Advent and “Rorate” Masses

Advent is just days away.   Another liturgical year closes, another begins.

Advent burgeons with beautiful customs.  One of the loveliest is the Rorate Mass.

These Masses are generally offered during Advent on Saturdays, which is the customary day of the week to honor the Blessed Virgin with a Votive Mass.

Three figures accompany us during our Advent preparation for the coming of the Lord. The Prophet Isaiah is a figure of longing for the Lord, John the Baptist of repentance in the Lord, and our Blessed Mother is a figure intimacy with the Lord.

Isaiah gives us the beautiful image, full of yearning and thirst, of dew descending from heaven, a foreshadowing of the gentle way the Messiah would come to us, how grace graciously helps us.  The Church sings in hymns and chants, “Rorate caeli desuper … Drop down dew from above, you heavens, and let the clouds rain down the Just One; let the earth be opened and bring forth a Savior” (cf Isaiah 45:8).

The Rorate Mass is so called, because people would meet in the dark before dawn and process with their priest into the church singing the Rorate caeli.  Then Mass would be celebrated in candle and lantern light.   Remember: we haven’t always had electric lights.

Mass would conclude about break of day.

Will your parish or chapel have Rorate Masses during Advent?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Deo volente says:


    A Rorate Mass at the National Shrine of St. Aphonsus Liguori in Baltimore, MD on December 12th. This is an F.S.S.P. Parish and it will be shown on their Youtube channel as seating is limited. Donations for Rorate candles appreciated!

  2. APX says:

    This just made me even more depressed. Not being able to sing in groups right now, let alone have sung Masses, whatever Rorate Mass we have this year will be in silence. I always enjoyed singing the beautiful Mass propers for this Mass.

  3. nnn says:

    Here in Poland we are lucky to have daily Rorate Masses in almost all churches – frankly, I have never heard of one that doesn’t celebrate it. In my parish (Black Madonna of Cz?stochowa, Józefów) we will have both NO and Latin Rorate Mass every day, Monday through Saturday of Advent.

  4. cathgrl says:

    St. Mary Redford, Detroit is having one Saturday, Dec 5 at 7 am. St. Joseph Shrine in Detroit is having one Saturday, Dec. 12 at 6:30 am.

  5. lfandrew says:

    Our new Parish Priest (who is sympathetic to – and is just about to say his first EF Mass) has said that we won’t have a Rorate Mass this year as no-one has given him a good enough reason to have one. Can anyone give me an idea what I can say in response? Thank-you.

  6. West of the Potomac says:

    Holy Trinity parish in Gainesville, VA sung Mass on Dec 5 at 6:15a.

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