General Admission

How to correctly deal with Simbang Gabi

By Al S. Mendoza

TODAY, December 16, is the start of Simbang Gabi.

Called Dawn Mass in English, Simbang Gabi has been a tradition observed religiously yearly by the Catholic faithful.

This ritual calls upon you to go to Church and hear Mass.

Chicken feed.

The only problem is, you need to be at the church at usually 4 a.m.

The times have changed so that there are different versions now in observance of Simbang Gabi.

Different church, different chart.

But mostly, a Simbang Gabi usually is started no later than 5 a.m.

But there are more radical changes in some parishes today.

The one I like is a Simbang Gabi held at night, a drastic breakaway from the one observed before daybreak.

Did it break the spirit of Simbang Gabi, which is, by practice, done at the break of dawn?

Not at all, I believe.

For, truly, if you do Simbang Gabi designed for Simbang Gabi—whether held at night or early dawn—it is what it is: Simbang Gabi.

If we strictly follow the rule, Simbang Gabi, by its very description, should be really held at night. 

Isn’t Simbang Gabi translated into Night Mass in English?

How come Simbang Gabi is generally celebrated at dawn is a seeming misnomer.

It is called Simbang Gabi because every Dawn Mass starts at dawn, when sunrise is actually hours away from happening?

Anyway, what is Simbang Gabi again?

Its beginnings started when farmers would rise from bed at the first crow of the rooster.

Before tending to their rice field, wheat field or corn field, the farmers would drop by the church to give thanks to the Lord for an expected bounty of harvest.

I can always see that Simbang Gabi symbolizes God’s innate goodness.

The ritual reminds us of eternal grace from God and we need to reciprocate that by attending the Simbang Gabi without fail.

It is a nine-day vow ending on the eve of the birth of Jesus Christ on Dec. 25.

Have you ever completed the Simbang Gabi?

If yes, that is the ultimate in discipline.  Blessed are you.

Vows are actually the hardest to heed.

It’s like making a promise and breaking it would seem like you have no word of honor.

Such a vow is actually a challenge that involves one’s personal conviction.

But there’s a whale of a difference between a vow made to your brother and a vow made to God.

The first one is made in planet Earth, the second one made in heaven.

You make a vow to complete the Simbang Gabi’s demanding nine-day novena, you need to keep it.

Otherwise, you make yourself a liar before God.

My advice?

Don’t say you will complete it.

Just say you will try your best to complete it.

God is the most understanding of all.

Merry Christmas!

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