I don’t remember anymore when I last attended Simbang Gabi, a nine-day early morning mass in preparation for Christmas. It starts on the early morning (usually at 4am) of 16th December and ends on the eve of Christmas (Misa De Gallo), 24th December before the traditional Noche Buena.
Many believed when one is able to complete all nine masses, he/she can make a wish and that will surely be granted. So when I was in my early teens, peer pressure and this promise of a 'wish come true' enabled me to wake up at ungodly hours in the morning and attend the mass. With eyes half-closed, we'd walk from our house to Lourdes Church, about 5 blocks away. I couldn't even remember what transpired during the whole celebration nor what the Gospel said - needless to say, I, my friends and cousins were all busy chitchatting the hour away. All we wanted was to complete the 9 mornings for our fervent Christmas wish to be granted.
Strangely, when I look back today, I have no idea anymore of the wishes I've asked and if anyone of them were ever granted. I think there was nothing material back then that I wanted so badly, else, I surely must remember it now. Was it a boy that I like? NO, I don't think so. No guy was ever worth disturbing my precious sleep for when I was 15...
Anyway, my retrospection made me realize how some people do things without even knowing why they are doing it. It made me wonder how many of those who went to church this morning really wanted to hear mass while everyone snores. My guess, maybe only half, and I am already being optimistic. Most of the time, it's the youth (teens) who does the ritual with eagerness. And sadly, we see them in pairs and use Simbang Gabi as an opportune time to date.
Simbang Gabi is a Filipino Christmas tradition that I hope will be passed on to the many generations ahead. But I wish the purpose and meaning of this practice is understood and embraced by everyone who choose to make the morning sacrifice for nine straight days.
I wish my wish will come true without me going to Simbang Gabi.