The Rorate Caeli Mass: An Advent Tradition Honoring Our Lady


The Rorate Mass takes its name from the opening words of the Introit, which comes to us from Isaiah 45:8:

“Rorate, caeli, desuper, et nubes pluant justum, aperiatur terra, et germinet Salvatorem.”

“Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just: let the earth be opened and bud forth a Saviour.”

This past Saturday I had the privilege of assisting at a Rorate Mass for the third consecutive Advent. Rising at 4:30AM, I drove for thirty minutes through the dark streets of Charlotte, North Carolina, arriving at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church a little before the 6:00AM mass was scheduled to start. As the Rorate Mass began before sunrise, or in media nocte (“in the middle of the night”), it was illuminated only by candlelight. The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP), a community of Roman Catholic priests who only offer the mass in the Extraordinary Form, describe the rich symbolism associated with this Advent tradition:

The Rorate Mass is lit only by candlelight. Because it is a votive Mass in Mary’s honor, white vestments are worn instead of Advent violet. In the dimly lit setting, priests and faithful prepare to honor the Light of the world, Who is soon to be born, and offer praise to God for the gift of Our Lady. As the Mass proceeds and sunrise approaches, the church becomes progressively brighter, illumined by the sun as our Faith is illumined by Christ…

Read the rest of this post, and see some more amazing photographs of this mass, at One Peter Five.

(Photo courtesy of John Cosmas of the Charlotte Latin Mass Community)

Posted on December 8, 2014, in liturgy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. The Rorate EF Mass that you describe so beautifully (lit only by candles as the dawn approaches) conjures up so many joyful and moving images to me. How I wish we had such a marvellous Holy Mass over here we could attend, that would so help us concentrate on the Sacred in our Advent journey towards the celebration of Our Blessed Saviour’s Birth.

  1. Pingback: Les communautés plus traditionnelles font exception à la grande pénurie de prêtres en France – Espérance Nouvelle

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