Rants and Raves on the first day of Novena

I got home last night and I was all excited for today's simbang gabi. I pondered on what to wear, what time to wake up, etc. I loaded up my bag with clothes for my afternoon jogging session, prepared things needed for tomorrow, etc… I was all anxious, and excited to hear mass ala simbang gabi style. Every year, me and my sis got up every dawn to hear the mass held for nine days til christmas day. It has been like that for about 4 consecutive years now. It has become a devotion.

Just this morning, after barely five hours of rest, I woke at around 02:00AM. I pondered on whether to prepare for a hot bath since the water is extremely cold. Well, the church is only a walking distance from our place, so I passed the bath time until I got back home after the mass. We left the house at around 02:30AM, and walked to the church. It was misty and cold. There were still people outside: some were MWSS workers hurriedly finishing their excavation before commuters arrive, gamers at the internet cafes who have barely slept yet more alive and kicking, drivers trying to steal a nap before the rush hour comes, etc…. But wait! where are all the mass goers???

My heart was pounding! Is it Dec 16 today? Did I miss the calendar? Is it just the fifteenth? What time does the mass start again? Where are all the people???

Rant #1: Ooopss! The church missed the first day of the novena??
My sister and I managed to pass by the cafe, the bakery, and around the church perimeter. Why has the church not opened yet?? It was about 03:00AM already and nobody was opening the church yet, but why? Isn't it that the mass starts at 03:30AM? Hmmm… I have already gone hungry, thirsty and sweaty because of walking and too much wondering.. Why? ..what a nice start.. I should have chosen to bathe.. haha..

Rave #1: People in the front and back gate were all eager to get in
Even though the church was late to open its gates to its devotees, people were still eager to hear mass. I saw pregnant women, young children, teenagers, adults of various careers all waiting to start their day right.. and ah, well, that includes us (my sister and I).

Rant #2: The church shows signs of austerity.
The church is a very humble, yet beautiful abode of worship, as it always was for me. Every year, as I hear mass during the simbang gabi novena, I watch out for improvements of the church.. in appearance, in service, in ambiance, etc.. It is to my dismay that I found that the same decors were used as last year. The kneelers are getting worser in state, the fans were never working, the lights–faulty, etc.

Indeed, the church showed signs of austerity.

Rave #2: The later it gets, the more people came.
As we were waiting for the mass to begin, more people came in. We saw some of our 'streetmates', familiar faces, families going to mass, couples, teenagers, etc… The christmas spirit is not yet dead.

Rant #3: Where were the usual mass goers?
Even as we saw many people come in, we noticed that the usual mass goers were not around. It saddenned me to not see them around. They have always been inspiring to us because they never miss a day in the 9 day novena.

The Mass Itself

Simbang gabi. Ding dong. Ding dong. This is the first thing that Father Reggie said when he started his lecture. Corny, but nonetheless catching.

He lectured on the following:

  1. Pangarap vs Pangako

Though quite true, most of the simbang gabi goers desire to have some wish/dream they have to come true. Father Reggie called it the 'bulong/sumbong'. While the people desire more, they also promise more to GOD. But if we get our wish to come true, will be also be true to our promises? I too am guilty of that sometimes. But as he said this, I thought about it.. I do have something in mind that I want to ask from GOD, but my promise to HIM–to be of service to my loved ones was never broken.

He relayed a short story about a young boy who was missing. His mother went in panic looking for him and asked the help of their priest for prayers. While in the church, praying, they heard a noise outside. They ran quickly only to find that the missing boy was happily playing with a cart where a baby was inside it. This baby was Jesus. The young boy explained that he asked GOD to influence Santa Claus to give him a cart, and promised to take Jesus for a 'joy ride' around the church perimeter.

So, we must also be willing to fulfill our promises to HIM, as HE never fails to fulfill our needs in the best way possible.

  1. Christmas is a festival of lights.

Lights? Festival? But where?

Austerity. Economy. Politics. I'm sure you got the point, but the light I was talking about must come from us. As the Holy Gospel was about John the Baptist, the lesson was to be the light for others. Father said that light is an acronym. L ive In G enerosity, H oliness, and T ruth. Christmas should be a time of giving that comes from the heart. We must also live in the likeness of GOD and be holy. And most important of all was to live in and uphold Truth.

Rave #3: Touching song.
When we all got to the part of the singing of the 'Ama Namin', I went teary eyed. We have always registered ourselves at the best seat during mass. We sit at the leftmost part of the front row of the balcony of the church. This is actually the best view. From where we sat, I could see only the countless heads of the people all singing one song and holding the hands of each other. I cannot begin to give more details, as I may cry as I write this. (I'm a real cry-baby 😭)

Rant #4: Did you fart??
I have always been a serious person during mass. I don't talk while hearing mass, I try my best to sing, and I always reply to 'Amen's, etc.. I was quite involved in the lecture, not minding people around me, not bothering to look at anyone, or to fiddle something, etc. when I smelled something. I hate it when this happens. The girl at my right side (since my sis was at my left), kept on farting for like every three minutes. I swear, I took it with all patience, but darn, I cannot not rant about it! It was so distracting. I did not bath that morning, but sure did brush my teeth, change my clothing, washed my face and made sure I was smelling clean. Thank GOD, after saying 'Peace be with you', I really made 'peace..' sigh.. (coz she left already) hehe..

Rave #4: Tomorrow is another day
Of course, I would not end this writing with a rant. Tomorrow is another day of simbang gabi. As I prayed for my own intentions, I did not forget a prayer for a friend in need. See you again for tomorrow's lecture. Possibly, tomorrow won't be a list of rants and raves.