Rorate Caeli

RORATE SUNDAY: Thirteenth Anniversary of Rorate Caeli

This blog was launched thirteen years ago today. We thank Almighty God for the countless graces He has showered upon this apostolate, for the many souls that have been nourished by Catholic truth, encouraged by signs of hope, challenged by the demands of tradition, driven to prayer and fasting by the need to exorcise the demons of our time -- and, above all, moved to greater love and fidelity to Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

How often have we felt like crying out, with the Prophet Isaiah, with the people of Israel, with all God-fearing souls throughout the centuries: "O that thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at thy presence -- as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil -- to make thy name known to thy adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at thy presence!" (Isa 64:1-2). Now, more than ever, O Lord, rend the heavens and come down to save Thy People, in captivity, in exile, wandering in the desert of modernity!

This, indeed, is what the magnificent, evocative, and pleading melody of the Introit at today's Mass conveys to us: "O heavens, let the Just One rain down like the dew, let Him descend from the clouds like rain: let the earth be opened and give birth to the Savior."

Dom Dominic Johner, O.S.B., offers us this wonderful meditation on the Introit in his classic work The Chants of the Vatican Gradual:

[T]he chant is not a description of the dew descending from heaven. The melody has a quite different intent. It has more sublime things to tell: it is the expression of a heart full of ardent desires, of intense longing; it would pierce the bleak lowering skies of December; it would take from thence Him for whom it yearns; it would bring the Just One down to this wicked, sinful, guilty world. The soul's emotions are expressed by the large intervals ... Isaias, from whom these words have been culled, first of all cries for a liberator of the Israelites from their exile and slavery; Cyrus, whom he has seen in vision, is but a figure of the Saviour of all mankind. All the yearnings of the centuries have been compressed into this Introit.

What would this earth be without the Messias? A desert, an uncharted and arid waste scorched by the sun, having not one little flower or blade of grass. If new life is to spring forth, the ground must be cultivated, the clouds must send down their rain, the fructifying rain which is so valuable that the Portuguese say of the summer showers: "Gold pieces are now falling from heaven." Oh, that it might come, this rain, to penetrate into the hearts of men and awaken new life! Would that the clouds might have mercy! For the Israelites the concept of cloud was full of deep meaning: in the column of cloud God led His people through the desert; veiled by clouds He manifested Himself on Sinai; in a cloud the glory of the Most High descended upon the Temple which Solomon had built. Clouds are the symbol and the containers of life-giving rain, as well as of the grace of redemption which comes down to us from the heights of heaven, and of all the benefits and glories of the new kingdom of the Messias. When these clouds open, new life will bud forth (germinet) about Nazareth, a life of unusual beauty, rich in blossoms and fruits. We implore the descent of the Just One from heaven. But His justice will not make His countenance the less benevolent, nor His eyes the less loving. He comes not to reproach, not to drive sin-laden man away in confusion; He comes as the Saviour, calling to Himself all who are weary or burdened.

Already a child of this earth is bearing the Just One in her virginal womb. From her will go forth the most beautiful flower that ever our earth has produced, the rose of sweetest odor. This earth will not be opened, for it will be from an intact virginal womb that the flower will proceed.

Upon his cry Rorate the prophet Isaias immediately received an answer from God: "I, the Lord, have created Him," that is, the Redeemer and Saviour. Our petition is answered in the psalm-verse: "The heavens show forth the glory of God." Already at the Annunciation the heavenly messenger spoke his Ave, gratia plena; soon heavenly messengers will descend in mighty array to sing their Gloria to the Most High and to announce peace to mankind.

A blessed Rorate Sunday to all of our readers and your families and friends, throughout the world!

[Peter Kwasniewski]