Church opens doors for ‘Simbang Gabi,’ ‘Misa de Gallo’ | Inquirer News

Church opens doors for ‘Simbang Gabi,’ ‘Misa de Gallo’

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Catholic churches all over the country are opening their doors for the “Simbang Gabi” (anticipated Masses) and “Misa de Gallo” (dawn Masses) leading to Christmas Day, starting at sundown on Tuesday. The Masses will also be livestreamed on Facebook and other social media sites for churchgoers who choose to stay in their homes amid the health crisis and strict government rules on physical social distancing and crowd gatherings.

Regulations by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) will be strictly implemented in churches, said Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) public affairs committee.

Misa de Gallo, which means “Mass of the Rooster,” was a tradition introduced by Spanish friars in the 17th century to agricultural communities so that farmers could attend Mass before heading off to the fields early in the morning.


Filipinos usually associate the experience with cold mornings, snacks of hot chocolate and “puto” (rice cakes) after Mass, as well as spiritual favors for those who complete the nine dawn Masses with special intentions.


Mass schedules

The Simbang Gabi will be held from Tuesday to Dec. 23 to accommodate the throngs of people who usually attend the nine-day series of Masses. The Misa de Gallo will start on Wednesday and end on Dec. 24, Christmas Eve.

Schedule of Masses differs from parish to parish, according to Secillano.


Some churches may hold the anticipated Mass while others may not, he added.

Dawn Masses usually start at 4 a.m. but some parishes may schedule these at 3 a.m.

At Quiapo Church or the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Manila, Masses will be held at 6 p.m., 7 p.m., 8 p.m., 4 a.m., 5 a.m. and 6 a.m., said its vicar, Fr. Douglas Badong.

To accommodate those who may not be able to enter Quiapo Church, the city government will sponsor an 8 p.m. Mass at Liwasang Bonifacio.

Manila Cathedral will hold Masses at 8 p.m. and 4:30 a.m., and a Christmas Eve Mass at 8 p.m. Christmas Day Masses are scheduled for 8 a.m., 11 a.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Churchgoers will be asked to write down their contact details (names, addresses and cellular phone numbers) on a piece of paper and drop this off in a box outside the church entrance for contact tracing purposes in case of a COVID-19 transmission.

In Cebu City, 167 police personnel will be deployed in 35 churches to ensure that the public will observe minimum health standards, said Police Col. Josefino Ligan, city police director.

He reminded churchgoers that minors below 15 years old and senior citizens above 65 years old would not be allowed entry since they are most vulnerable to COVID-19.

“They will be asked to show an identification card to prove they are not under 15 years old or above 65 years old,” Ligan said.

Aside from securing churches, he said policemen would be on patrol to look out for burglars and to check bus terminals and the port area.

Mayor Edgardo Labella has ordered the suspension of the use of quarantine passes during the Simbang Gabi and Misa de Gallo.

“Basically, we only have to continue what we are doing right now. We have to enforce the health protocols (to prevent the spread of the virus),” said Fr. Ric Anthony Reyes of the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu, the most prominent church in Cebu province.

A different celebration

Kissing or touching of images is still prohibited during this time of the pandemic, according to the CBCP. It encouraged families to bring the image of the Infant Jesus during the Masses.

“The celebration of Christmas may be different this year. We will not have the same frenzy and stressful preparations that we had before the pandemic, but we pray and help our faithful to see the heart and the essence of the season in the simple, sober, silent but strong and loving truth of the God who comes to us in Jesus’ incarnation,” said Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, CBCP president.

Valles said the church guidelines and adjustments “are done because of the great number of Mass goers during the Simbang Gabi and the limitations in the number of Mass goers due to the strict social distancing demanded by the IATF.”

Despite the limitations, the CBCP said what should not be lost are the basic components of the celebration: Word of God and Holy Communion.

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To avoid overcrowding in churches, Ligan advised people to follow the Masses online. INQ

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TAGS: churches, COVID-19, Masses, Simbang Gabi

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