Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Rorate Masses in Advent 2017 at Holy Innocents, NYC

This year, the Church of the Holy Innocents will have 10 Rorate Masses again during the first part of the holy season of Advent. Last year, a good number of parishioners made it their devotional sacrifice to attend as many of the Rorate Masses as they could. This year, the rumor is that their devotional spirit will inspire them to do the same!
The Rorate Mass is a traditional Advent devotion wherein the Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary for Advent is offered just before dawn. The Mass takes its title from the first words of the Introit (Rorate Caeli), which are from Isaiah 45:8:
     “Rorate, caeli, … 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 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.
The readings and prayers of the Mass foretell the prophecy of the Virgin who would bear a Son called Emmanuel.

***The “Rorate Mass” will be celebrated at The Shrine and Parish Church of the Holy Innocents on the following days of Advent:

·       Monday, December 4 – at 6AM
·       Tuesday, December 5 – at 6AM
·       Wednesday, December 6 – at 6AM
·       Thursday, December 7 – at 6AM
·       Saturday, December 9 – at 6AM
·       Monday, December 11 – at 6AM
·       Wednesday, December 13 – at 6AM
·       Thursday, December 14 – at 6AM
·       Friday, December 15 – at 6AM
·       Saturday, December 16 – at 6AM


Rorate Cæli  are the opening words of Isaiah 14, 8, text that is used both at Mass and in the Divine Office during the season of Advent because it expresses the longings of Patriarchs and Prophets and of the entire human race since the fall of Adam, and symbolically of the Church, for the birth/coming of the Redeemer.

          The Rorate Mass got its name from the first word of the Introit for the Mass of Our Lady on Saturdays during the season of Advent: “Rorate cæli désuper et nubes pluant justum.” (“Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the skies rain down righteousness.”).  The celebration of this Mass by candle light had originally a more practical reason – when there was no electricity. For many centuries in the Church, no Mass was allowed to be celebrated after Noon, and when these Masses were celebrated very early in the morning (before dawn) it was still very dark, especially in winter-time. So, the practicality of the use of candles obtained, in the course of time and through the power of religious tradition, a spiritual meaning (especially in the dark before dawn). Accordingly, the use of candles symbolizes the bright light of Christmas (the Birth of Christ) to which Advent leads us.

          Before the liturgical revolution of the Second Vatican Council, this Rorate Mass was celebrated very early in the morning on all Saturdays, and in some countries (Poland, Germany), during some or all weekdays during the season of Advent. It was celebrated in honor of the Blessed Mother (in white Vestments) as preparation for Christmas, in order to present Mary as the perfect model to imitate throughout the season of Advent.

          Mary teaches us the real spirit of Advent (waiting for the coming of the Messiah); she teaches us the kind of internal disposition that we should have during the season of Advent. During the nine months of pregnancy, Our Lady lived a hidden life, in the spirit of silence and of intense intimacy with Christ.

During the period of Advent, we should cultivate that same spirit of silence and of intense intimacy by listening attentively to God’s message and by obedience to His word, through devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, so that, like the shepherds of Bethlehem, we may always find Jesus through Mary (“So they [the shepherds] went with haste, and they found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in the manger.” Lk. 2, 16).

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