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

This is a beautiful custom – making a come back thanks to the spread of tradition – 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.  “Rorate” is the first word of the Introit chant for a Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin in Advent.  There is also a beautiful Advent Gregorian chant hymn that uses this text, which comes from Isaiah 14.

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

That’s one way.  Otherwise, the lights remain off, as they would have, obvious, in time before electrification.

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

Are you having Rorate Masses where you are?

Post your schedules, below.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Just Too Cool, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Solitary Boast, The Campus Telephone Pole and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. oldCatholigirl says:

    We are having a Rorate Mass on December 16 at 7:00 a. m. at St. Mary’s Parish at 939 Charlotte Ave., Kalamazoo, MI. It follows an Advent Novena of evening Masses beginning on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. As I understand it, the evening Masses will also be by candlelight. Breakfast will be served after the Rorate Mass.

  2. Deo volente says:

    Shrine of Saint Alphonsus Liguori (F.S.S.P.), 114 West Saratoga Street, Baltimore, Maryland on the 16th of December at 6:30 AM.

  3. Tom says:

    St. Alphonsus, Baltimore (FSSP): Missa Cantata by candlelight at 6:30 AM on Saturday, December 16.

  4. Henry Edwards says:

    6:30 am, Saturday, December 9, Holy Ghost Church, Knoxville, TN
    (Photos here of our Rorate Mass last year)

  5. Matt Robare says:

    Juventutem Boston is having a Rorate Mass Saturday, December 16 at 6:00 am at the Church of St Paul in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA.

  6. APX says:

    There will be a Rorate Mass in Calgary at St. Anthony’s Parish on Saturday, Dec. 16th at 7:00 am. It’s BYOC (with wax drip protection). We had one priest who somehow managed to time it almost exactly ending at Sunrise, which is particularly cool in our church since the high altar faces geographical east and has stained glass windows facing that direction so you can actually watch the sun rise as Mass progresses.

  7. Fr. Hugo says:

    Hermitage Our Lady the Garden Enclosed
    Warfhuizen (near Groningen), the Netherlands
    Wednesday 20 december 19.00

  8. Gripen says:

    Are Rorate Masses possible in the Ordinary Form?

  9. EFOF91 says:

    Our Lady of Mount Carmel Pontifical Shrine and Parish Church
    448 East 116th Street New York, NY 10029

    Saturday, December 9, 2017 at 5 AM
    Sung Candlelight Rorate Golden Mass in Latin, 1962 Missale Romanum

    This Golden Mass will be preceded by the National All-Night Vigil of Prayer for Life beginning on Friday, December 8, 2017 at 7:30 PM with the Solemn High Mass in Latin, 1962 Missale Romanum, for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

  10. Paul_S says:

    In Michigan, the Flint Tridentine Community has had beautiful Rorate Masses in 2015 and 2016. Pictures: 2015, 2016

    2017’s Rorate Mass will be celebrated on Saturday, December 24th, at 7:00 a.m. Facebook event

  11. wrightfam says:

    St Francis de Sales, Mableton, Ga on Saturday, December 16 at 7:00am.

  12. CatherineTherese says:

    Juventutem Saint Louis will host a Rorate Mass in the on Saturday, 12/16 at 6 AM at Old St. Ferdinand Shrine in Florissant, MO.

    Meanwhile, I second Gripen’s question above re. Rorate Masses in the OF.

  13. NBW says:

    Rorate Mass Dec. 16 at 6 am St. Mary of Perpetual Help, 1039 W. 32nd St. Chicago,(Bridgeport) IL

  14. prairiecatholic88 says:

    St. Mary, Help of Christians Church
    636 First Ave. N
    Sleepy Eye, Minnesota

    Sung Rorate Mass on Dec. 9 at 7:00AM

  15. Sword40 says:

    Solemn High Rorate Mass, St. Joseph Catholic church, Tacoma, Washington. 0700 December 16th. Celebrants, Fr. Gerard Saguto, Fr. Michael Stinson, Fr. Caleb Insco.
    Breakfast will be served after Mass in the church social hall by the Men’s club. Fr. Saguto will give an Advent Reflection after breakfast. All are welcome.

  16. walk by faith says:

    Rorate Mass Saturday, December 16 at 6:00 a.m. at St. John Cantius, Chicago IL (825 N. Carpenter Street) in the Extraordinary Form

  17. Fr. Hamilton says:

    St. Monica, Edmond, Oklahoma in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City will offer two experiences of the Rorate Mass in Advent 2017. This is the first time this parish has ever had a Rorate Mass.

    (1) A Rorate Mass (EF Low Mass) will be on Saturday, December 9, at 6:15 am in the main church.

    (2) Some comments have asked whether it is permissible or possible to do a Rorate Mass in the Ordinary Form. I can’t see why it would not be permissible, assuming one follows relevant requirements of the Novus Ordo calendar. Thus, I have also scheduled a Rorate Mass in the OF for Friday, December 15, at 6:15 am in the main church.

    Don’t let the Friday OF Rorate Mass get too much of your attention or head scratching. Originally I hoped to offer the OF Rorate Mass on December 16. However, because I already have a wedding Mass on that day plus the start of all the normal weekend duties and evening Mass, I did not think it wise to add yet another Mass to my schedule on Saturday, December 16. Thus, this year, our Ordinary Form Rorate Mass will be on Friday, December 15. Novus Ordo liturgical legislation relevant to that day permits me to opt for a votive Mass of the BVM in Advent. I will hope to plan ahead in future years and prevent other Masses claiming a Saturday spot so that I can offer an OF Rorate Mass on a Saturday beginning next year. Though the OF will be a Friday this year I figure it is better to offer it than not to offer it.

    This is the first time this parish will experience a Rorate Mass. I hope it interests people to come to an early morning Mass and I hope it will grow in the future.

  18. Joseph Mendes says:

    The Saint Philip Neri Latin Mass Chaplaincy will have a sung Rorate Mass on Saturday, December 16, at 7:00 a.m., in the basement chapel of the Co-Cathedral of Saint Joseph, Allen Street, Burlington, Vt. Facebook event for the Mass here:

    Juventutem Burlington will be going out to breakfast afterward. Facebook event for the breakfast here:

  19. liturmatt says:

    There will be a Solemn High Rorate Mass on Saturday December 9th at 6:30 AM at St. Thomas Aquinas Church at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Special thanks to the FSSP for their assistance in providing sacred ministers, a schola and training for the Mass.

  20. Sonshine135 says:

    Rorate Mass
    December 9 at 6AM
    St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church
    1400 Suther Road
    Charlotte, NC 28213

    This has become and annual tradition at the church, which normally does the NO form of the Mass, but has an EF Mass every Wednesday, and whose Priests are awesome and open to both forms.

  21. Thom says:

    Rorate Mass in the Ordinary Form on December 16 at 6:00 AM

    Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church
    424 South 30th Street, Tacoma, WA 98402

  22. iPadre says:

    Rorate Mass – Missa Cantata

    December 9th – 6:00 am

    Holy Ghost Church
    316 Judson Street
    Tiverton, Rhode Island 02878

  23. Cincinnati Priest says:

    Cincinnati Oratory
    6:45 a.m. Sat. Dec. 16th
    Old St. Mary’s Church
    123 E. 13th St., Cincinnati.

  24. dholwell says:

    Thanks for the link, Fr. Z. I donated a candle for my family at your suggestion. If you have any ability to influence St.Alphonsus to post pictures for the altar before Mass, that would be greatly appreciated! Thank you for all you do. Vivat Jesus!

  25. Sam Schmitt says:

    St. Mary Church
    669 West Avenue
    Norwalk, Conn. 06850
    Rorate Mass – December 16 2017 at 6:30 am

  26. Sam Schmitt says:

    Regarding a “Rorate Mass” in the ordinary form, the GIRM seems not to allow a votive mass of Our Lady in Advent (emphasis added):

    “376. On obligatory Memorials, on the weekdays of Advent up to and including December 16, of the Christmas Season from January 2, and of the Easter Season after the Octave of Easter, Masses for Various Needs, Masses for Various Circumstances, and Votive Masses are as such forbidden.”

    I say “seems” because the good news is that GIRM offers an option which effectively allows it:

    “If, however, required by some real need or pastoral advantage, according to the judgment of the rector of the church or the priest celebrant himself, a Mass corresponding to such a need or advantage may be used in a celebration with a congregation.”

    The 1974 Graduale Romanum includes a votive mass for Our Lady in Advent, and the Missal has a common of the Blessed Virgin Mary, both with the “Rorate” text as the Introit.

  27. William says:

    Regina Caeli Parish
    8121 Breen Rd.
    Houston, TX 77064
    6:30 AM 12-16-17

  28. MacCheese says:

    Yes Father. At the FSSP parish St. Stephens of Hungary in Allentown, P.A.

  29. iPadre says:

    We had our first Rorate Mass last Saturday. There were 60 people in attendance, and most told me they were moved deeply. This will be repeated! I wasn’t able to get pics, but I have a video.

  30. Imrahil says:

    Dear Sam Schmitt,

    I believe that is referring to what otherwise were known as “simple votive Masses”, “general votive Masses” or so or, in the latest rubrics before the liturgy reform, “votive Masses of the fourth class”. These are forbidden in Advent; the Rorate Mass is of somewhat higher rank (which is called “great advantage” etc. here). Around here, of course, there’s apparently a privilege to have it, with full Gloria and incense at all not only on Saturdays, as a votive Mass of the second class, not excluding 17-23 december; but even where there’s not such a privilege, a Rorate Mass is not simply a common votive Mass.

  31. Orlando says:

    Saturday December 16
    6:00 AM Rorate Candlelight High Mass – St. Michael in Gastonia, NC
    6:30 AM Rorate Candlelight High Mass – St. Ann, Charlotte , NC

  32. Mightnotbeachristiantou says:

    I am in Heidelberg, Germany. There are at least 3 different churches having Rorate Mass during the season.

  33. Fr_Andrew says:

    I very much like the idea of the ‘Rorate’ Mass, but have declined to do one because my reading of the 1960 rubrics don’t seem to allow it.

    I’m a ‘red letter’ man, but it seems contra legem in my reading.

    Perhaps someone could help me.

  34. Fr_Andrew says:

    Since my earlier comment was brief by reason of using a phone to type it, permit me to explain. I am open to, and would welcome, correction on my interpretation. All references are to the 1960 Rubrics :

    nn. 24-25 make ferias in Advent either III or II class days.

    According to nn. 328, 341, 384, and 387 any Votive Mass during Advent would need to be of the 3rd class (or 2nd class after Dec 16), to be permitted.

    But the Votive Mass of Our Lady during Advent is not a I class votive (Cf. n. 329), doesn’t seem to qualify as a II Class (Cf. nn. 342, 370-377), is not a III Class (Cf. n. 385).

    The Motu Proprio of John XXIII promulgating these rubrics specifically revokes “statues, privileges, indults, and customs” contrary to the rubrics, meaning the appeal to a long-standing custom or privilege for the Rorate Mass, seems impossible.

    Don’t get me wrong. I like the idea of the Rorate Mass and would happily join in the list of celebrants, but it does not seem to fit my understanding of the Church’s law, and while I can’t claim not to be a hypocrite, I would feel myself wrong to call out abusers of the GIRM when I myself do whatever I like with the Extraordinary Form.

    As written above, however, if someone can help me understand where I am wrong, I would be happy to be corrected so next Advent I can promote a Rorate Mass.

Comments are closed.