We were a bit early...
We are so happy that the Filipino Chaplaincy has scheduled a number of the Simbang Gabi sessions at Johnsonville. We are at least able to attend 3 of the masses (as I still have work at this time and we would not have been able to make it to the mass if it were elsewhere).
Mary and Joseph must still be on their way to Bethlehem
Simbang Gabi (literal translation: Night Mass) is a devotional nine-day series of masses which starts on 16 December and culminates on 24 December, the Misa de Gallo. Simbang Gabi is a popular Christmas custom in the Philippines and is held early in the morning (around 5:00). We usually wax nostalgic when we speak of Simbang Gabi because it is quite a memorable and happy experience. Imagine waking up very early in the morning (that's the hard part!) and walk / drive the streets when the sun is barely up, then we sing favourite songs and carols in the mass, and when we leave the Church, the sun has just risen and we are ready for some hot pan de sal, puto bombong, bibingka, and coffee!
Here in Wellington though, the masses are held at 7:00PM. Which works fine too because the sun is still up at this time of the year (summer!) and daylight is still available an hour after.
Yesterday's mass was memorable for my family because it's been a while since we attended Simbang Gabi. And right after the mass we had a small gathering for nibbles. We cooked mini puto for the occasion (perfect for Simbang Gabi!) which was gone before you could say supercalifragilistic. Yay! Christine was also popular with the crowd, even more popular than the puto.
Many thanks to Fr Michael Brumly (I hope I got the name right!) who officiated the mass and shared with us the story of Johnsonville's Fr Francis Douglas who became a missionary in the Philippines in the 1940s.
Simbang Gabi masses at Sts Peter and Paul in Johnsonville will be held today and tomorrow (21 December) at 7PM, and will move on to other areas. So if you happen to be in the area, it will be great to join the Simbang Gabi as part of our Christmas observance!