There is a beautiful custom during the Advent Season to celebrate a dawn Mass in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, called the Rorate Mass, after the first line of the opening antiphon: Rorate cæli desuper et nubes pluant iustum... Here in the Philippines of course, we have a full novena of Dawn Masses beginning December 16. But for our community, majority of which composed by the theologians would have gone home by that time, December 12, the memorial of our Lady of Guadalupe, would be a good occasion to honor our Lady in this special season with a dawn Mass.
Honoring Our Lady with a dawn Mass, especially during the Advent Season is a fitting way to render homage to Our Lady and to prepare for the coming of the Lord. Verily, the Church has always hailed her as the dawn that precedes the rising of the Sun of Justice: "Who is she that comes forth like the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array?" Rising early is a sign of readiness to receive the Lord, at any moment when he comes, just like Mary who gave her yes to God even in a seemingly very importune time when she had already made her own plans for her life.
And so let us pray to Our Lady to help us prepare to receive her Son. Below are the lyrics and music of the Marian antiphon, Alma Redemptoris Mater, traditionally sung after Compline from the eve of the First Sunday of Advent until the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.
Alma Redemptoris Mater,
quae pervia caeli porta manes,
et stella maris, succurre cadenti,
surgere qui curat, populo:
tu quae genuisti, natura mirante,
tuum sanctum Genitorem,
Virgo prius ac posterius,
Gabrielis ab ore, sumens illud Ave,
V. Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae.
R. Et concepit de Spiritu Sancto.
Oremus. Gratiam tuam, quaesumus, Domine, mentibus nostris infunde: ut qui, Angelo nuntiante, Christi Filii tui incarnationem cognovimus; per passionem eius et crucem, ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
V. Post partum, Virgo, inviolata permansisti.
R. Dei Genetrix, intercede pro nobis.
Oremus. Deus, qui salutis aeternae, beatae Mariae virginitate fecunda, humano generi praemia praestitisti: tribue, quaesumus; ut ipsam pro nobis intercedere sentiamus, per quam meruimus auctorem vitae suscipere, Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum. Amen.
Loving mother of the Redeemer,
gate of heaven, star of the sea,
assist your people who have fallen
yet strive to rise again.
To the wonderment of nature
you bore your Creator,
Yet remained a virgin after as before.
You who received Gabriel's joyful greeting,
have pity on us poor sinners.
V. The Angel of the Lord announced unto Mary.
R. And she conceived by the Holy Spirit.
Let us pray. Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts: that as we have known the incarnation of Thy Son Jesus Christ by the message of an Angel, so too by His Cross and passion may we be brought to the glory of His resurrection through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
From Christmas Eve until the Purification
V. After childbirth thou didst remain a virgin.
R. Intercede for us, O Mother of God.
Let us pray. O God, who, by the fruitful virginity of blessed Mary, hast bestowed upon mankind the reward of eternal salvation: grant, we beseech Thee, that we may experience her intercession, through whom we have been made worthy to receive the author of life, our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son. Amen.