It’s the cold, frosty hours before dawn.
Even though the sun won’t be up for some time, you roll out of bed and dress in church-going clothes before making the drive to your parish.
The church looks totally dark, but when you walk in, hundreds of tiny, ardent flames are blazing on the altar and in the pews. The warm sparks throw hushed, rosy hues against the shadowed walls.
Mass begins, still in the semi-dark of candlelight.
“Rorate, caeli, desuper…Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above…”
Although it is Advent, altar and celebrant are clothed in shining white vesture. The readings speak of a Savior who will be born of a Virgin. Hot wax drips down the slender candles. As the Mass progresses, dawn creeps up to the stained glass windows.
“Ite, missa est…Go, the mass is ended…”
Mass is over. The little points of flame are pale in the morning light.
This is a taste of the Rorate Mass—a special Mass celebrated in honor of the Blessed Mother on an Advent Saturday. The Rorate tradition began around the 13th century during a surge of devotion to her. The white vestments honor her sinlessness and virginity, and the readings are taken from prophecies of the Savior’s birth. Named for the first word of its entrance hymn, the Mass is prayed as morning dawns, symbolizing the coming of the Christ Child’s light at Christmas.
There are many ways to remind ourselves of the coming Light. One way is by reading the great poems and stories that remind us of the great joy we are waiting for. This Advent and Christmas season, gather your family around by lamp or candlelight and read together from One Great Love: An Advent and Christmas Treasury of Readings, Poems, and Prayers and find your hearts and homes illuminated with simple joy. This beautifully designed gift book weaves together some of the most cherished literature, scriptures, poems, and songs celebrating the sacred season of Advent and Christmas. It makes a great gift for the literature-lover in your life! Available today at The Catholic Company!