With shorter curfew hours, more parishioners are expected to be able to attend the nine-day “Simbang Gabi” masses which begin tomorrow, December 16.


In the Archdiocese of Manila, Apostolic Administrator Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo thanked Mayor Isko Moreno for adjusting the curfew hours which will be effective from 12 midnight to 3 a.m. to give churchgoers a chance to attend the novena masses.

“We are very thankful for his consideration,” Pabillo said. Metro Manila mayors have also agreed to adjust the curfew hours to 12 midnight to 3 a.m. for the same purpose effective last December 1.

“We have also advised all the parishes under the jurisdiction of the Manila archdiocese to celebrate more masses to give the faithful more opportunities to go to church,” Pabillo said. To observe physical distancing, only 30 percent of the church’s capacity is allowed under the general community quarantine.

As in the past years, devout Catholics are expected to attend tomorrow the first of the nine-day “Simbang Gabi” dawn masses, which will be held at dawn in all Catholic churches across the country and in many parts of the world where many Filipino communities observe the age-old tradition.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has issued guidelines for the observance amid the pandemic. CBCP president Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles said, the masses in the evening may start as early as 6 p.m. while in the morning, the last Aguinaldo mass must be at 6 a.m.

The bishop in coordination with the pastors of the parishes and the local government unit may also decide to hold Simbang Gabi masses in different venues which may be large enough to accommodate more people but still observing social distancing, Valles said.

He also encouraged the live streaming of all the holy masses for all those who cannot attend the masses physically.

Considered as one of the oldest but well observed Christmas traditions in the Philippines, church bells will peal before the break of dawn for the duration of the ‘Simbang Gabi’ which are held at 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. with the final mass, the Misa de Gallo (rooster’s mass) on Dec. 24, Christmas Eve.

In recent years, to accommodate the needs of the faithful on different work schedules, anticipated ‘Simbang Gabi’ masses are held the night before at around 7 p.m. in many parishes as well as in chapels in shopping centers. This year, however, the CBCP said, the bishop in coordination with the Commission on Liturgy and the priests of the parishes may decide on the holding of anticipated masses as a pastoral accommodation.

Also known as Misa de Aguinaldo (gift mass), churchgoers offer the gift of sacrifice in waking up before the break of dawn for nine consecutive days to attend the dawn masses for different intentions: in thanksgiving, as a form of worship, or for a petition. Others, in traditional Filipino belief, attend to obtain special graces upon completing the nine-day masses.

The ‘Simbang Gabi’ is an old tradition with deep roots in the country’s religious culture, dating back to 1565 when Spanish “conquistador” Miguel Lopez de Legazpi celebrated the first Feast of the Nativity.

The practice originated in Mexico when in 1587, Fray Diego de Soria, prior to the Convent of San Agustin Acolman, asked permission from the Holy Father to hold Christmas masses for the farmers who woke up very early to work.

During the 16th century, Pope Sixtus V decreed that the dawn masses should also be held in the Philippines every 16th of December. At that time, it gave the farmers a chance to hear mass before working in the fields.

Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2020/12/15/more-parishioners-expected-to-attend-nine-day-simbang-gabi/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=more-parishioners-expected-to-attend-nine-day-simbang-gabi)