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Noche Buena

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas brings families together, with Jesus at the center, to celebrate love, share joyful moments, giving gifts, and strengthening relationships. Tonight, at the stroke of midnight, after their members have attended the Simbang Gabi (Christmas Eve Mass) and paid homage to the image of the Infant Jesus in the Church’s Belen, Filipino families will come together to partake of their traditional “Noche Buena” dinner.
The Noche Buena is a beautiful tradition that has been passed on to us through many generations by our foreparents. Many liken the Noche Buena to the Western celebration of Thanksgiving Day when all the family members, and even the entire clan, gather for dinner.
In olden times, the typical Noche Buena table featured queso de bola, hot chocolate, chicken galantina, acharra, and leche flan. As centuries passed and with other foreign influences, the Filipino Noche Buena table has evolved to include the Christmas ham, pansit, fruit cakes, and wine. Today’s Noche Buena treats also include our very own puto bumbong (steamed glutinous rice cooked in bamboo shoots, flavored with brown sugar and grated coconut), bibingka, suman, and salabat (native tea). In some homes, the Noche Buena table centerpiece is our native lechon.
But beyond sharing a common meal together among family members. Noche Buena is a celebration of the joyful moment of the coming of Jesus in our midst. It is a commemoration of that “Good Night” when the Blessed Mother gave birth to God’s only begotten Son who was destined to reestablish our relationship with God after we had been separated from Him by sin. It is the celebration of God’s love for humanity: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will have life eternal (John 3:16).
As we prepare for tonight’s Noche Buena, let us make space for Joseph, Mary and Jesus in our hearts and in our lives, that we may emulate their simplicity, their devotion to each other, their sincerity in serving others, and their profound and abiding faith in God’s goodness and compassion. Let us be willing messengers of the hope by making those who have less in life experience the joy and love that the Christmas season brings.


Brain Teaser

Monday, December 19, 2011

ook at the red dot in the middle and move your head towards and away from the screen. See how the outer rings appear to rotate?


'Simbang Gabi': A cherished Christmas tradition

Friday, December 16, 2011

Church bells will ring at dawn starting Friday until Christmas Day, calling the Catholic faithful to the “Simbang Gabi,” the nine-day dawn masses held in honor of the Virgin Mary.
The pealing of the bells is said to symbolize a message of hope in God and of hope for peace on earth.
The votive masses are held not only in the Philippines but in other countries where there are Filipino communities.
For years now, some parishes have also been holding anticipated “Simbang Gabi” masses at around 8 or 9 in the evening before the dawn masses to accommodate the needs of the faithful on different work schedules.
The masses end on Dec. 24, Christmas Eve, with the “Misa de Gallo” (rooster’s mass) at midnight.
According to Fr. Noel V. Osial, SDB, rector of the Don Bosco Provincial House in Makati City, Filipinos particularly cherish the “Simbang Gabi” tradition. “We find it not only on Philippine soil but everywhere in the world where there are Filipino Catholics who anticipate every year the nine days of preparation for the Birth of Jesus Christ,” Osial said.
For the members of the clergy, “Simbang Gabi” is always an opportunity for catechizing the faithful, Osial said.
“But whether the masses are celebrated early in the morning or at night, whether in the Philippines or elsewhere in the world, the reason for celebrating remains the same – we prepare for the Birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.”
In attending the “Misa de Aguinaldo” (gift mass), churchgoers offer the gift of sacrifice of waking up before the break of dawn for nine consecutive days to attend the dawn masses in thanksgiving, as a form of worship, or for a standing petition, said a Church official.
Not a few believe that completing the nine-day masses would mean the granting of a particular favor.
The Filipinos’ Simbang Gabi dates back to 1565, when Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi celebrated the first Feast of the Nativity.
The practice originated in Mexico when in 1587, Fray Diego de Soria, prior of the Convent of San Agustin Acolman, asked permission from the Pope to hold Christmas masses for the farmers who wake up very early to work.
During the 16th century, Pope Sixtus V decreed that the dawn masses be held in the Philippines every 16th of December.
After the mass, there is another old custom: the partaking of native delicacies sold in stalls outside the church like rice cakes (bibingka), puto bungbong, and suman taken with ginger tea (salabat), coffee or hot chocolate.
To preserve the solemnity of Simbang Gabi, the Catholic Archdiocese of Manila (RCAM) released a circular last October 12 signed by Archbishop Emeritus Gaudencio B. Cardinal Rosales, reiterating the implementation within the archdiocese of the guidelines issued the previous year.


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