COME the Christmas season, the Cultural Center of the Philippines usually gets busy with the preparation for its annual tradition of Simbang Gabi. But since this year has been quite isolated, the CCP has decided to migrate this time-honored tradition to the digital platform.
The Center partnered with different parishes all over the Philippines to put the spotlight on the different ways the Filipino people from the different regions celebrate the dawn masses, as well as reach out and uplift the spirits of our kababayans whose communities have been devastated by the recent typhoons.
The CCP Simbang Gabi, an annual traditional, will start on December 15 to 23, 9pm (Anticipated Masses), and December 16 to 24 (Dawn Masses), 5am. Followed by the Misa de Aguinaldo on December 24, 9pm, celebrated from St. Gregory the Great Cathedral Parish (also known as the Albay Cathedral) in Legazpi City.
The CCP Simbang Gabi culminates with a special Christmas Day Mass on December 25, 10am, with Cardinal Luis Tagle leading the celebration all the way from Pontificio Collegio Filipino in Rome.
All masses will be livestreamed via the official CCP Facebook Page and YouTube Channel. It will also be broadcasted on the CNN Philippines Channel.
But in this trying time, why should we still celebrate Simbang Gabi? Let us count the reasons this time-honored tradition should be kept alive.
“Many wars, natural disasters, political changes, changes in society, problems have occurred in this country ever since we ceased to be a part of Espan?a in 1898, and yet this practice has endured because the Misa de Gallo is an expression of the strong faith and piety of our ancestors, who themselves have willed and prayed that the Catholic Faith that they have believed and accepted may remain forevermore in this land, and that may God continue to bless and protect this country in perpetuity.
As much as possible, people should still practice the centuries-old tradition of the Misa de Gallo/Rorate Mass/Simbang Gabi not only because of the main reason why this has always been done (as a Votive Mass of 9 consecutive dawns, asking God through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for the spread and preservation of the Catholic Faith in this country) and its religious significance, but also because this is one of the most enduring intangible traditions that Filipino Catholics have inherited from our ancestors.
And it is beautiful and right indeed if we continue to preserve and practice our traditions in order for our culture and heritage to be preserved and be passed on to future generations; and having a strong sense of history and culture gives our people a strong sense of identity, a sense of belonging, which makes us Filipinos know and appreciate what we have and what we are, which will become a source of strength, inspiration and joy in our everyday lives, as we continue to face the challenges of the future.” — Fr. Al John A. Miñoza, parish priest of St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Loboc, Bohol
“During this pandemic, many people became depressed, anxious, and sad. Some felt hopeless because they could not see anymore a bright future especially many lost their jobs, business have closed, people’s poverty became worse. The church has a very important role in these trying times. Simbang Gabi is one of our beautiful traditions that give us hope that everything will just pass. Because the Messiah will come and restore all back to God. The symbols of Advent and Christmas like the stars (parols), Christmas Tree, the Belen, Advent Wreath and other Christmas decorations create an atmosphere of a joyful expectation in the hearts of the people.” — Fr. JAMES NARISMA, CSSR, the rector of Our Mother of Perpetual Help (Redemptorist) Church (San Miguel, Iligan City)
“Simbang Gabi is waiting in darkness. Together as a family and community of faith, we hold on to the four candles of the Advent Wreath that brings us Peace, Hope, Joy and Love. These are the graces we need in this trying time. Simbang Gabi 2020 will be the most Real yet most Spirit-filled as we await a most meaningful Christmas in the midst of the pandemic. We need it.” — Rev. Fr. Deogracias Kerr S. Galang, the parish priest of the Holy Cross Parish (Margot), Sapang Bato, Pampanga
“Simbang Gabi is a very beautiful Filipino tradition. It is an expression of our faith as Catholics and a manifestation of our love for God in the Child Jesus. Nothing can stop us from that, not even the pandemic. The more we have to uphold this tradition especially these difficult times where so many are losing faith and hope. This will remind people to hold on to God and never lose hope.” — Rev. Fr. Julius B. Clavero, SSJV, the parish priest of St. Francis Xavier Parish (Pueblo de Oro, Cagayan de Oro City)