ASK FATHER: Rorate Masses in Advent

Some of you have written asking about “Rorate Masses” during Advent.

This is a beautiful custom whereby Mass is celebrated illuminated only by candlelight. They are usually before dawn.

The Mass is a Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin, and so it is celebrated in white, rather than Advent purple.

One way that I have heard this done is that, while the hymn Rorate caeli begins, the priest and people process into the church. At the end of the hymn, prayers at the foot of the altar begin. When the Gloria is sung (for the Blessed Virgin’s votive Mass) the lights of the church are turned on.

It could be good to time to end of Mass as the sun is rising.

I imagine that some of you have experiences of these Rorate Masses during Advent.

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12 Responses to ASK FATHER: Rorate Masses in Advent

  1. Matt R says:

    There will be a Rorate Mass this coming Saturday at 8 AM at St. Peter’s Church in Steubenville OH. It will be a Missa Cantata celebrated by the associate pastor, Fr. Jonas Shell, and the propers and ordinary sung by the men’s schola from Franciscan University.

    I’ve also heard of this Mass being celebrated on Ember Wednesday, since the Introit is also Rorate caeli.

  2. Imrahil says:

    Note: While this is the original thing, in the ordinary form we sometimes have “Rorate Masses” of the Advent day (in purple), or even of the Saint of the day. What makes them “Rorate” is the candlelight, the darkness, the time of the year and the general feeling…

    Also, though you won’t believe it given how beautiful it is, but it is a penitential thing to do. You know, getting up (very) early and all…

    Note: while turning the light on for the Gloria (which, unless by privilege, is not allowed except on the Saturday) makes sense (it is done that way in the Easter Vigil), let me state quite intuitively that “it’s not the Rorate thing”. I’m German and thus should know ;-) For a Rorate Mass, you have the candlelight until the end (though that could, indeed, possibly coincide with sundawn).

    Giving an additional thought to that impression: it might be “not the Rorate thing” as I said because… well… it’s Advent, not Christmas, and it remains Advent when the Gloria is sung, and it remains Advent even at Transsubstantiation. (Yeah… it does become Christmas then in a sense. For logicians, Advent is a complicated season ;-) )

    A final note, I was told by a priest in the Extraordinary Form (who should know) that Bavaria has a privilege to have Rorate Masses overriding pretty much any feast (well, not Sundays nor Immaculate Conception of course), and to be said with Gloria and Credo and all. Did I mention I love my country?

  3. Geoffrey says:

    Could this be celebrated in the Ordinary Form as well?

  4. Wiktor says:

    I didn’t manage to wake up early enough for EF rotate mass today :-(
    We’ll see tomorrow…
    It’s good they are offered daily here.

  5. MrsMacD says:

    Google Rorate Mass in images for some liturgical eye candy. My second favourite Mass of the year, after the Easter Vigil. Every Catholic should attend one of these in their lifetime. It’s a good Mass to bring non Catholics to as well.

  6. dlmzdy says:

    There will be a Solemn Extraordinary Form – Rorate Mass @ Old St. Mary’s Church in Cincinnati Ohio, Saturday, December 13, 6:45 a.m. Hosted by the Community-in-Formation of the Oratory of St. Philp Neri. Full propers and motets, it has been the highlight of my Advent for the last three years to be involved with this Holy Mass.

    http://www.spncincinnati.com/blog/

  7. Father P says:

    For the OF I have used the “candlelight” Mass atmosphere for the Morning Mass on December 24. (1) It fits with the Gospel of the day which is the Benedictus – he will shine on those who dwell in darkness and shadow of death and (2) It allows the people who come to experience the full effect of the flowers and other decorations on Christmas itself.

    I also use “candlelight” for the Vigil Masses with the lights coming on full at the Night Mass following the chanting of the Kalends. (1) Preserves the sense of Vigil and I discovered (2) calms the little children down at what is often considered a “zoo” atmosphere for Mass

  8. rollingrj says:

    In response to MrsMacD, here is what it should look like. The celebrant is Fr. Christopher Gray of the Diocese of Salt Lake City. After ordination in June, 2013, he continued his studies in Rome for another year, when and where this video took place.

    Copy, paste, and enjoy.

    http://liturgiamauthenticam.org/EFStore/20131214RorateGray.mov

  9. greasemonkey says:

    I know some of the folks in our area are interested & supportive of a “Rorate mass”, but the question I have (and I’ve asked it: To a number of people, and a number of outlets) is WHEN can this mass be used? Now folks have responded with pictures, and descriptions of the Rorate Mass, but no one is citing anything from the code of rubrics for votive Masses exactly when one can use this votive mass during Advent.
    Can it be used on any Saturday, any day, Ember Saturday, the Greater Ferias before Christmas??? In other words when and how does a votive mass of the 4th Class become a 3rd of 2nd class feast? Please cite the code of rubrics.
    I too would love to go to one, but as I’m usually the one to pull it all together I’d like to be in the ‘know’ on ‘how’ of this…

  10. greasemonkey says:

    I know some of the folks in our area are interested & supportive of a “Rorate mass”, but the question I have (and I’ve asked it: To a number of people, and a number of outlets) is WHEN can this mass be used? Now folks have responded with pictures, and descriptions of the Rorate Mass, but no one is citing anything from the code of rubrics for votive Masses exactly when one can use this votive mass during Advent.
    Can it be used on any Saturday, any day, Ember Saturday, the Greater Ferias before Christmas??? In other words when and how does a votive mass of the 4th Class become a 3rd of 2nd class feast? Please cite the code of rubrics.
    I too would love to go to one, but as I’m usually the one to pull it all together I’d like to be in the ‘know’ on ‘how’ of this…

  11. greasemonkey says:

    I know some of the folks in our area are interested & supportive of a “Rorate mass”, but the question I have (and I’ve asked it: To a number of people, and a number of outlets) is WHEN can this mass be used? Now folks have responded with pictures, and descriptions of the Rorate Mass, but no one is citing anything from the code of rubrics for votive Masses exactly when one can use this votive mass during Advent.
    Can it be used on any Saturday, any day, Ember Saturday, the Greater Ferias before Christmas??? In other words when and how does a votive mass of the 4th Class become a 3rd of 2nd class feast? Please cite the code of rubrics.
    I too would love to go to one, but as I’m usually the one to pull it all together I’d like to be in the ‘know’ on ‘how’ of this…

  12. Matt R says:

    It can be used on Saturdays of Advent when a III-class votive is allowed, since on Saturdays in the EF the votive of Our Lady is a III-class votive, meaning it can be said on a IV -class ferial day or a III-class feast day, which is the rank of most feast days in the 1962 calendar. Most votive Masses are IV-class votives, so the number of days to say a votive Mass are limited compared to the calendar of the OF (abounding in ferials compared to 1962). The votive Mass could not replace days that have a privileged Advent feria, which dominate the latter half of Advent on the days the “O” antiphons are sung with the Magnificat at Vespers.

    It would not replace the 3rd Saturday in Advent (and I think it is always the 3rd Saturday), since that’s an Ember Day… It’s not worth getting the permission to do that, especially considering what you are trading. :) However, as I said above, the Introit for Ember Wednesday (slightly inconvenient for many of us, I know) is also Rorate caeli, so one could have a Rorate Mass that day as well.

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