Simbang Gabi…A tradition

Today is December 16, 2009 and for all Filipinos it’s time for Simbang Gabi (for some they start it at the evening of December 15 – anticipated mass for December 16 dawn Mass). Simbang Gabi is a novena to our Blessed Mother. It’s a 9 days mass that begins December 16 and culminates with the “Misa de Gallo” on Christmas Eve to welcome the birth of Jesus Christ.

 The Simbang Gabi is already tradition that Filipinos can’t get away with their system. It’s been already stamped to us since our forefathers and passes to our next generation. The change of times does not break the preservation of celebrating Simbang Gabi although it is celebrated in new ways and with other objective. Still, the tradition of Simbang Gabi continues.

A little History about Simbang Gabi, It was in or about 1660, during the early years of Christianity in the Philippines that the “Simbang Gabi” or the “Misa de Gallo” became a Filipino religious tradition. During Advent, in preparation for the coming of Jesus at Christmas, the missionary friars held nine days of Masses to usher in the event of Christ’s birth. These Masses were celebrated in the early morning hours, typically at about 4:00 AM when the roosters crow to announce the coming of a new day.

There was a practical reason behind the missionary father’s design to hold early Mass. The Filipinos are a farming people, and they typically greeted the dawn of a new day in the fields while working the land. The missionary fathers decided that they could implant in the hearts and minds of the theretofore heathen people the substance of the Catholic religion, preserve the Catholic faith and continue the propagation of the gospels by integrating a distinctly Filipino custom with the needs of Catholic worship

The agricultural roots of “Misa de Gallo” or “Simbang Gabi” are all but forgotten now. However, the fascination of going to church at dawn, in order to start the new day with worship, is as strong as ever among Filipinos. For the children, it announces that Christmas is just around the corner. For most, the practice has acquired its own smell and flavor, and spiritual significance distinct from any other time of the year.

But we should not forget the significance of Simbang Gabi to us. It is not just the tradition that is celebrated because we need to do so. It is significant not only it strengthens relationships among family members but also because it is the time where our faith is intensified. This is the time where we mostly feel the presence of the Lord because it is the spiritual preparation for Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ. It does not matter if one has the stamina to complete the novena or not, what really matters is what is inside the heart. The blessing does not depend on the number of mass attended, or whether we completed the whole 9-day mass, but what is important is the disposition of the person who receives the Lord’s blessing.


13 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by MJA on January 2, 2014 at 6:56 PM

    We would like to formally bring to the attention of Diocese of Cubao our collective request to retain Father Ramon Elioraga @ Saint Joseph..He is an inspiration to all the parishioners here..Pls..

  2. Father Mon, hope you stay longer in our parish. God bless..

  3. Yes, I very much agree with all your comments especially with Father Mon. He inspires a lot of people. He has so much wisdom. We are so lucky to have him at St Joseph Shrine, I learned so much from him and all his reflections with the message of God. PAKIKINGGAN MO TALAGA SYA. When he new at St Joseph, Its different feeling. Many things to listen with. Nitong lumipas na Simbang Gabi, all his masses we completely attended. We thank you with all his inspirational message.

  4. Posted by MJA on December 3, 2013 at 12:28 PM

    Hope for his longer stay in our Parish St. Joseph..Father Ramon we look forward to listening always to your homily and continue sharing us your wisdom. Please please stay at St. Joseph so it will be accessible to attend in your mass. God Bless you always!

  5. Yes, very much agree with all the comments about Father Ramon ” Mon” Elioraga. He inpires a lot of mass goers..his wisdom, admirable..!! He always combines humor & intelligence everytime he delivers homily. We have so much to be thankful and lucky we are that he is our Parish Priest now. Our prayers for his good so that he’ll be able to serve as inspiration to many people..God Bless!

  6. Posted by maia on August 10, 2010 at 7:12 PM

    i am so glad you do also appreciate masses presided by father mon eloriaga at landmark trinoma.
    i am one of those who had completed that imbang gabi and we share the same thought that he is really good especially in preching and making us aware of the bible, of gods time.

    i am one of those person who as of now actually wish that when i wake up tomorrow, its CHRISTMAS already.

    thank you.

  7. Posted by LaNcE on December 31, 2009 at 4:05 PM

    i also experienced misa de gallo at trinoma… its awesome… father ramon eloriaga is very humurous priest i ever met… u know hius facebook account…???

  8. I was suppose to ask a question that I was shy to ask. But I found the answer right away after I read your post completely. Anyway, here it is… Is it true that Dawn Mass will lose it’s meaning or its ‘magic’ if you weren’t able to complete it? The answer lies at the conclusion part, the one I expected to see. And it confirms what my faith tells me.

    Haha… you can tell that probably it’s my first time for this. 🙂

    Btw, evening mass sounds good too! So, where to? Hmm…

    ~still insomniac (can’t go back 2 sleep) oO,

  9. Posted by Reid Emmanuel on December 16, 2009 at 7:33 AM

    Not really, it does not depend whether you complete it or not. It’s based on your faith and it based on what your wishing for (hehehe:D)

    Yeah, evening mass is also cool. Try it sometimes. Usually evening mass is 8 pm but it still depends on your parish. You may check your parish for the schedule and sometimes it’s nice to try other parish.

  10. Better early than late. For today, December 16, 2009, I missed the most anticipated first day of mass for Simbang Gabi. I had the alarm set at 4:15am for the scheduled Eucharistic celebration at University of Sto. Tomas (UST).

    Consciously while snoozing, I had to get up at a certain time for the mass. While I was asleep, my mind was kind of waiting for the ringing to be my wake up call. I finally woke up, only to find out that it didn’t work. Now, I realize I had a hard time sleeping last night. So, my body clock started counting 1 hour prior my body gave in to finally rest.

    I’ll try again tomorrow. And anticipate for the next year. 🙂

    Thanks for the information.

    ~psyched insomniac o.O

  11. Posted by Em-R on December 16, 2009 at 6:59 AM

    I’m missing the Dawn Masses already but my parish is too far from our house right now and you can’t walk to go there and the sad thing is there’s no jeepney traveling at that hour (4:30 am) that’s why I attending the evening masses in St. John Bosco Parish in Makati after work.

  12. QUOTE: Today is December 16, 2009 and for all Filipinos it’s time for Simbang Gabi (for some they start it at the evening of December 15 – anticipated mass for December 16 dawn Mass). Simbang Gabi is a novena to our Blessed Mother. It’s a 9 days mass that begins December 16 and culminates with the “Misa de Gallo” on Christmas Eve to welcome the birth of Jesus Christ.

    Your post seems to be advanced 🙂 It’s only December 15 now. Excited ha! Heheh.

    And you know, I think the December 15 Mass in now not an anticipated one. The Reading for the December 15 Mass not an anticipated reading for the December 16 Mass. That’s according to Fr. Ramon Eloriaga who presides over the Mass at the Landmark Dept Store in Trinoma Mall, Quezon City.

  13. Posted by Em-R on December 16, 2009 at 6:46 AM

    Hehe…Yeah its kinda advance. I supposed to put it in my draft first then publish today but I hit the wrong button and I supposed to correct the date today but you already commented it so I leave it that way.

    Really, it’s already not anticipated now. Because one time last year I attended the evening mass and the dawn mass the reading is the same even the gospel. Maybe I’m gonna check it again.

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