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?