He only shuts up when he is writing!
From the Pastor: Rorate Coeli Mass!
This coming Saturday, December 17, we will have our first Advent Rorate Mass at 6:30 am. For those of you who attend the Traditional Latin Mass on Saturday mornings, you have already joined in the praying of this votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary many times already. The introit begins, “Rorate coeli desuper et nubes pluant justum” (translation below). As you probably know, when a Mass has a “name” it is usually, as is true in this case, taken from the first word or two of the introit of the Mass. This particular introit, or introduction to the Mass, is taken from both the prophecy of Isaias 45:8, “(Rorate coeli desuper...” (or, in English) “Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just: let the earth be opened, and bud forth a savior” and from the prophecy of Psalm 84:2, “Lord, thou hast blessed thy land: thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob.” (If you don’t recognize the spelling of Isaias and think it is just Isaiah spelled wrong, now is a good time to realize that there are many small and great differences in various Bible translations. The TLM will generally quote from the Vulgate, whose best English liturgical translation is the Douay Rheims Version. Names do not always have the same spelling as you might be used to if you grew up with the Novus Ordo Mass and its New American Bible translation. Some Old Testament books even have different names and are in a different order than the NAB, too. Also, the Psalms will sometimes have different numbers for not only the individual Psalm itself, but also the verses. So if you check the NAB for the above quoted Ps. 84:2 you will instead find, “How lovely your dwelling, O LORD of hosts!” The NAB has our Mass quotation listed as Psalm 85:2 and unless you know that there can be discrepancies like this in various versions, you will, if you check the reference, think there is a misprint. Be careful! Even at the often-helpful biblehub.com online, which compares translations of many bible versions, they misrepresent the Douay Rheims to make if fit the protestant versions, so Psalm 85 is mislabled as if it is Psalm 84 so that it matches up. But that is all just an aside.)
So what makes this Rorate Mass (or, Rorate Coeli Mass) different from the other Rorate Masses which we already have celebrated here? The Advent Rorate Masses are celebrated in darkness, with only candlelight to illuminate the church. As the Mass continues, the daylight grows stronger, as if the signified Light of the World, Jesus Christ, is finally dawning upon us. The Savior is bud forth in the East (or Orient, which, as another aside, is why the term ad orientem--to the east--is used when the priest faces at least liturgical east like the congregation, all looking expectantly to the Orient for the return of Our Lord in His Majestic Glory), the land is blessed, and the Christians (Catholics are the true Christians) are set free from the dark captivity of sin. He came to save us from our sin, to bring light to those in darkness. He came through, and is magnified by, the Blessed Virgin Mary, without whom we would find no Savior, and merit no salvation.
There is another Mass which makes use of candlelight in a beautiful manner similar to this: the Easter Vigil, which begins in darkness with the dark being vanquished by the new fire which is blessed and spread from person to person as those holding candles hear and proclaim that Christ is our Light and the Exultet is chanted. But nowadays the lights are turned on and most of the candles are extinguished once the Mass itself begins. At the Advent Rorate Mass, the candles alone (and gradually, the sun as well), which themselves signify both Christ, the Light of the World, and the Holy Ghost, Who came upon the Apostles in tongues of fire at Pentecost, continue to provide the only light needed to honor the Blessed Virgin, who was blessed beyond all creatures by the Light of Christ. By the end of Mass, the dawn will have broken, bringing to fulfilment Zachary’s prophecy at the birth of his son, John the Baptist, who was to “be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways: To give knowledge of salvation to his people, unto the remission of their sins: Through the bowels of the mercy of our God, in which the Orient from on high hath visited us: To enlighten them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death: to direct our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:16-19).
So wake up early next Saturday and join us for this beautiful, traditional Rorate Coeli Mass. You will wonder why this beautiful tradition has been hidden (stolen?) from us for the past fifty or so years!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka