Four years ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend my first Rorate Mass at the Shrine & Parish Church of the Holy Innocents.
It was mystical, sobering, beautiful and very, very early.
A Rorate Mass (sometimes called Rorate Caeli Mass) is a traditional votive Mass, in honor of the Blessed Virgin, which takes place in Advent. Whereas purple is the liturgical color for Advent, the liturgical color for a Rorate Mass is white.
As the FSSP fabulously explains:
The Mass takes its name, Rorate Caeli, from the first words of the Introit, which are 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.”
The Beautiful Darkness
As soon as I walked in, my senses were filled with beauty. The parishioners all held up candles, which added some light to the pitch-black church. The only other lights were the candles at the altar and at the ambo. I felt like I was part of something sober and holy.
After the Mass, when I had time to reflect, I realized I learned three things just by attending the Mass.
1) There are a lot of Catholics Who Are Way more Faithful and Pious Than I Am.
As I looked around the Church, I saw people of all ages, from those in their 20’s to those in their 80’s. Some lived near the Church and some lived a state away. I also realized that even though I was congratulating myself for coming to one Rorate Mass, there were some there who started attending faithfully last week, when the Masses first began, and would continue to attend until the end.
Meanwhile I was stressing out over being able to wake up early enough.
2) Human Beings Need Ritual.
The more we are able to use our five senses (sight, smell, hearing, taste & touch), the more mystical the experience.
Praying in pitch black, except for the light of the candles on the altar and the candles held by the parishioners, signaled to my mind that something mysterious was happening here.
Kneeling in the dark also reminded me of how when I was in the world, God illumined my soul with his light until I was able to see my path to his Church.
3) Catholics Need Each Other.
There are some Catholics who see community as optional, but it isn’t optional. We need each other for encouragement & enrichment. We are not lone cowboys, nor were we meant to do it alone. As persecution against Christians begin to increase, we will have to learn to rely on each other more and more.
The only reason I attended the Rorate Caeli Mass was because a parishioner invited me. She told me she would be attending two days this week and encouraged me to come. Because I knew she was expecting me to come, I made the extra effort.
This is why 1 Thessalonians says, “For which cause comfort one another; and edify one another, as you also do.” We need to encourage each other in the faith.
There may still be time for you attend a Rorate Mass depending on your location.
The Shrine & Parish Church of the Holy Innocents offers yearly Rorate Masses: If you’d like to attend, you still can! The remaining Rorate Mass dates are: 12/9, 12/10, 12/11, 12/14, 12/15, and 12/16, at 6 AM.
If your Church is having a Rorate, Mass, please put the times and location in the comment box. If you’ve attended Rorate Masses in the past, share your experience!
Post updated in 2020.