California Farmer 228:10 (May 18, 1968), p. 26.
In the fifth century, Rogation Days began to be observed by the church. These were days of fasting before Ascension Sunday as signs of repentance for sins and supplications for a blessing on crops.
In America, however, very early a new meaning was added to Rogation Sunday in the Colonial period, a meaning which long remained as an important aspect of country life. Each spring on Rogation Sunday, farmers prayed for a good harvest, and pastor and people walked from the church into the fields to pray for God’s blessing on the planted crops.
But this was not all. In the evening, each farmer and his family walked the boundaries of their property and gave thanks for the good earth. As they walked the boundaries, the boy of the family was “bumped” against the landmarks, the boundary stone, or against a boundary tree. If a pond or stream marked the boundary, he was ducked into it. Then the boy who was bumped or ducked was given a small gift. The purpose of the “bumping” and of the gift was to make the boy remember the boundaries of the land he would someday fall heir to. Also, it made the family itself the guardian of the landmarks. As one family walked their landmarks, their neighbors across the line walked the same boundary line and bumped their boy against the same landmarks from the other side.
All this recalls the ancient Biblical practice as well as Solomon’s familiar verse: “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set” (Prov. 22:28). Each generation was summoned to honor the boundary marks, not only of the fields, but of moral law.
God’s law established a landmark for men to live by. Even as removing the boundary marks of a farm or ranch produces confusion, so any alteration of God’s landmarks, His law, produces confusion and anarchy. Scoundrels in ancient Israel went out by night and moved boundary stones and then plowed the field quickly so that the gain of a few feet would not be noticed. Over the years, this practice ate up their neighbor’s acres.
Today, politicians and preachers are continually moving God’s landmarks and steadily destroying all moral boundaries and moral order.
A national Rogation Day each spring would serve a good purpose if we could “bump” and duck our straying politicians, preachers, and people, and remind them of God’s boundaries. If we don’t, God will, and His “bumping” is one of the roughest possible nature.
Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916-2001) was the founder of Chalcedon and a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical Law to society.