Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rorate Mass at St. Ann's, Buffalo, New York

One of our readers sent in the following report of a recent Rorate Mass held in Buffalo, New York. I was intrigued to read the commentary about some national customs. If anyone wishes to comment or add to this in the comments, please do so.

Saturday, December 18th, feast of the Expectation of Mary saw the return of the Rorate Mass to the Diocese and city of Buffalo, New York after decades of absence. The Rorate Mass (Roratemesse in German, Msza Roratnia or Roraty in Polish) was celebrated at St. Ann's Church and Shrine, an ethnically German parish that later welcomed many Polish immigrants and their families, and is now a predominantly Black parish in the inner-city.

The Rorate Mass was offered according to the usus antiquior by the Reverend David Bialkowski, pastor of St. John Gualbert's Parish in Cheektowaga, NY (just outside of Buffalo). Fr. Bialkowski regularly celebrates the Extraordinary Form at the historic Maria Hilf, or Our Lady Help of Christians Chapel, also in Cheektowaga.

Organized by a parishioner, the Mass was a normal sung Mass with incense, with a few ethnic variations: the presence of a seventh candle near the altar, called in Polish the Roratka or Świeca roratnia. The candle traditionally has some Marian attribute including a flower (usually a lily to symbolize Our Lady's perpetual virginity) tied to the candle with a blue or white ribbon. The candle symbolizes Christ, the Light of the World, coming from Mary.

The other (Polish) custom was that the lights were turned on at the intonation of the Gloria, whereas the German tradition is to remain in darkness, with the faithful holding their lit candles throughout the Mass.

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