Every year, from December 16-24, churches and chapels in the Philippines are packed with people to attend the “Misa de Aguinaldo” or commonly called Simbang Gabi (pronounced: Seembang Guhbee) In the olden times, these novena Masses were celebrated before the sun rose, specifically for farmers who needed to be working in the fields at the start of day. This Filipino religious custom originated in Europe and was brought to the Philippines by the Spanish conquistadores who brought the Catholic faith to the Philippines in the 16th Century.
The “Aguinaldo Masses” were recognized by Pope Sixtus the V in the 16th century when he granted a plenary indulgence to those who participated in it. “Aguinaldo” is a Spanish word which means “Christmas gift”. The Catholic faithful offer to God nine (9) Masses as a gift on the occasion of the Birth of Jesus Christ as the whole Church rejoices at receiving from God, the gift of His Son. Because, these Masses are celebrated before daybreak or at dawn, “Aguinaldo Masses” are also called “Misa de Gallo” (gallo: Spanish word for rooster) and since these Masses are celebrated before the sun rises; when it is still dark, they are also referred to as “Simbang Gabi” or “Mass at Night”.
Filipinos around the world especially here in the United States brought this religious tradition into their parishes as their “Aguinaldo” or “religious gift” to their new community. At present, Simbang Gabi is considered one of the common celebrations during Advent and is participated in by different cultural and generational groups in the parishes.
Here at St. Joachim Church, Simbang Gabi has been celebrated for 21 years and counting. As the restrictions of the pandemic eases i nour county, we will celebrate Simbang Gabi in person inside our church with a reception in the gymnasium. We will gather as one community of faith in praising God and preparing ourselves for Christmas.
We will also keep the tradition of offering our special “Aguinaldo” or “gift” to God for all the graces our families have received throughout the year or for a special petition. This “Aguinaldo” comes in the form of sacrifices for waking up in the morning and participating in the masses, or monetary offerings by being a Hermano/Hermana or Mass Sponsors. The money collected will be used to sustain the different ministries in our church especially during this time of pandemic when our church funds are running low.
The Filipino-American Ministry of St. Joachim Church is the lead organization of the Simbang Gabi celebration. We encourage each family in our parish to be a sponsor (Hermano/Hermana) for a Mass as our “gift/present” to God for all the blessings we have received from his bounty: our life, our health and our family. May we all come together and have a meaningful celebration of Simbang Gabi this year.
Please contact Ariel Mayormita at 510-5897555 leave your name and contact information for more details or through electronic mail:
“Maligayang Pasko at Masaganang Bagong Taon Sa Inyong Lahat! Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year to All!”