Skip to comments.Simbang Gabi (Day 5 pre-dawn Masses and Novena)
Posted on 12/20/2006 9:01:46 AM PST by NYer
Happy Simbang Gabi to all.
OK, be honest -- how many are scratching their heads?
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but those who fail today's Wide World of Catholicism pop quiz. However, fret not. It's a big church, it happens -- and while it's no easy task serving as the cheat sheet, somebody's gotta do it.
In that vein, today's the fifth day of the traditional novena of pre-dawn Masses that are a revered (not to mention numerically huge) tradition in the Philippines. And where the Filipino community goes, the tradition comes along, packing parishes and sounding the traditional pealing of the bells, regardless of whether the liturgies begin at 3.30am or 7.30pm.
In the US' largest diocese, the celebrations were given a cathedral kickoff before spreading to 114 parishes...
The theme for the 2006 celebrations, taken from the Gospel of Luke (2:12), is "You will find a Child ... lying in a manger" (Makikita ninyo ang isang SANGGOL ... na nakahimlay sa sabsaban). It is a theme that was inspired by Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales of the Archdiocese of Manila when he visited Los Angeles in October to promote his project "Pondo ng Pinoy" (literally translated, Funds for the Filipino) and his Theology of the Crumbs based on the story of Lazarus, the poor man waiting for crumbs to fall from the rich man's (Dives) table....it's even spread to the United Arab Emirates:
"It is taking care of our 'Lazaruses' --- the poor who are just waiting for the crumbs to fall from our tables, the crumbs that we share --- that will bring us to heaven," said Good Shepherd Sister Mary Christina Sevilla, ministry director for the Filipino Community....
Simbang Gabi is a Philippine Advent tradition, a novena of Masses that literally means "night Mass." A uniquely Filipino custom dating back nearly 500 years, Simbang Gabi begins nine nights before Christmas Eve. In the Philippines, families usually make their way to church in the dark to attend dawn Mass; in the U.S. Masses are often held in the evening.
Those who cannot go home try to keep up the tradition in the places where they work. In Dubai, the novena is held at St Marys Church. The parish priest Nen Bunag said around 4,000 Filipinos take part every night.
Here in the States, from the exurbs of Jersey, to California wine country and thousands of venues in-between, the novena's become a multicultural lodestar of the calendar. Post-Mass potlucks fill up with Italian, Polish and Mexican dishes alongside the Filipino mainstays and, to a pastor, the devotion manifested is said to be contagious, "hard-core" and a boon for parish life that spills into the rest of the year across all kinds of boundaries.
As the Catholic conversation endures the ravages of an "If it screeds, it leads" culture, it's just further proof that, more often than not, the best aspects of the church's life continue to operate under a wider radar... even for many of its own.
How many American catholics would be willing to attend a novena at 3:30am? Last year, I attended the 3am closing Mass of 48 hour vigil. I was pleasantly surprised to see people arriving at 2:30am.
We live in the Philippines and went there this morning...4 am. The church was packed, and mainly young people....
Amazing! Is this a daily event throughout the 9 day novena? I've been attending the Christmas Novena at my small Maronite parish. Tonight, we were 3 :-( I told Father about this event in the Phillipines and the large crowds that come. He said in Lebanon, on the Feast of Epiphany, Mass is at Midnight and there, too, the churches are packed. Guess the Americans are "too busy" preparing their homes for Christmas, bu not their hearts. Thank you for sharing this!
Our Parish has a large Filipino community, 25% or more, mostly doctors. The archdiocese of Indianapolis celebrates Simbang Gabi by allowing each of nine parishes celebrate Simgang Gabi. We had several hundred people from around the state come for the service, which is quite beautiful. It's also interesting to hear mass said in Tagalog
Prior to VatII, the Christmas Novena used to be a bigger deal in all Spanish-founded countries, and obviously has continued in the Phillipines, regardless! Latin Americans also still have customs related to it. Oddly enough, in Spain itself celebration of the Christmas Novena has diminished considerably, particularly since VatII, but there are still some areas that have special customs (Posadas, etc. are often related to this).
To my knowledge, it doesn't seem to have had much of an accumulation of cultural and liturgical customs among Northern European believers.
Didn’t the Spanish start the Novena and then brought it to Mexico and the Philippines???
Yes, it started in Spain.
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