Tomorrow, December 16, marks the start of Simbang Gabi (which literally translates to “night mass,” although we often refer to the masses as dawn masses). It is also called Misa de Gallo which is Spanish for Rooster’s Mass.
This is a Filipino tradition which seeks to prepare us for the celebration of Christmas or Christ’s birth. From December 16-24, churches will hold masses typically starting at 4am or 5am. This is a 9-day novena and a lot of Filipinos struggle to complete the 9 day masses as they request for something or to serve as a form of sacrifice. You cannot imagine just how warm and comforting your bed can feel at 4am on a cold, Christmas season morning.
At the Christ the King Church in Greenmeadows, masses will be at 5AM. There will also be a “Simba sa Gabi” (Mass at Night) from December 15-23, 2006 at 8pm at the Main Church although on December 16 and 23, the mass will be at 7:30pm. This is a new practice these days (the SM malls also have them) — I guess it targets the working crowd who may not be able to do the dawn masses.
Whichever series of masses you attend, please take time to reflect on Christ’s birth this season. Going to mass daily is a good start. Enjoy being with your families and friends, enjoy eating the puto bumbong and bibingka (native rice cakes and delicacies that are usually taken after simbang gabi) but most of all, rejoice in God’s great love for you that He sent His Only Son.
The dawn masses were said to have started during the Spanish times. Farmers had wanted to attend masses prior to Christmas but could not leave their work or fields. It was in this context, that the practice of dawn masses started. Let us take our cue from the farmers. What you sow, you shall reap. Invest in time with the Lord this Christmas season and you are sure to see a bright new day. May only good things bloom for all of us. God bless. =)