By Chooli Julia Nuyana
Bright lights illuminated the majestic Antipolo Cathedral as devotees from different provinces attended the first of the nine evening masses in anticipation of Christmas and to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary last December 15, 2017.
The cathedral enshrines the image of the Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Immaculate Conception. It is a common belief that anyone who completes the nine-day series of the Novena Masses is granted any prayer or wish.
The mass started at 8 p.m.with a reading from the Book of John. This was followed by the homily by Rev. Fr. Ral Jaden Paguergan who spoke about the significance of Simbang Gabi and the kind of motivation devotees need to have for attending.
“Mas maganda pong tama ang ating motibo at disposisyon. Bakit nga ba tayo nagsisimbang gabi? Simulan natin ito sa pagsasakripisyo. Ang motibo natin ay ang antayin ang liwanag na si Hesus kalakip ang ating pagsasakripisyo bilang pagaabang sa kanya. Sakripisyo,” he said.
Rev. Fr. Paguergan stressed that the right mindset one needs to have when attending mass is to not only think about one’s wishes to be granted, but to possess the heart of sincere prayer and devotion to the Blessed Mary.
“Inang Maria, turuan niyo po kami na huwag lang humiling at humingi. Hindi po masama ang humiling sa Diyos pero hindi iyon ang disposisyon natin kung bakit tayo naririto,” he said.
Rev. Fr. Julius Elden Nuique added that the right motivation in attending the Novena Masses is to imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary’s love for God.
“This is a nine-day Devotion in honor of her unique role in salvation history. I look forward to simply completing it, because that itself is a great sacrifice and takes great discipline,” he said.
Sister Eugenia Pedragoza, she expressed the importance of the parents’ role in educating their children on the real meaning of Simbang Gabi and Christmas.
“Maging excited tayo sa Simbang Gabi kasi inaantay natin ang Kapaskuhan dahil ito ang birthday ng ating Papa Jesus na siyang nagbigay liwanag at kaligtasan ng sangkatauhan. Ang mga kabataan kasi ngayon na hindi nahubog ng kanilang mga magulang sa tunay na kahalagahan ng Pasko ay nagiging dry,” she said.
Corazon Florido of Barangay San Jose.said her entire family has made it a tradition to annually complete the Simbang Gabi.
“Dapat sa pamilya talaga nagsisimula yung pagtataguyod ng ganitong tradisyon (Simbang Gabi). Hanggang sa mga apo ko, inuumpisahan namin ang pagtuturo ng pagdadasal, pagpapakilala kay Jesus, pagpapakilala sa Diyos. Kailangan talaga yun,” said Florido.
A group of teenagers confessed to attending the mass because they had wishes they wanted granted.
“Nagsisimba po kami para po matupad ang mga wish namin, at humingi ng kapatawaran. Sana marami pong blessings next year. Balak po talaga naming tapusin ang buong nine days ng Simbang Gabi,” said one teenager.
Traditions like the Simbang Gabi prove that the spirit of the Lenten Season is beyond lavish décor and festivities, but lies in the devotion and gratitude to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ.