Saturday, December 15, 2012


Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartin leads the service

I know nothing of this devotion except that a Mass is celebrated by our Archbishop, Peter Sartin, in the Cathedral of  St. James in Seattle, today Dec. 16th. One of our new Oblates will attend the Mass. We have many people of Philippine descent in our Pacific Northwest. They are some of our most respected and respectful Catholics. 

SIMBANG GABI is a devotional nine-day series of Masses practised by Roman Catholics and Aglipayans in the Philippines in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary in anticipation of Christmas. Simbáng Gabi, which translates to Night Mass, is held from December 16 to December 24 and is usually done as early as 4 or 5 o' clock in the morning. On the last day of the Simbang Gabi, which is Christmas Eve, it is called Misa de Gallo, which literally translates to "Rooster's Mass".

St. James Cathedral, Seattle
In the early days of colonization when the Christmas season would begin it was customary to hold novenas in the evenings. The priests saw that the people despite fatigue wanted to attend. As a compromise, the clergy began to hold Mass in the early dawn when the land would still be dark before the natives went out to toil in the fields again. The custom spread and it evolved into a distinctly Philippine tradition to attend Mass at a rather early time. This cherished Christmas custom eventually became a distinct feature of Philippine culture and is a symbol of sharing.

During the Spanish and early American periods the parishioners would mostly have nothing to offer at the Mass except sacks of rice, fruits and vegetables and fresh eggs. These were graciously accepted by the priests, who besides keeping a portion for themselves, would share the produce with the rest of the parishioners after the service.

The rice-based foods were traditionally served to fill the stomachs of the farmers and since rice is a cheap and primary staple. The pastries were full of carbohydrates needed for the back-breaking forced work in the rice paddies and azucareras that the natives suffered under the colonisers.

Even today, local delicacies are readily available in the church's premises for the parishioners.

St. James Cathedral

St. James Cathedral

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