Rorate caeli desuper, et nubes pluant justum: aperiatur terra, et germinet Salvatorem.
“Shower down, heavens, from above, and the clouds shall rain the just. The earth shall unclench and grow the redeemer.” (cf. Is 45:8)
It is Christmas in the middle of Lent! Nine months before Christmas, on the traditional day of the vernal equinox, we sing the introit from the fourth Sunday of Advent again.
The liturgical tradition knows several days like this one, when fasting is interrupted by solemnities. (Where Benedictines celebrate their patron saint on March 21, you find three solemnities within six days right in the middle of Lent.)
Even if this is not its original purpose, the solemnity of Annunciation can help us understand Lent better. The earthly world is not bad. We are not supposed to deny earthly joy and beauty. God himself became part of this world. The melody of aperiatur terra, “the earth shall unclench,” makes us not only look up – into heaven –, but also down on the earth. The earth is where we can find God.