Rogation of the Ninevites…

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The following is a copy and paste of a post made by Fr. Dimitri Grekoff.  It explains what the “Rogation/Fast of the Ninevites” is and why…

Mar Sabrisho’ and the other bishops recommended the fast to the Patriarch Ezekiel who approved it for the entire Church.  This would have been somewhere in 570-580 AD.  It seems that the first two days readings are from the writings of St. Ephrem.  The fact that the Fast of the Ninevites is kept in the Chaldean/Assyrian, Coptic, Ethiopian and the Syriac Orthodox churches, and the usage of writings of St. Ephrem, hints that this fast was something that was practiced in early times, before the split of the various particular churches.  The third day’s poems are from St. Narsai.  Mar Ephrem and Mar Narsai both have the title “the harp of the Spirit” in our church tradition.

Without further delay, here’s the copy-and-paste.

THE ROGATION OF THE NINEVITES

The Reason for the Rogation
The first reason for the Rogation which our Church of God observes is this: There was a petitioning of the Ninevites which at the time took place as a result of the preaching of the prophet Jonah, during which they appointed a fast and clothed themselves in sackcloth, as it is written; and when God saw their repentance he turned from them the heat of his wrath and did not destroy them.
Also there is another reason for which a Rogation is observed at this time among these Assyrians: There was a pestilence, which is called in the world “the plague”, which took place at one time in the kingdom of the Persians, in these our lands, during the days of Mar Sabrisho‘, the metropolitan-bishop of Beit Slokh. It came about because of the multitude of men’s sins, almost consuming and bringing to an end all the men of Beit Garmai, of Assyria, and of Nineveh.
When Mar Sabrisho‘ prayed to God because of the rod of wrath which was destroying his flock he heard the voice of an angel saying, “Proclaim a fast and make petition, and the pestilence will be removed from you.” At once this holy man commanded that the people of the Lord should assemble with him in all their ranks at the house of the Lord; and on the first day of the petitioning, which was a Monday, the hand of the destroying angel drew back, and no one was smitten. Only a few died, that is, some of those who had been [previously] struck down and afflicted by the pestilence.
Now when the sixth day of the week arrived, which is the Day of Preparation, the people had fellowship in the Sacrifice of the living Body and holy Blood of Christ, and by it were pardoned and sanctified. Indeed, utterly none of those into whose bodies the corruption had spread died, not even one.
From that time, when the Church, the shepherds and their flocks, saw the mercies which had come upon them by reason of the petitioning which they had done, they appointed and ordered that this intercession should be done yearly, and it has continued and has been handed down and fulfilled carefully from that time until now in these our lands. And those who ordered the petitioning commanded that a Memorial of the fathers, the teachers, should be celebrated on the Friday of this week of the Rogation, since on the day of this Memorial mercies were shown and the pestilence was removed.

Inspirational Selections from the Rogation Services
Here I give a few selections from the three days of services along with their readings; please follow along in your Bible.

MONDAY, ROGATION OF THE NINEVITES
Anthem of the Altar
Hear, O Shepherd of Israel.
O good Shepherd of our souls, Helper and Savior of all, lead us according to your will beneath the shadow of your right hand. Receive the rational fruit of our lips, which with thanksgiving we are offering to you, and grant us mercies and compassion from your rich treasury.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; from everlasting, and for ever and ever. Amen.
O Compassionate One, you who are eternal and merciful unto generations, what is the wickedness of creation compared to the overflowing mercies of your loving-kindness? Sprinkle the face of our nature with the dew of mercies and pity, and deliver us from the hand of the Evil One and from the tares, the children of error.
The Readings
Isaiah 63:17-64:all
Amos 5:3-15; Habakkuk 3:all
1 Timothy 2:1-10
“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling…”

Matthew 5:17-37
I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. … Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.”

TUESDAY, ROGATION OF THE NINEVITES
Anthem of the Altar
To you shall all flesh come.
To you, O my Lord, all flesh shall come, for you grant pardon for the debts of all. May the bodies which sin has defiled be cleansed with your hyssop. Come, O mortals, bearers of burdens, lay aside the burden of your debts. Receive from the altar the live coal which absolved the Prophet, and be pardoned.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; from everlasting, and for ever and ever. Amen.
You are the King of Kings, our Helper, O Christ our Savior. Have pity on your servants who call upon you in these times of affliction, for lo, miseries surround us, and there is terror on all sides. Let your mercies come quickly before us. Let your face shine and save us.
The Readings
1 Samuel 7:3-9

Isaiah 59:1-18

Romans 12

“I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. … Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

Luke 18:1-14

‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” _

WEDNESDAY, ROGATION OF THE NINEVITES
Anthem of the Altar
Hear this, all you peoples; Repent, O children of men.
Because of the preaching of the prophet Nineveh was saved through fasting, and through petition and prayer the Angel of Death held back from her. With sorrow and tears of repentance let us seek refuge in the Temple and call mercies to our aid while the light has not yet grown dim.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; from everlasting, and for ever and ever. Amen.
Behold, in Holy Scriptures the way is trodden out to the Kingdom, but our mind is distracted by unprofitable vanities; for the riches of this passing world are of no avail for us, only fasting and prayer, by which Nineveh was delivered.
The Readings
Joel 2:1-27
Jonah 3
Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.”

Colossians 3:1-4:1
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. … And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body.

Matthew 6:1-18
“Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. … When you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Anthem of the Mysteries
Our God is a mighty place of refuge; and for the poor man who has no helper: he leads them to the haven which they desired.
The Church of Christ is a haven and place of refuge, and she receives men who journey in sins as on the sea, delivering them through the great power of the Cross.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; from everlasting, and for ever and ever. Amen.
Blessed is he who raised you to honor, O holy priests. Blessed is he who gave you the victory, O true athletes. Worshipful is the Holy Spirit by whose strength you cast down all heresies, gathering up the rational flock of Jesus our Savior, which he purchased by his precious blood on Golgotha.
Prayers
O Mar Ignatius, Polycarp, Athanasius, Eustathius, Melitius, Flavian, Gregory, Basil, Gregory, Ambrose, Diodore, John, and Theodore, a sea of wisdom, and Mar Nestorius, the persecuted Martyr, and the illustrious Alexander, master builders of holy Church, stewards of the mysteries of God, and teachers of true religion, may your prayers be a bulwark for us.

Teshbokhta…Glory!
O our Lord Jesus, worshipful King, who conquered by your passion the tyrant death,
Son of God who promised us new life in the Kingdom on high,
Remove from us all harm, and make tranquillity and mercy to dwell in our land,
That on the day of your appearance we may live before you and go out to meet you, according to your will.
We will confess your name with hosannas for your goodness to our race,
For your mercies have been multiplied to our humanity, and your love has shone forth upon our mortality.
You have canceled our debts through your atonement; glory be to your name for your gift.
Blessed is your honor from within your place, you who forgive debts because of your mercies.
The Sealing, which is at the Door of the Chancel

O God who hears and answers, hear the prayer of the supplicators. Make your continual mercies rest upon lands and cities.

Bless the Church and priests, that they may satisfy you with offerings. Bless the flocks and pastors, that they may walk according to your commandments.

Strengthen kings and judges, that they may render just judgments. May teachers prove themselves accomplished, that they may teach the life-giving Scriptures.

Drive out the enemies of deacons, and keep them from harm. Give judgment between us and the destroyers who are lurking wolves.

Give strength to the honest elderly, that they may bring to you alms and gifts. Adorn the young and the children with spiritual beauties.

Remove the veil of darkness from the faithful, that they may confess you at every hour. Gladden brides and grooms with joy-giving offspring.

Supply the needy and the poor, and multiply for them their temporal sustenance. Sow a blessing on all grains, that the hungry may eat and be satisfied.

Gladden the gloomy with clouds dripping with rain. Have pity upon the husbandmen, O our Lord, that they may bring first-fruits to your house.

O my Lord, preserve the riches of the wealthy, that they may increase the wages of hirelings. May your folds be shelters for the rational sheep and flocks.

Give sight to the blind; in light, O my Lord, let us see light. Let your right hand heal the lame and loose the imprisoned and bound.

Rebuke those who hate and the malicious who lay in wait for us like leopards. Uphold and support the virtuous, and open the heart of the simple.

Humble the pride of the haughty, that they may not obscure the truth of the trustworthy. May seed and fruit be made to abound, that the great and the lowly may be satisfied.

Support, O my Lord, those who dwell in monasteries, that they may be watchful servants for you. Do good to the simple of mind, O my Lord, as you have done in all generations.

Return answer to all who call, according to your kind promises. May our prayer be as incense before you in the evenings and in the mornings.

Receive the petitioning of the diligent who keep vigil at night with the watchful. Lift up the voices of the cantors, that they may sing to you with psalms.

Reconcile and gather the scattered, and may the ranks in your Church stand fast. May your Kingdom come and dwell among your people and your freed servants.

To you be glory in all the land, you who bind up the loins of the mighty and loosen the crowns of kings. Amen and amen at every moment, now, always, and for ever and ever.

Prepared by Rev Dimitri Grekoff,
St Barnabas the Apostle Parish

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2 Responses to “Rogation of the Ninevites…”

  1. Joseph Says:

    Excellent. Thanks for posting.

  2. Matilda Mattsson Says:

    Matnyttig fakta – tack 🙂

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