By Leslie Ann Aquino
A Catholic prelate said the traditional “Simbang Gabi” (dawn mass) is also an opportunity for the Church to enliven the faith of the people.
“In the Church, we find the Simbang Gabi a unique opportunity to enliven the faith of the people. Imagine, to have all our churches bursting at the seams with so many people praying for nine consecutive days,” Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said in a Facebook post.
“There are many people who do not regularly go to church but they make it a point to come to the Simbang Gabi masses. So, every year their faith is given a boost,” he added.
Pabillo said when the preaching is done in the proper way, the people grow more in the knowledge of the faith listening to Bible readings and homilies.
The prelate, however, admitted that not all have the good intention to really worship the Lord and pray.
Pabillo cited those who go to the masses because of their barkada, or they want to watch the girls or the boys, but the prelate said God can make use of these mundane reasons to touch their hearts.
“Any small effort to draw close to God can have beneficial effects and can be an occasion for grace to enter their lives,” said Pabillo.
The challenge for the institutional church now, he said, is how to make the most out of the said practice to bring people to faith in the Son of God.
“There is already a thirst for God that is occasioned by this tradition. We do our best to quench this thirst by feeding the people well with good homilies and meaningful liturgical celebrations,” Pabillo said.
“And although the Advent season is one of the heaviest workloads of the priests, we make it a point to attend to the needs of the people,” he added.
The traditional Misa de Gallo or Simbang Gabi kicks off the Christmas season in the Philippines, which is a nine-day novena of Masses held prior to Christmas Day.
The Simbang Gabi Masses are culminated with the “Misa de Gallo” on Christmas eve.