PRAYER FOR PRIESTS.
Divine Saviour, Jesus Christ, who have entrusted your work of redemption to the priests, who take your place on earth. I offer you, through the hands of your most holy mother for the sanctification of your priests and future priests this whole day, all my prayers, works, joys, sacrifices and sufferings. Give us saintly priests. Grant to them apostolic hearts, filled with love for you and all the souls belonging to you, so that, being themselves sanctified in you, they may sanctify us who are entrusted to their care and bring us safely into heaven. Loving Jesus, bless all their prayers and words at the altar and in the confessional, in the pulpit, in the school and at the sickbed. Call many young men to the priesthood and monastic life. Protect and sanctify all who will become your priests. And grant to the souls of the priests who have departed this life, eternal rest. And to you, Mary, Mother of all priests, take them under your special protection and lead them ever to the highest priestly sanctity. Amen.
Katolikong Katesismo on the 3rd Sunday of Advent, December 13, 2015.
WHAT IS SIMBANG GABI?
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.
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 accomodate 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 fisherman 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.
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 MATTER 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.