EVER since I can remember, my wife and I have been going to the Simbang Gabi. I do not know how that practice started. We had been going to Mass even before we got married. That was four years and if you add the 34 years we have been married today, that would be 38 years of dawn Masses. Strictly speaking, it is 37 because there was a year we skipped.
Why do it? I cannot answer for her but my answer is I do not know. I just do it, it is as if Christmas would not be complete without it. I cannot really say it is a preparation because honestly I do not feel prepared for Christmas at all. Go to mass to ask for something? In all these years I have never asked for anything from attending the dawn masses. I actually think it defeats the entire purpose of it. Just because I sacrifice for it does not follow that I must demand something from it.
There is something peaceful about dawn masses, something so hopeful about waking and embracing the first traces of sunlight. (In “normal” days I wake up at eight. I hate walking early.) But it is an entirely different thing when it comes to the dawn masses. For some reason I am energized and I look forward to it.
Nowadays though it is a little difficult. It must be the age thing. As I grow older, the urge to stay in bed becomes stronger. This hits me during the middle part of the nine days. The sixth or seventh come to mind. Years ago I remember waking up amidst heavy rain and was I tempted. But I stood up and with my umbrella, stood in the pouring rain.
As of this writing, fear not rain was the culprit. The bombings in Cotabato just happened and my paranoia kicked in. But I shrugged it and went on the eighth day.
I have to say I learn a lot from the dawn masses maybe because it is quiet. This year the priest said that Zechariah was silenced because he had to be silenced. When the priest said that I was jolted from the half asleep state. That was something I had never considered. I guess silence is needed for us to hear and listen.
This year I made a photo history of the nine days. And the added twist was I had to make words rhyme like Day One is done.
I am sluggish throughout the nine days but I am happy. I guess that is how you prepare for Christmas, with a happy heart.