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Celebrating Farming And Trusting In God

The faithful process into the sanctuary after beginning in the St. Bernard Rosary Garden with the Litany of St Isidore the Farmer.

Bishop Joseph M. Siegel celebrated the Diocese of Evansville’s annual Rogation Mass on March 26 at St. Bernard Parish in Snake Run. The Mass focused on the legacy and importance of farming across our 12 counties and around the world – and the importance of trusting in God in all things.

Father John Boeglin, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Jasper and Diocesan Director of Rural Life, took an impromptu survey at the end of Mass and learned that six of the diocese’s 12 counties were represented at the Mass – Dubois, Gibson, Posey, Spencer, Vanderburgh and Warrick. Father Boeglin concelebrated the Mass with Bishop Siegel, St. Bernard Pastor Father Brian Emmick and Father Ambrose Wanyonyi, Associate Pastor of St. James Parish in Haubstadt, Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Haubstadt and Holy Cross Parish, Fort Branch.

In his homily, Bishop Siegel talked about the deep roots of the Rogation Mass in Church history. It dates back to the 5th Century. He explained that the Mass is typically celebrated around the planting season and is an opportunity to ask God’s blessing of the soil and seeds, and blessing farmers and their efforts in producing food for our tables and for people around the world.

Having grown up on a farm, Bishop Siegel noted that the challenges of farming life include many elements that are beyond our control – like the weather and dynamic market prices. As a result, he noted that farming reminds us of the need to trust in God. He acknowledged that we all work hard at what we do, but farm families – and all of us – must put everything in God’s hands.

Farming’s cycle of planting and harvesting points us to the mystery of our birth, life and death, he said – and to the paschal mystery of death and resurrection that is at the core of our faith.  Bishop Siegel noted that we especially focus on those mysteries during Lent, Holy Week and Easter.

Turning to the day’s Mass readings, the bishop talked about forgiveness – the focus of the readings from Daniel and the Gospel of Matthew. He said they speak on the importance of forgiveness, especially as we prepare for Easter – not only seeking God’s forgiveness, but also contemplating our own ability to forgive.

Bishop Siegel suggested that our prayers for God’s forgiveness will be granted – to the extent that we are willing to forgive. He noted the Lord’s Prayer, where we pray, “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

He added that Lent offers a great opportunity to examine our relationships, looking for resentment against others and grudges we might be holding. Bishop Siegel encouraged everyone to pray for the grace necessary to consciously and sincerely forgive others from the heart.

The bishop concluded by saying that we must strive not to put conditions and limits on our compassion and mercy, so that we might experience the unconditional and unlimited compassion and mercy of God.     

The Mass began outside in the St. Bernard Parish Rosary Garden on the east side of the church. Everyone prayed the Litany of St. Isidore the Farmer before processing around the church and into the sanctuary where Mass continued with the Litany of the Saints before the Liturgy of the Word.

After Mass, everyone gathered in the St. Bernard Parish Hall, where Bishop Siegel blessed small bags of soil and seeds that people brought with them, and sprinkled them with holy water. Diocesan Director of Worship Matt Miller, who served as Master of Ceremonies for the Mass, also provided booklets with prayers of blessing that families could say at home as the new farming season begins. Small bottles of holy water were available, and many took some with them to use with the prayers of blessing.

At the conclusion of the Mass, Father Boeglin announced that the 2020 Rogation Mass has been scheduled for March 24, 2020, at St. James Parish in Haubstadt. St. Mary Parish in Ireland will host the 2021 Rogation Mass in its new St. Marcy Church.

The Message photos by Tim Lilley