Rorate Caeli

Fontgombault Sermon for the Immaculate Conception: "Rorate cæli desuper" in our Troubled Times!


Sermon of the Right Reverend Dom Antoine Forgeot
Abbot Emeritus of Our Lady of Fontgombault
(Fontgombault, December 8, 2019)

Deus caritas est.
God is love.
(1 Jn 4:8)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Dearly beloved Sons of the absent Abbot,

From the outset, wrote the pious and learned Cardinal Journet, God has loved the human race “with a mad love, to the point that He wanted to give Himself to us in the heavenly vision” (1). We know how this plan was thwarted, yet not fully destroyed, by the sin of our first parents, a sin the scars of which we are still bearing. The redeeming Incarnation of the Word of God, the second Person in the Holy Trinity, is the greatest manifestation of the love of God for us men:

For God so loved the world, as to give His only begotten Son: […] that the world may be saved by Him. (Jn 3:16-17)

The whole history of the chosen people is marked by an expectation for the salvation that God had, in His mercy, foretold. He had even, in a mysterious way, involved in this salvation “the woman”, who was none other than She whose Immaculate Conception we are celebrating today, Mary, the All-Holy Mother of God.

With a very keen instinct, the Holy Church delights in pinpointing in the Old Testament the events and signs portending the Messiah’s more or less remote coming, as well as the coming of the woman from whom He was to receive a nature in all points like our own nature, except for sin. And the liturgy doesn’t fail to use these treasures to make richer her prayer of praise, thanksgiving, and request. Among such portends are, for example, the Burning Bush upon which Moses gazed with wonder (Ex 3:1-6), the fleece of Gideon (Jdg 6:36-40), the gate of the Temple looking towards the east seen by Ezekiel (Ez 44:2), or Elijah’s small cloud.

Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees. “Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked. “There is nothing there,” he said. Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.” The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” (1 R 18:42-44) This small cloud was heralding the rain that was to give back its fruitfulness to the earth.

From the very first moment of her Immaculate Conception, Mary, already full of grace, she who would later proclaim herself the little handmaid of the Lord, was heralding the flows of grace of which she was to be the Mediatrix, these flows of grace we are begging for during Advent: Rorate cæli desuper, et nubes pluant Iustum. - “Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just.”

The mystery of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God, an absolutely unique privilege, is in the world’s history as a little, yet very bright, ray of sun, a thread of pure light going throughout ages and nations, which gives to those who pay attention to it the joy of hope that doesn’t disappoint, because it rests on the promise of God, Who is faithful in His love. There may be no disappointment for those who rest assured of God’s tenderness. (2)

The troubled times which are our times seem to be in the thralldom of the powers of evil, of pride, deceit, and hatred. Insofar as the world has become estranged from God, it no longer knows what truth is, or even whether it exists, to such an extent that the world ignores and impeaches the natural law God has inserted into the heart of each person, and wants to substitute it with immoral and death-bringing laws, the fruit of a conscienceless science, laws which have already made so many innocent victims.

Our world sorely needs to find back the path towards humility. In a very recent document, Pope Benedict XVI wrote that his work as a theologian had given him a great joy. He added:

However, it has been for me a continuous occasion of humility, which sees the limits of what is proper to us and thus opens the way to the greatest truth. […] Only humility can find the truth, and the truth in turn is the foundation of love, from which ultimately everything depends. (3)

These shining words show the path of conversion which all of us have to tread so as to reach the joy of a known and loved truth, the joy of opening up ourselves to the grace of our Lord Jesus, Who is “the Way, the Truth, the Life, and the Light of the world” (Jn 14:6; 8:12).

As the divine Wisdom, the Blessed Virgin is “the Mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope” (Si 24:17 [Vulgate]). She is the All-Holy, the All-Pure, the All-Humble, she who has drawn the eyes of God, Who “has looked with favour on the humility of his handmaid” (Lk 1:48). She is the model we should contemplate, admire, and imitate. She is the Mother whom we love, and from whom we expect all good. Let us pray her for the Holy Church, for the world, and for all those who bear the heavy responsibility of governing it. Let us ask her to draw us after her on the path of truth and love.

Trahe nos, post te curremus, Virgo Immaculata. “Draw us: we will run after thee, O Immaculate Virgin.”


(1) La Rédemption, drame de l’amour de Dieu, Retreat, 4th lecture, § 1.
(2) Dom Paul Delatte, Commentaire des Épîtres de saint Paul, vol. I, p. 621.
(3) Benedict XVI, Message to the International Theological Commission for the 50th anniversary of its institution, October 22, 2019.