour of our death. Pray for us, Holy Mother of God, that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ, worthy of Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost.

Rogation Sunday marks the final days of Eastertide, culminated in Christ’s Ascension this Thursday. The next three days are traditionally days of fasting and prayer, and we offer all in the name of life. For Easter is the gift of eternal life, the gift of God the Son and his conquering death to give us life. We pray through these days, the culmination of fifty days, arriving at Christ’s Ascension to Heaven. He tells the disciples that He must go to the Father so that they may receive the Holy Spirit, the third person of God, on Pentecost, ten days after the Ascension.

AscensionGiotto.Scrovegni Chapel Padua 1304

Ascension by Giotto, the Scrovegni Chapel, Padua, Italy, 1304

It is such a rich, colorful time, these days of greenness and growth, these days of planting and prayer, these days of soaring under a sun lengthening the days, lightening our lives, these days of Mary’s month of May.

For the mystery of Christ is the mystery of God’s immense love for us. The mystery of the Holy Trinity, the three persons of God, is the mystery of God’s great bounty and his plan for each of us. In God the Father, He creates us and gives us life; in God the Son, He walks among us and shares his life with ours, dying and rising, so we can live with him now and forever; in God the Spirit, He enters our hearts and souls and minds, molding, nurturing, inspiring, leading. In all of these persons of God, we see an intelligence and a love beyond measure.

And so we pray our praises and our thanksgivings for the gift of life itself, and for all those mothers who mother.

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