Catholics troop to Oro churches on ‘Simbang Gabi’

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

YOU know it’s almost Christmas when pretty lights dazzle starting at 6 a.m.

You know the holidays are fast approaching when you experience extreme traffic even on off peak hours.

And you know it’s only a few days more when you start seeing people go to church as early as 4 a.m.

The first day of this year’s nine-day novena masses or the “Misa de Gallo” was celebrated by Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma at St. Augustine Cathedral on December 16, 2013.

Misa de Gallo at St Augustine Cathedral, Cagayan de Oro
CAGAYAN DE ORO. St. Augustine Cathedral opens its doors for this year’s Misa de Gallo on December 16, the first day of the nine-day novena masses. (Lenesse Marie P. Libres)

People filled the church and the pews where occupied long before the mass started.

While it rained a few hours after midnight, it did little to lessen the crowd.

In the middle of the mass, dozy heads looked up the Parish Youth Coordinating Council (PYCC) and the Christian Family and Life Apostolate (CFLA) performed a play on “Mary’s call on her youthful age” which featured the characteristics of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the “Mary” of today. The play pointed out the norms of which our society abides by without realizing what’s right and wrong. After the play, PYCC and CFLA sang a song for the mass goers.

When asked what they can say about the Misa de Gallo, Mara and Gemwel said that it is one way of preparing everyone for the coming of the Child Christ.

“For me, of all the nine nights, I find the first most memorable” said Benjie, a PYCC member.

“I hope that the people of Cagayan de Oro have recovered from Typhoon Sendong two years ago, but we should be more wary of the needs of our brothers and sisters who are victims of Yolanda. We should also continue our help sa ila… In this Yuletide season, we must remember that that is the true spirit of Christmas,” Archbishop Ledesma said as he shared his greetings to the Filipino people in this Yuletide season.

After the mass, different Filipino delicacies such as pandesal – breakfast rolls, puto bumbong – purple colored rice recipe with grated coconut and brown sugar, bibingka – flour plus eggs made into cakes, and many other Pinoy food paired with ‘sikwate’ or ‘tsokolate’ in Tagalog – a hot chocolate drink can be found sold outside the church. They are a favorite take home of loyal Simbang Gabi goers.

The vendors are given until 7 a.m. to sell the "kakanin."

The city police provided security for the mass goers.

Xavier University (XU) Immaculate Concepcion chapel was also filled with mass goers. Fr. Jonjie Sumpaico, principal of XU high school, challenged the faithful to ask what particular grace they should reflect on as they fulfill the nine-day novena.

If Disneyland is the happiest place on Earth, then Christmas has to be the happiest time of the year.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 17, 2013.

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