Simbang Gabi 2017: And So It Ends… and Begins

by Melanie on December 24, 2017

in Catholicism, Friendship, Going 60 MPH, Memoir, Music, Nonfiction, Simbang Gabi, Spirituality

What to say about 2017 Simbang Gabi at the neighborhood parish?

Litong, Jandi, and Rachel

  • That we may have had the biggest crowds ever? Yes.
  • That we had nine days of thoughtful, soul-stirring homilies? Yes.
  • That we had nine days of great food, traditional Filipino and otherwise coordinated by the gentle, always organized Rachel? Yes.
  • That we sang a lot of marvelous music, a good share of it written and performed by Jandi Arboleda, and that every time we sang his “Anima Christi,” I assumed he picked it because he knows I love it and it always makes me cry? Yes.

Venerating the Baby Jesus (doll)

But like every other year, it’s the small things I’ll remember: my friend Litong’s daily “Yee-haw!” at the end of our closing song, “Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit (Christmas Is Coming).” The altar server having a new, grown-up ‘do. The community not missing a beat when the novena reader got confused, and forging ahead as one. Eating Filipino-prepared squid and sardines for the first time, and being so disappointed they were gone when I went back for a second helping. The prayers for friends who have died and the hope of seeing them again in heaven. Waiting patiently in line as nearly everyone in the packed sanctuary venerated the baby Jesus.

The Gospel reading today was the Annunciation, Mary’s yes to the Lord. Our celebrant, Father Ramel Portula,

Santa does Simbang Gabi!

spoke of our lives being perpetual annunciations, opportunities to say yes to God. He reminded us of the humanity of Jesus’ genealogy–not saints but humans with flaws and problems and quirks, but all with faith. “We have a God who reigns not from a throne but from the cross,” Father Mel said.

After Mass, there was plenty of food, plenty of conversation, and plenty of gifts for Santa to give out when he made his appearance. As I made my way to my car just before sunrise, the parol was still lit. I will miss it until we get to do it all over again starting December 16, 2018.


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