“This started in rural Philippines of those early times. Farmers woke up early and before they went to the fields, they first attended the Holy Mass.
Wikimedia/Patrick Roque
Churches ready for Simbang Gabi
Robertzon Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - December 15, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Just 10 days before Christmas, the Catholic Church is all set for the observance of the traditional Simbang Gabi that will start tomorrow.  

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said they are ready for the nine-day dawn masses as he admitted that it remains a challenge for them to make the experience effective for churchgoers. 

He added that the Christmas season is the busiest days for Filipino priests. 

“The challenge for the institutional church is how to make the most out of this practice to bring people to faith in the Son of God who became one of us, the Emmanuel. So, although the Advent season has the heaviest workload for the priests, we make it a point to attend to the needs of the people. There is already a thirst for God that is occasioned by this tradition,” he pointed out.

Pabillo said people expect “good homilies and meaningful liturgical celebrations” during the nine-day dawn masses. 

He also said that, for Filipino Catholics, Christmas would not be complete without Simbang Gabi as it has been part of the Filipino custom forged centuries ago to prepare for Christmas Day. 

“This started in rural Philippines of those early times. Farmers woke up early and before they went to the fields, they first attended the Holy Mass. This custom also has a Marian motif,” he explained. 

Over the years, the Filipino people have changed ways on observing Simbang Gabi, especially among residents in the metropolis and those working abroad. 

Pabillo said most people prefer the Simbang Gabi while waiting for the evening rush hour traffic to ease up, while some overseas Filipino workers prefer to have it done in the late afternoon because of the cold or for other logistical reasons. 

“Nowadays, many see the Simbang Gabi as an act of sacrificial love to complete the nine days. It is really a sacrifice to wake up early or go home late because it is done daily, especially for many working people, who have regular jobs,” he said. 
Others attend Simbang Gabi because of their peers or because they want to watch the girls or the boys – an act that the Catholic Church also welcomes. Whatever the reason, Pabillo said it is God’s way of touching their hearts for them to get closer to him. 

SIMBANG GABI
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