Charlene Rack sheepishly shares her own struggles with spiritual laziness, and offers some encouragement for all of us.
As I sit down to write this article, we are still within the Octave of Christmas, and I’m recalling in gratitude the events of the season of Advent, reflecting on the amazing wisdom and beauty of our Church liturgies in building up the anticipation of celebrating Christ’s birth. I find myself meditating specifically on “The Light.” This December, I attended (for the first time ever) a Latin Rorate Mass. “Rorate” comes from the words of the Introit, from Isaiah 4:8 – “Rorate caeli, desuper, et nubes pluant justum, aperatur terra, et germinet Savatorum” (Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain on the just: let the earth be opened and bud forth a Savior.) In simple terms, it’s a Votive Mass in honor of the Blessed Mother, celebrated during Advent, guiding us to the Light which has come into the world.
The Rorate Mass has been making a comeback with the rise of traditional Latin Mass in parishes around the country. Our parish has been doing it for a while, but I am SOOOO not a morning (or incense!) person, I kept making excuses for staying at home in bed. You have to set your alarm clock for the wee hours of the morning for this celebration. This Advent, however, I had plenty of paramount prayer requests on my plate, so I decided to make the sacrifice and attend this special Mass.
As I walked into the darkened church (which was impressively filled with families of small children!), my eye was immediately drawn to all the candles illuminating the high altar. It was breathtakingly beautiful. The idea behind the Rorate Mass is to begin before the sun rises, the church lit only by candlelight. Everyone gets a candle. As the celebration progresses, the light from the altar candles is “spread” by a few who carry their lit candles out into the congregation (in our case, by the sisters and novices of our parish’s religious-community-in-formation, the Carmelite Daughters of St. Elias).
The visuals, music (and yes, even the dreaded incense), filled my heart with hope, joy, courage, and assurance. We were still two weeks out from Christmas, with all the crazy things going on in our world and in our country, and here we were, taking time out of our busy life (or, time when certain people might usually be sleeping …) to honor the Blessed Mother, and the Light of the World ushered forth through her fiat.
Christ, our Light in the darkness, has come, and every Advent, us Catholics make a pretty big deal out of the season of preparation, even though Christ’s light has never left us since that first Christmas. Sometimes, however, we “leave” Him, or, at the very least, we get distracted away from our faith life by stress, worries, work, family responsibilities, illness, fear, or maybe even just a lack of effort on our part (which I believe is often why my faith suffers!). Finally overcoming my selfish desire for sleep and attending that Rorate Mass had a tremendous effect on me. This opportunity had been available to me for several years, but I was just too lazy.
As we all begin this new year, I suggest we look for any spiritual laziness that might be holding us back, stifling our faith. I have piles of books in my house that I could be reading to advance my growth in holiness, but generally all I do is set them out (with the best of intentions), dust around them for a while, and then put them back on the shelf. Oh, I might read a page or two, even a few chapters, but then that pesky acedia (definition: laziness or indifference to religious matters) rears its ugly (but aggravatingly reliable) head, and I’m off on some other tangent. Give me some classic fiction and I’ll gobble it down, but for non-fiction, I need a study group or a writing assignment to hold me accountable!
The Rorate Mass experience has me determined to build my spiritual muscles, stretching them regularly to keep them from getting “stiff.” The Light is here with us, and He offers us all we need in this world. My daily “exercise plan” is to walk in the Light, training my eyes and my will to focus on Him always. In this world where darkness threatens daily (and news outlets, as well as social media, feed us with large daily portions of it!), Christ is our true food, and our hope. The faithful of this world must turn away from the darkness, in whatever form it comes to us, and focus unwaveringly on the Light, Who has come to save us. In Him, there is no darkness.
Copyright 2021 Charlene Rack
Images copyright 2021 Ron Rack. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Charlene Rack is an adventurous and fun-loving wife, mother of three grown daughters, and “Mimi,” who travels often to visit her grandkids. With her experience as a homeschool mom, she is an organizer of fun and enriching activities for children of all ages. She’s transitioning to the “empty nest” by writing humorous and inspirational articles for publication. Read her blog at Grandma’s Coffee Soup.