The First Experience of Simbang Gabi Celebration in the Philippines

Brother  Cedrick, SX

I’m glad to share this beautiful experience of realizing how the Filipino Christians are very committed during Christmas season.  Simbang Gabi is an ancient Christian tradition brought by the Spaniard priests during the time of the evangelization of the Philippines. I tried to follow this beautiful tradition with people around us during 9 days of pre-dawn Masses. Although, it was difficult to wake up early in the morning for attending Masses, I managed to participate until the end of the Novena. During that period the Churches and Chapels were so crowded  that you can’t find a place to sit.

In the evening we had Caroling with some groups of youth. We sung Christmas songs in different houses in order to bring them the joy of Christmas and receive a symbolic gift from them. At first, it seemed to me as a funny experience but later I realized how the Filipino are charitable. I took advantage of that to see the condition of life of the people around me and this increase my courage being a missionary.

In conclusion, Simbang Gabi was a precious time for me to prepare for the encounter with Jesus and with people by living the joy of the incarnation. I am grateful to all the people (youth of our pastoral areas and my brothers) who helped me to enjoy those experiences.

Brother  Purba, SX

The advent season was moment of grace for me in my first year in the Philippines. I had many experiences during  Simbang Gabi, Christmas Caroling, and the most important thing was the daily Eucharist.  During Simbang Gabi, I attended Masses early in the morning, and I welcomed the kids and the youth who were coming to our house for singing to get pamasko (snacks, candies, and money).

Even if it was not easy to go to the Church early in the morning, this experience has widened my vision on prayer as an effort to see, seek, and love God in everything.

I was amazed to see how crowded the churches and the chapels were during the period of Advent. Praying with them made me feel more faithful. It was a special opportunity to prepare myself more seriously in welcoming our Lord and Savior.

Brother Isidore, SX

I really enjoyed this moment by participating in the masses that were either anticipated in evenings or  early morning celebrations.  Simbang Gabi is  a traditional celebration in the Philippines  that takes place from December 16 to 24. It was amazing to see so many people joyfully going together (as families, classmates, friends, etc) to Church. Some people believe that by fulfilling those nine days, they receive the Graces they need.

I hope that Simbang Gabi will be preserved as the Filipino way to enjoy Christmas celebration. May God bless all of us according to His will and mercy.

Brother Carlos,  SX

During my four months in the Philippines, the Simbang Gabi (Misa de Gallo) was an interesting experience of getting closer to both Filipino culture and Christian tradition. This experience was a surprising moment due to the nine days of celebrating the masses at 3:00 am.

During these days, I noticed the active presence of the people. However, what called more my attention was that the participants were mostly youth. I can say that the time of Simbang Gabi was a moment in which Catholic Christians  not only woke up early to express their devotions and deep faith but  go to  mass with particular intentions to be answered as well.

Even though I don’t have knowledge of Tagalog, the celebrations were moments for welcoming the coming of the child Jesus. This is for me a kind of immersion and reaffirmation of my identity as a Xaverian Missionary in this new reality.

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