LINCOLN (SNR) – All are invited to a Solemn High Rorate Mass Saturday, Dec. 9 at 6:30 a.m. at the St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center, 320 N. 16th St., Lincoln.
A Rorate Mass is a type of extraordinary form Mass that takes place on a Saturday in Advent, before the sun rises. It is entirely candlelit; no artificial lighting whatsoever is used. It is meant to symbolize the faithful waiting in darkness during Advent, in eager anticipation for the light of the world, Jesus Christ.
The Mass will be sponsored by the Venerable Sheen Club, an informal group on UNL’s campus that provides community in attending the extraordinary form Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Oratory, 1145 South St., Lincoln.
Archbishop Sheen, 1895-1979, was an American bishop well known for his preaching, particularly on radio and television. The cause for his canonization was opened in 2002 and he was declared “Venerable” in 2012.
“We picked Venerable Fulton J. Sheen as our patron,” said club founder Jacob Bauer, “because he encapsulates our two core ‘pillars’ -- the new evangelization and tradition.”
Bauer said he even started a podcast with FOCUS missionary Kevin Roerty that “aims to promote this idea, often called ‘The New Tradangelization.’”
Editor's Note: Listen to the podcast about this event here.
One of the duo’s most recent podcasts is “Five-minute How To: Latin Mass,” an invitation for those who have not before attended an extraordinary form Mass. They will also provide booklets at the Rorate Mass to help newcomers follow along.
“This Mass dates back to Saint Gregory the Great and before--over 1,500 years,” they stress. “The sense of divinity, sacrifice, and the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist are main elements.”
Father Justin Wylie, assistant pastor of the Cathedral of the Risen Christ, will celebrate the Dec. 9 Mass. Because it is a Solemn High Mass, there will a deacon and a subdeacon at the altar, as well as six to eight additional altar servers. A schola, or choir, from Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, will chant the Mass with Gregorian Chant and Sacred Polyphony.
“A cool phenomenon that will take place during this Mass is the progressive, gradual visibility of the stained-glass window,” Bauer said, referring to “Christ in the Heavenly Court,” a nearly 7,200-pane window behind the Newman Center altar, depicting Jesus surrounded by many saints. “Because the church faces true east and because Father will be facing liturgical east (‘ad orientem’), the whole Advent symbolism of waiting in the dark for the sun to rise will be exemplified.”
Related item: Photo slideshow, St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center
Roerty agreed. “The senses are going to be engaged so that we can look to something deeper,” he explained. “What better way, when we’re looking to the liturgical east, waiting for Christ in this liturgical season?”
The event is designed to be a transcendent experience in glorifying God the Father as much as possible.
“It will be otherworldly, extraordinary, mysterious, bigger than us, and even sometimes hard to understand,” Bauer said, “but all of those attributes accurately reflect what God is in comparison to us.
“Our overall goal is to provide the students of the Newman Center with a liturgical experience that reflects the Tradition of the Church to a greater degree,” he continued. “We are intending to really accent the aspect of the fact that this is deeply rooted in the Tradition of the Church.”
The pair encouraged participants unfamiliar with the extraordinary form to attend without worry.
“Don’t feel judged or out of place if you don’t know when to sit, stand or kneel,” Roerty said. “The true, active participation in the Mass is going on in the interior, in your heart.”
Those who would like to attend the Rorate Mass are encouraged to RSVP so that enough instructional booklets may be printed.