Simbang Gabi – A Rewarding Experience

Simbang Gabi ( literally translated in English as “Night or Evening Mass”) is famous to many Catholics worldwide, especially to Filipinos. As mentioned in previous blog posts on the subject, Simbang Gabi is also better known in other countries as “Misa de Aguinaldo”, Misa de Gallo or “Dawn Mass”. Traditionally, it is being undertaken during the Advent season of the liturgical year in preparation for the Christmas season. Simbang Gabi normally takes nine days of novena masses in the wee hours of the morning (about 4:00 a.m.)  of 16th December and ends on the eve of 24th December.

In the U.S.,especially in NYC and particularly for Filipino migrants, the Simbang Gabi is celebrated during night time by various parish communities.  One of the parishes which observe the said tradition  is the Holy Child Jesus Parish in Queens where Filipino parishioners are treated to a spiritual enlightenment via the full 9-day Simbang Gabi. But the said celebrations was highlighted by the Annual one-day Simbang Gabi  held at St. Patrick's Cathedral, whose overall chairman for this year's event was  Linda Bolano.

The traditional Simbang Gabi held at the Philippine Consulate is something unique as it gathered various organizations in one roof, celebrating and completing the 9-day novena masses. This arrangement dates back to 25 years ago and it has been a tradition ever since by Filipino-Americans that even the Archdiocese of New York re-considered its earlier decision to terminate the holding of the said masses in the said official venue. The Archdiocese had probably recognized the importance of holding the said masses at the Philippine Consulate as the latter had served as the place where majority of Filipinos could claim it as their own, particularly with the “parols” or Christmas lanterns being hanged and lighted up, thus the feeling as if they're back home. The celebration of Christmas at the Consulate (or the newly coined “Pasko sa Konsulado”) actually serves not only as a soft mantle or a temporary cure for nostalgia while far from loved ones but it also provides everyone the opportunity to meditate and ponder on the role of the Blessed Mother in their faith and to prepare spiritually for Christ's coming. The singing and chanting of Christmas carols, the bonding among fellow countrymen and the food being shared thereafter are simply add-ons for those who attend the said events.

The Holy Child Jesus/St. Mary Gates of Heaven Choir group was invited to be part of the sponsoring organizations on the 7th day by providing liturgical music for the said event.  As indicated in previous articles about choir organization, liturgical music is an essential ingredient in any Eucharistic celebration. Aside from the fun that you get from singing, you also double your points as far as gaining graces and indulgences. In addition to the homily delivered by Msgr. Oscar Aquino, JCD during the celebration, the Philippine Consul General to NYC, Ambassador Mario de Leon likewise emphasized on the need for his fellow countrymen to continue their  generosity for the welfare of their native land, especially those in need. On the other hand, DCG Tess Dizon-de Vega shared her thoughts on the relevance of Simbang Gabi and mentioned briefly about the life of St. Lucy, whose feast day happened to be on the same day.

(Note that the above photos are strictly for exclusive use of, hence not for reproduction).

Among the sponsoring organizations on the 7th day were: Saladmaster, Nabuenos, USA, Fiesta Auto Insurance, San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila in NY, Inc., Team United Maharlika Foundation, Inc., Filipino International Community of America, University of Santo Tomas Nurses' Alumni Association, Pangasinan Association USA, Inc. and the Our Lady of Manaoag Society in America, whose President Nida Cortez actively participated.  One of the sponsors for the 6th day of the Simbang Gabi was the Ay Borongan Association where their choir performed during the said momentous occasion (see photo below).

After the event, everyone went home with renewed spirit, more joyful and full of hope for the coming years.