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Simbang Gabi (Dawn Mass) å la Vicita Iglesia

San Isidro Parish Church at around past 4AM, my first parish for this year’s Misa De Gallo.100_8106
I’m not sure how it started in Christmastime of last year that I started attending the dawn masses in different parish churches. I know it’s very un-ordinary because we usually attend dawn masses to the church that is most nearest to us considering the time that we need to wake up and prepare. I guess I was checking the schedules from each church within my home vicinity and I ended up attending mass to each of the churches.

A good friend of mine is asking if I will do the same this year hopping from one church to another to complete the nine novena masses.  She told me that she wishes to do the same but the distance of churches from the place where she lives is inconvenient.  Well that’s another advantage for my being an “urbanista”.  I feel lucky that I dwell in a place that is conveniently accessible to many important public facilities like malls, supermarkets, wet markets, airport and even churches.

My friends knew about how I completed my dawn mass novena last year because I used to post about it in my Facebook, plus the food I ate after each mass.  So it’s a sort of rewarding myself a good eat for celebrating each dawn mass from different parishes.  The comments in my status during those posts were all amusing.  Thanks to the Facebook timeline I was able to retrieve my dawn mass story last year.  C’mon take a peek!
Dawn 1 - Our Lady of Sorrows Parish
(coffee & brownies :)
Dawn 2 - Sta. Clara de Montefalco Parish
(kape at nilagang saging na saba :)
Dawn 3 - The Shrine of Jesus, The Way The Truth & The Life Parish
(coffee & "Bauli Il Panettone" cake :)
Dawn 4 - San Isidro Labrador Parish
(coffee & pancit canton :( )
Dawn 5 - San Rafael Parish
(coffee & brazo de mercedes :)
Dawn 6 - (back to) Our Lady of Sorrows Parish
(coffee & mocha roll)
Dawn 7 - (back to) The Shrine of Jesus, The Way, The Truth & The Life Paris
(J'bee's coffee, sausage n egg, & pancake :)
Dawn 8 - (Back to) San Isidro Labrador Parish - Rai as server
(coffee & blueberry oat cookie)
Dawn 9 - (back to) Sta. Clara de Montefalco Parish - Viel as server
BIBINGKA! at PUTO BUMBONG! sa wakasss yey! at tsokolateng swiss miss he he
.. last dawn mass in 2010! Thank you God for making me feel tired that I need to retire at night & for giving me strength to wake up & face another day!
Fun! Isn't it? 

This year 2011, I'm currently doing the same plus I'm taking some photos before and after each mass and I want to share them with you.  All of these photos are taken between 4AM to 5:30AM.  I tell you the city has never been soo beautiful in my eyes.

Mass transit service like the LRT also adjusted their schedules to accommodate the church goers.
100_8109
”City after dark” - Macapagal Avenue 100_8122
“Bukas bente-kuatro oras!” (24 hours fast food alley)100_8123
Our Lady of Sorrows Parish Church
100_8131
Here’s some important facts about “Simbang Gabi” (Dawn Mass / Misa De Gallo) that I got from the website of the Archdiocese of Manila.
SIMBANG GABI is one of the longest and most popular among the Filipino traditions in the country. It is when Catholic churches across the nation start to open their doors shortly before the break of dawn to welcome the faithful to the Simbang Gabi mass.
Simbang Gabi or Mass at Dawn is a nine-day novena to the Blessed Mother. The novena begins December 16 as early as 4 in the morning and culminates with the “Misa de Gallo” on Christmas Eve to welcome the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. In some churches, the panuluyan is reenacted showing the effort of Joseph and Mary to find a suitable birthplace.
ORIGIN
Simbang Gabi traces its roots in Mexico when, in 1587, the Pope granted the petition of Fray Diego de Soria, prior of the convent of San Agustin Acolman, to hold Christmas mass outdoors because the Church could not accommodate the huge number of people attending the evening mass.
During the old times, the pre-dawn mass is announced by the ringing of the church bells. In some rural areas, an hour before the start of Simbang Gabi, a brass band plays Christmas music all over the town. It is also believed that parish priests would go far knocking on doors to wake and gather the faithful to attend the misa de gallo. Farmers as well as fishermen wake up early to hear the Gospel before going to their work and ask for the grace of good harvest.
SIMBANG GABI NOW AND THEN
The changing of times does not break the preservation of celebrating Simbang Gabi although it is celebrated in new ways. Still, the tradition of Simbang Gabi continues. Part of it are the colorful lights and lanterns that fill every streets. Beautiful parols are hung in every window. Songs of the season are played everywhere to warm the hearts. Families, friends and even individuals find its way going to the nearest church to attend the nine-day novena. Shortly after the misa de gallo, families gather in their homes to celebrate Noche Buena and feasted on various delicacies like queso de bola, bibingka, puto bungbong, or a drink of salabat or hot chocolate.
Churchyard scene during dawn mass (modern time)100_8129100_8133
SIGNIFICANCE
Simbang Gabi has become one of the most popular traditions in the country. But it is not just a tradition that is celebrated because we need to do so. It is a significant moment not only because 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, but what is important is the disposition of the person who receives the Lord’s blessing.

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