This news made my day!
MANILA, Nov. 19, 2010—The faithful who used to attend simbang gabi masses in malls are now urged to go to the parishes for the celebration. [Come to think of it, our parish church is our "home church".]
Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales in a directive sent to archdiocesan clergy said, simbang gabi masses will not be allowed anymore in malls “unless there is a chapel in the establishment, where the Holy Eucharist is celebrated with frequency and duly approved” by the archdiocese.
The guidelines are issued to ensure a “proper, solemn, dignified and meaningful celebration of the Simbang Gabi”, the cardinal said. [Huzzah!]
“We do not allow Simbang Gabi to be celebrated in corridors and hallways of shopping malls where the celebration of the Holy Eucharist is needlessly exposed to shoppers that are indifferent to the celebration,” Rosales said in the circular. [Can my dear TPC readers sign in and comment a HUMONGOUS "AMEN"?]
He said masses for simbang gabi should be celebrated in the parishes or chapels that are duly recognized by the parish.
Simbang gabi, also known as misa de aguinaldo is traditionally celebrated at early dawn, from 4:00 to 5:00 a.m., although it is already a practice in many parishes to celebrate simbang gabi masses in the evening.
“If the Misa de Aguinaldo is celebration from 8:00 o’clock in the evening onwards, it should be motivated by genuine pastoral care for the spiritual benefit of the faithful,” the cardinal stressed. [I know one priest who even wanted to shorten the nine day Mass and have it to three, a sort of Triduum type. But I know his real motives behind it, but I do not want to spoil the great news. Maybe in another post.]
The simbang gabi masses celebrated in the evening started during martial law years because of the curfew imposed by the government at the time.
But the practice has remained because many faithful “who follow the urban rhythm of work find it easier to join in the evening instead of the dawn Masses.”
“We wish to encourage the practice of Simbang Gabi, whether at dawn or in the evening, because it is a great source of spiritual nourishment to our faithful,” the cardinal said.
But celebration of simbang gabi masses at other times such as morning, mid-day or late afternoon mass is not allowed since it “is not in keeping with the liturgical norms of the Archdiocese of Manila and is to be regarded as an abuse.” [How could it be called a Dawn Mass if it is not celebrated at dawn? The liturgical meaning of the dawn is so rich in that it tells the faithful to joyfully anticipate the coming of Jesus, like the sun rising from the East. There are biblical allusions to this and even the Fathers of the Church wrote about this but I do not have the luxury of time now to dig them up. Can my dear TPC readers help me in this one? I am sure Doc Ben can help in this one.]
The simbang gabi or the nine-day dawn masses preceding the feast of Christmas is a tradition brought into the country by the Spanish evangelizers. [Nine days...the same number of days the Apostles and the Blessed Mother spent waiting for the coming of the Paraclete. Thus, we have the novena.]
In 1953, the Plenary Council of the Philippines formally requested Rome for special dispensation to celebrate the nine-day dawn masses leading to Christmas. [And we got it! The only one in the world and Filipinos are known for this.]
Celebrated with solemnity, the simbang gabi masses are votive masses in honor of the Virgin Mary.
“For Filipino Catholics, Simbang Gabi is above all an expression of their filial devotion to Mary, the Mother of God. For nine consecutive days, they join and accompany her, so to speak, as she awaits the birth of her Son,” according to Rosales. [An allusion to the coming of the Son to the world as Man.]
“May the faith and devotion of Mary, the Mother of God and the Mother of the Filipino nation, inspire us to receive in our hearts and home God’s surpassing Aguinaldo [Filipino for gift] in the person of Jesus Christ. [He is the greatest gift.] Let us keep her company through prayer and good works, so that she may also keep us company as we journey toward the fulfillment of God’s promise of peace in our nation and in the world,” the cardinal further said. (CBCPNews)
Will other bishops of the metro do the same thing?
Usually, they follow the liturgical directive of the Archdiocese of Manila, but it is something for us to wait and see.
In the meantime, a HUGE THANK YOU to His Eminence for this wonderful directive!
We need to bring back the sense of the sacred into the celebration of the Mass.
Gone were the days when we hear church bells peal for the Angelus and folks in the streets would stop dead in their tracks to pray.
We hope that this lukewarm attitude to this beloved prayer does not befall the Mass.
And I sincerely hope that this directive is followed suit in all dioceses all around the country.
And that all Sunday Masses in malls be done within a consecrated chapel.
Proper things in the proper place and in the proper time.
Old wine in old wine skin. New wine in new skins.