Simbang Gabi at St. Ignatius

By Walter Ruehlig

The public is warmly invited to the Simbang Gabi, a splendid cultural and spiritual treat held annually at St. Ignatius of Antioch Catholic Church, 3351 Contra Loma Blvd., starting December 16th and ending December 24th.

Called the Misa de Gallo (Rooster’s Mass) in Spanish, the nine-day Novena begins each morning at 5 a.m. It helps conclude Advent, a season of joyful and abundantly spiritual expectations and prepares the devotee towards greater appreciation of Christ’s taking human form.

The Presiders will be Father Robert Rien and Father Ronan Rances. After each liturgy a breakfast of native delicacies and patented Filipino hospitality will be served.

The tradition traces back to Mexico in 1587 when the Pope granted a petition of Fray Diego de Soria, the prior of the convent of San Agustin Acolmar, to hold an outdoor Mass as the church could no longer contain the growing evening crowds. The tradition further took hold to allow farmers to hear Mass before going to the fields.

It has become one of the longest and most popular among the Filipino traditions with families hanging colored lights, lanterns and elaborate parols in their windows. In the olden days the church bells would ring as early as 3 a.m. to welcome the faithful to to enter their doors before the break of dawn.

Service would begin as early as 4 a.m. Bands would often play in the streets in rural towns and priests would even be known to knock on doors rousing the parishioners with the Good Word.

For further information contact Clarita Perez at 759-4488 or Sofia Zimmerman at 978-4788.

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