SIMBANG GABI: ACCOMPANYING MARY THROUGH THE CELEBRATION OF NOVENA MASSES
Join us December 15th -23rd for Holy Rosary at 6:45 PM and Simbang Gabi Mass at 7:00PM
Simbang Gabi (Filipino for “Night Masses”) is traditionally a pre-dawn novena of Masses that lasts nine days, from December 15 to 23. In Spain around the time of the Tenth Council of Toledo in 656, there was an ancient tradition of celebrating the Feast of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary on December 18. The accompanying of the expectant mother of Jesus became a prominent theme that spread throughout the Iberian Peninsula and Italy during the Middle Ages. Eventually, these countries extended this feast to a sequence of nine novena Masses before Christmas. We know this by the numerous decrees that granted special privileges during the celebration of these Masses, the most significant privileges being the singing of the Gloria and the Creed. In Spanish-speaking countries, these Masses were called Misa de Aguinaldo (“Gift Mass”). Aguinaldo referred to the gift-giving practices that occurred throughout Christmas Time until the Feast of Epiphany. In time, the novena combined the many themes of “gifts” (i.e., God’s gift to the world in the person of Jesus and the gifts that Christians, in turn, present to God) together with the notion of accompanying Mary throughout her pregnancy.
Theological and Liturgical Themes-Remember that Simbang Gabi occurs within the second half of Advent. Thus, as in Las Posadas, in the Latin American culture, the theological thrust should point to the larger context of the Paschal Mystery, the Incarnation, and the anticipated celebration of the birth of Christ on December 25. The Mass formularies and readings are taken from the weekdays of Advent. When Simbang Gabi is celebrated in the evening of Saturday and on Sunday, the liturgy of the Sunday of Advent takes precedence.
Here at St. Thomas Aquinas you will see parols (a traditional Filipino paper lantern in the shape of a star) decorating the walkway outside of church.
Refreshments-As in Las Posadas, a social gathering with refreshments takes place after each Mass. Some of the more traditional foods include bibinka (rice cakes), puto bungbong(steamed purple sticky rice with grated coconut on top), and suman sa ibos and suman sa pasko (glutinous rice wrapped in coconut or banana leaves). After the last Simbang Gabi Mass, this gathering is even more festive and includes foods such aslechon (roasted pig), pancit (noodles), adobo chicken and pork, lumpia (meat eggrolls), and much singing and dancing.