Advent – The Spiritual awaiting for Christ

    Four weeks before Christmas Polish people prepare for the birth of Christ. These weeks are known as Advent. It is a time of fasting, prayer and spiritual preparation for Christmas. It should not just be all about the parties, decorating, and shopping, lest we forget what this time of the year is truly about.

    One of many living traditions are special early-morning masses called “roraty”, usually starting when it is still dark outside. Churchgoers light candles at different times during mass so they gradually bring light to the day which symbolizes the upcoming Nativity of Christ, a miracle that brought light and salvation to the world.
    The word “roraty” originates from the first words of the introit, a psalm or antiphon sung or said while the priest approaches the altar for the Eucharist. The first prayer begins with the word “Rorate coeli”, translated from Latin means “Heaven, drop the morning dew”. This service has a very special atmosphere since it begins before sunrise in darkness. Candles are lit at the altar and in the hands of the people participating at the service. As the mass comes to an end, the sun has risen and the world is waking up with the sunrise.. Roraty has been celebrated in Poland since the 12th century and continue to be celebrated in cities and villages throughout the country to this day.

    One of many living traditions are special early-morning masses called “roraty”, usually starting when it is still dark outside. Churchgoers light candles at different times during mass so they gradually bring light to the day which symbolizes the upcoming Nativity of Christ, a miracle that brought light and salvation to the world. There is also one special white candle at the altar, called “roratka”, wreathed in blue ribbon, which symbolizes Mary, the Morning Star, preluding Christ, the Sun.

    The word “roraty” originates from the first words of the introit, a psalm or antiphon sung or said while the priest approaches the altar for the Eucharist. The first prayer begins with the word “Rorate caeli”, translated from Latin means “Heaven, drop the morning dew”. This service has a very special atmosphere since it begins before sunrise in darkness. Candles are lit at the altar and in the hands of the people participating at the service. As the mass comes to an end, the sun has risen and the world is waking up with the sunrise. Roraty has been celebrated in Poland since the 12th century and continue to be celebrated in cities and villages throughout the country to this day. Researchers believe that it has played a major role in the rise of devotion to the Blessed Virgin in our country.

    Since roraty is a special kind of mass, every diocese that wants to celebrate it, needs a special permit from the Vatican. There used to be a range of customs regarding roraty throughout Poland but they were all unified by cardinal Stefan Wyszyński in 1961. Also, since Vaticanum II, it can be celebrated only in Advent on weekdays, when there is no other solemnity, like the Immaculate Conception. These days, roraty is directed especially to children, who find this unusual mass quite attractive and wake up before dawn to storm their local church with lanterns in hands and go in a procession to greet the Light coming to the world.

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