Two church servers share their 9-day dawn mass’ journey
It’s that time of year when Filipino Catholics are gearing up to start the nine-day dawn masses, believing, hoping, and praying that God will grant their wish. But will completing the nine-day dawn or anticipated masses really grant our wishes?
Two church servers share their Simbang Gabi wishes and journey. What they wish for? Was it granted or not? And learnings from it.
WISH: Good health for the family
Anthony “Bong” Buenaflor has been a parish server for almost three decades. Countless times, he served in dawn masses, but he admitted that never got the chance to complete it.
“I will miss one to two novena masses because of work-related schedule. I think it was only in 2018 and 2019 that I have completed Simbang Gabi,” Bong says.
Every novena mass, Bong would pray for the wellness of his family, the studies of his children, his and wife’s personal health, and just like in The Lord’s Prayer, he always leave what’s best for him and his family to the will of the Lord.
“I never doubted the grace of the Lord and I would like to think my prayers and wishes are always granted. Many times I have been sick seriously and yet here I am still serving the Lord. My daughters Shannen and Bea are doing well in their studies. My wife and I still have our jobs as educators and Francis, our only boy, is having a happy childhood. I’m not asking much from the Lord. I only want a piece of daily bread for a happy and decent living,” says Bong.
Bong revealed that there may be some times when the Lord would not grant his petitions for some of his family members. Most recently, the death of his brother Carlo. But Bong believes he’s not worthy to question the Creator who knows better than all the universe combined.
“The lesson I have learned from completing Simbang Gabi is that we must give back to the graciousness and fidelity of the Lord in our lives. Simbang Gabi is a test of patience and perseverance just as God is patient, loving and all giving towards us. We must find the meaning of Christmas through the eyes of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” says Bong.
As always, Bong has plans to complete Simbang Gabi because he is heading the Music Ministry. He just hopes that unplanned and work-related activities won’t get in the way.
“As usual, my intentions for this coming Aguinaldo mass belong to my family, relatives, and friends. I would like to add a special wish to the Lord to protect me from sickness in the coming year and give an end to this pandemic,” he concludes.
WISH: Another child
Lorena Palencia-Marasigan completed Simbang Gabi in 2019. That time, she had several wishes, varying daily, but mostly about her health and her family’s.
“I ceased to wish for a baby sister for our son,” Lorena admits. “Up to now, I’m still diabetic but controlled. My family is healthy. Still, no baby sister for Mac (her only son). But I’m not disappointed. I believe, God has His own plan. I will just keep on wishing and praying.”
In fact, Lorena’s faith has intensified. “I learned that determination to finish something is really important. We attended the evening (anticipated) masses, which is more realistic for me than the early morning (dawn) masses,” says Lorena, who is also serving as a member of the parish’s Lectors and Commentators’ Ministry.
On plans to complete Simbang Gabi this year. “Yes. We always try to complete the Simbang Gabi, especially when our daddy [husband] is here for Christmas. This time, my wish is for my son to finish school with flying colors. And good health again for the family. I have another wish… a clean and honest election,” says Lorena.
In an article published in 2016, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo reminded the faithful that “completing nine-day Simbang Gabi or dawn masses leading to Christmas Day is not like a genie in a bottle that will grant wishes.”
“The purpose of the novena is to commemorate the birth of Jesus and Christ and spiritually prepare Catholics for the celebration of Christmas Day. Completing the nine days of Simbang Gabi is not for their wishes to be granted. That is a wrong belief. These should be explained in masses in order to correct the people’s thinking,” he said.