We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, who are still here, and we honor with gratitude the land itself and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

Connecting the dots – Mother’s Day, Rogation and the Gospel this week

By Ruth Fray. Ruth is Director, Community Program and Public Life, Faith Formation & Education at Trinity Church Wall Street. 

“The Gospel this week seems to be made for Mother’s Day: it is all about love. Jesus embodies love and teaches love. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

“When we imagine a mother’s love, we often think of it as unconditional, steadfast, and unwavering. Of course, we know that isn’t always the case. But when we try to envision a human way of loving that gives us a glimpse of what Jesus is calling us to, a mother’s love is a good place to start.

“The origins of Mother’s Day also resonate with the Gospel and our world today. Before the Civil War, Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis, a faithful Christian in West Virginia, organized Mothers’ Day Work Clubs that sought to improve sanitary conditions. They raised money for medicine and helped families with mothers suffering from tuberculosis, among other supports.

“During the war, Ann Jarvis made sure the Mothers’ Day Work Clubs provided relief to both Union and Confederate soldiers. After the war, with tensions still high between those who fought on opposite sides, she “organized a Mothers’ Friendship Day…to bring together soldiers and neighbors of all political beliefs.” It was a great success despite the fear of violence.

“As we sort through the loss and pain from the pandemic amidst intense political and social division in our country, I often wonder, “What do we do now?”

Ruth’s question, “What do we do now ?” is to celebrate what has remained true, a source of inspiration and devotion. That is creation and in particular, the Land. God created the earth out a void without form and is the foundation of our life.

On this Rogation Sunday, we recognize our dependence upon the land for our food and most importantly upon our dependence of God for the miracles of sprouting seeds, growing plants, and maturing harvest.

And like the Pandemic there were disasters. The Rogation Days, the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Ascension Day, originated in Vienne, France in 470 after a series of natural disasters had caused much suffering among the people. Rogation takes place in the springtime, when there is a renewing of the earth. It takes place after the resurrection which also emphasizes renewal.

The Latin word ‘rogare’ means “to ask”, thus these were “rogation” processions. The tradition grew of using processional litanies, often around the parish boundaries, for the blessing of the land. These processions concluded with a mass. The Rogation procession was suppressed at the Reformation, but it was restored in 1559. The poet George Herbert interpreted the procession as a means of asking for God’s blessing on the land, of preserving boundaries, of encouraging fellowship between neighbors with the reconciling of differences, and of charitable giving to the poor. The tradition of ‘beating the bounds’ has been preserved in some communities.