THE global pandemic has changed the way the Cultural Center of the Philippines celebrated the Simbang Gabi. What used to be a live mass celebration at the CCP Main Theater became a virtual gathering of the Catholic faithfuls.
While the COVID-19 situation upended many traditions that draw large gatherings, it also presented an opportunity to CCP to partner with different parishes all over the country which shared how they celebrate this time-honoured tradition through the dawn masses from December 16 to 24.
It also allows the Filipino people to hear the Christmas Eve Mass from Bicol, one of the provinces affected by typhoons, and the Christmas Day Mass all the way from Rome.
The CCP Simbang Gabi 2020 culminates with the Misa de Aguinaldo from St. Gregory the Great Cathedral Parish (also known as the Albay Cathedral) in Legazpi City, with Most Rev. Joel Z. Baylon, D.D., Bishop of Legazpi, as mass presider, on December 24, 8pm.
The mass will be live-streamed at the CCP Facebook page and YT Channel and will have a live broadcast on CNN Philippines TV channel.
There will be a live pre-mass program at 7:30pm, starting with a rondalla performance of Sarong Banggi. It will be followed by a dance piece “Ang Masarig na Harong (Harong is House),” a rendition of “Oyayi,” a reenactment of the recent calamities in “Dlubyo/Kalamidad,” a pangadyi (prayer) through the “Bangging Banal (Holy Night),” and culminating with a choral performance of “Pasko Na.”
There will also be a short message video of pagbangon at paghilom in “Madaya sa Paskong Maogma (Maogma is Happy).”
“The year is almost as its closing. This is a year which we can call a year of darkness. In March, we experienced a great challenge and test when we were all placed under lockdown. We were kept in our homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we still do not know when it will end and what will happen to us. Not too long, Bicol was devastated by typhoons. Homes were ruined, lives were lost, farms were razed to the ground. But now, there is a light shining upon all of us, and this light is a little child born to us this Christmas,” shared Rev. Joel.
Meanwhile, on a very rare occasion, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle will preside the virtual CCP Christmas Mass on December 25, 2020, 10am. He will officiate the Mass at the Pontificio Collegio Filippino in Rome, Italy.
Inaugurated by Blessed Pope John XXIII in 1961, the Collegio is the “Home in Rome” of Filipino secular diocesan priests who are carefully chosen and formally sent by their respective bishops to pursue further studies in different ecclesiastical centres in Rome.
The priests of the Collegio continue to exercise their ministry with the Filipino diaspora and seek pastoral experiences with the local churches in Italy. To learn more and know how we can help the Collegio and the Filipino priests in Rome, you can visit https://pcfroma.org.
Cardinal Tagle, former Archbishop of Manila and currently Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, was the chairman of the Episcopal Commission on the Pontificio Collegio Filippino for four years.
“It definitely is not the usual Christmas experience with all the grand celebrations and external displays. But perhaps God brings us closer to the original Christmas when Christ was born on a manger in that silent night, with hardly anyone noticing him. Or being unable to hold big activities has allowed us to reach out to our poor brothers and sisters, letting them enjoy Christmas a bit better than before,” said Fr. Gregory Ramon D. Gaston, S.Th.D., the Rector of Pontificio Collegio Filippino.
The special Christmas Day mass will be streamed via the official CCP Facebook page and YouTube Channel. It will also be shown on CNN Philippines Channel.
“We at the Collegio Filippino in Rome wish you and your loved ones a very meaningful Christmas. May our new Christmas experience in the midst of this pandemic bring us closer to Christ and to those in need. May God bless us, our families and our loved ones,” said Fr. Gaston.
As an expression of gratitude, the Center has arranged for small token offerings to the parish communities that participated in this year’s CCP Simbang Gabi. They have been instrumental in bringing the message of hope and love this holiday season in spite of their current limitations and difficulties.
Follow the official CCP Facebook and social media accounts and visit www.culturalcenter.gov.ph to know more about the CCP and its programs. Don’t forget to share your CCP Simbang Gabi experience; use the hashtags #CCPSIMBANGGABI2020 #CCPSIMBANGGABI