The Rorate Caeli Mass gets its name from the antiphon recited or chanted at the beginning of Mass: "Rorate Caeli desuper, et nubes pluant justum" - "Drop down dew, ye Heavens from above, and let the clouds rain down the just."
The Mass is offered in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary on a Saturday during Advent. In this Mass, we enter into the memory and longing of the Blessed Mother as she awaited the coming of the Just One, when after centuries of yearning, the Heavens would open up and rain down our Savior upon humankind at Christmas. Traditionally, this Mass is offered before daybreak, and the only light is provided by candles surrounding the altar. It is also known as the "Golden Mass", due to the especially beautiful prayers and chants, but also because the Mass takes on a golden hue from the candlelight. As Mass concludes, the sun will be in the first stages of rising, symbolizing how God's people look "to the East" as we await the coming of Christ, whom He promised would rise like the sun to illuminate the darkness of earth, first at Christmas, but then again at His Second Coming.
As this Mass is offered in honor of our Blessed Mother, we remember how she was specially chosen as the first Herald of the Dawn, to bear the light of Christ into the world, and so we take time during our preparations of Advent to enter into the heart of Mary, to learn from the school of her love and longing for Jesus. Even though this Mass is being offered very early in the day, I invite all of you to consider attending this very special celebration as part of your own preparations for Christmas, when we are called to remember our own need to constantly welcome the Just One, who rains down from Heaven, into the darkness of our own world and our own life so that He can soften us with the dew of His grace, and fill us with His light and His love.