Christmas Dawn Masses Start Tomorrow in Catholic Churches

Manila Bulletin, December 14, 2003 | Go to article overview

Christmas Dawn Masses Start Tomorrow in Catholic Churches


Byline: BRENDA PIQUERO TUAZON

The nation continues its proud Christmas "Simbang Gabi" (dawn mass) tradition at dawn tomorrow when millions of Filipino families, braving the cold December air, will gather in Catholic churches and open spaces throughout the country to celebrate a holiday legacy handed down from one generation to the next spanning across several centuries.

In a country whose history and religion have been shaped by centuries of a divergent mix of Western influence, it comes with more than national pride for its people to celebrate a rich and time-honored Christmas tradition that keeps families together at one of the nation's most important Christian event.

For millions of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), Simbang Gabi tradition has become a compelling holiday motivator to come home for, on time for the first of the nine-day dawn masses to share with their families the joy of awaiting the birth of the Prince of Peace in their own homeland.

To the rest of the Filipino population, it has become a sacred duty to observe Simbang Gabi traditions during an auspicious time for families to gather together in preparation for one of Christendom's greatest events.

It is one tradition held in the season of Advent that continues to bridge the gulf among families separated by continents from their loved in search for a better life, and coming as it is during one of the joyful seasons in the liturgical calendar.

The Philippines being the dominant Catholic country this side of the Pacific and distinguished as a devoted Marian homeland, hence, its faithful adherence to the holiday midnight event that finds the Blessed Virgin as a central figure.

It is said that the nine-day dawn masses recall the long search of Joseph and Mary, who was heavy with child, for a "room at the inn" for them to take refuge and for Mary to take rest after a long journey but was turned away by innkeepers in Bethlehem.

At that time, Joseph had taken Mary to travel to Judea from Nazareth to enlist as taxpayers in accordance with the orders of the Roman Empire. …

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