Tomorrow (or tonight rather), we begin one of the most ancient, beautiful, and delicate Christmas traditions in the Philippines. Surely, it is one of a kind and one of the priceless things that makes us Filipino: Simbang Gabi. It comes in different names: such as Misa de Gallo, Simbang Gabi, or Misa de Aguinaldo. Nonetheless, this is one of the practices that is always been looked forward to at this time of the year.
This practice originated during the Spanish times when farmers requested their respective friars that masses should be said even before the rooster crows (that is why, it is sometimes called Misa de Gallo, or Rooster’s Mass). This is to accommodate their need of being able to tend their fields without being subjected to the scorching heat of midday.
In the nine days that immediately precede Christmas Day (December 16-24), devotees flock to the nearby churches to hear masses as early as 4:00 AM. Others however prefer to attend the mass the night before (also known as Mass of Waiting). Local beliefs circulated that one’s wish will be granted whenever the nine days are completed.
Here are five. ways for you to have a meaningful Simbang Gabi this year:
Dispose to meditate.
Pray. Pray. Pray.
This nine-day devotion is a sojourn. It is not only about the sake of completing it. Rather, it is also aimed at someone to know God and him/herself better. The cold winds of December can perfectly acclimate someone to a deeper reflection. Just stay put in silence and listen to the words in your heart: you already began the first step.
Let go of what troubles you.
Do you still have the most painful grudges in your heart that appeared difficult to be extracted? Maybe, the Simbang Gabi may hopefully provide an avenue of healing. As you dispose to meditate (see step 1), you likewise surrender your every trouble and worry. Communicate to God whatever makes your heart heavy right now. Let Him heal, touch, and embrace you. Be immersed in the celebration: the lights around you, the vibrant hymns, the fragrance of incense, and the like. Little did we know, you already find yourself bursting into tears and that you find again your sense of peace.
Cherish it with friends and family.
Invite them over. The celebration of Christmas is not only limited to the Noche Buena itself. The Simbang Gabi is already a good time to start. Allow it to recollect your ties and memories, and to reconnect. Indeed, Simbang Gabi appears more meaningful when you are surrounded by people you love and has been there for you all along. Let such be your bonding time. After the mass, you may also opt for a breakfast get-together either elsewhere or at home.
Look back at the past with gratitude.
The Simbang Gabi also provides a channel to recall all the good things that God has given you over the past 11 months. It allows you to express your gratefulness. As you reminisce, you may see yourself discouraged back then, but you knew you were not alone. God has been there for you through the good and the bad. You never have to wonder nor worry, for God has been your friend and companion all along.
Look forward to the future with hope
The Simbang Gabi may also provide a telescopic approach to someone. It provides the moment for someone to feel relieved, confident, and courageous regardless of what the future holds. The nine days of waking up early is that of devout perseverance. It goes to show that anything we aspired to can be possible in life, as long as we put our heart into it.
Nonetheless, Simbang Gabi is not just all about the wishes granted, to meet the love of one’s life, and all the yearns and desires that we can ask or imagine. It is more of a preparation. It is more of persistence. It is more of having a heart of prayer.
The Simbang Gabi must primarily remind us that regardless of what we are going through right now, you got a God to depend on. Even in the darkest night, He will make you feel alright.
Every time you burn your midnight oil, He assures you that He will bless your toil and bring it to fruition. Hold on to Him and just respond (Salvaloza, 2022). He got you through it all.
May you have a fruitful, devout Simbang Gabi, and Merry Christmas!
Simbang Gabi and Misa De Gallo Schedules in Iloilo (2022)
Sta. Teresita Del Niño Jesus Parish (De Leon)
Immaculate Conception (Tanza)
San Jose Parish Placer (Plaza Libertad)
St. Clement’s Church – Redemptorists (La Paz)
Miraculous Medal Parish (Calumpang)
Espousal of Our Lady Parish (Mandurriao)
Sta. Ana Parish (Molo)