Why You Should Attend a Rorate Caeli Mass This Advent

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It’s that time of the year again. No, not the sales Black Friday and Cyber Monday (I think it’s now “Cyber Week”). It’s the beginning of the new liturgical year and the short season of Advent.

This year, it seems like we are all playing “catch up” after being in lockdown for nearly two years. While it’s great that we can get to Mass and receive the Sacraments more frequently in parts of the world, the rapidness of the world opening again has left many of us feeling spread too thin. Even the thought of doing all the normal Advent activities can seem a little overwhelming. For those of us who are still struggling to make ends meet, the thought of having to purchase special items to celebrate the season can also be a little stressful.

So, what’s a faithful Catholic who wants to celebrate the season but is struggling with time and/or money to do? Consider going to a Rorate Caeli Mass. It’s one of the most beautiful and spiritually-fulfilling traditions we Catholics can partake in every year.

What is a Rorate Mass?

In a nutshell, they are Marian-centered votive masses which are celebrated with only the light of candles illuminating the church while the sunlight of the rising sun begins illuminating the church. These masses are typically celebrated on Saturdays (Our Lady’s day) during Advent but that is not always the case so check with the local parish that will be offering it for date and time.

If you’re still wondering why these masses have this specific name, Rorate Caeli: it comes from the beginning of the Introit (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.”)

Why are they celebrated?

The Masses are celebrated in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary who brought the Light of the world into this world. That’s why the Masses are celebrated just as dawn is breaking; to remind us that the birth of Christ dispelled the darkness of this world. All the readings and prayers reflect the reason for the season: the joyful anticipation and celebration of the fulfillment of the prophecy that a Virgin would give birth to the Savior of the world.

What changes can we expect this year?

Because COVID restrictions may still be limiting activity in your diocese, these Masses may be celebrated outside. If extreme weather or poor health aren’t impediments, I highly recommend bundling up and making the small sacrifice of bearing the cold weather and early hours to attend one of these beautiful Masses. While they are typically celebrated at parishes where the Latin Mass is celebrated (think FSSP parishes), that’s not always the case. Though more rare, they are sometimes celebrated in the Ordinary Form.

I know that an extra Mass during Advent may not appeal to everyone but I encourage you to attend it at least once in your lifetime. If you’re particularly visual, it will truly add a memorable experience that you’ll never forget.

Featured image: Pixabay. Free for commercial use. No attribution required.

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