Filipino tradition has deep roots

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

1/17/19

Filipino Catholics participated in a novena of Masses as a form of spiritual preparation in the nine days leading up to Christmas.

This tradition was introduced to the Philippines by Spanish friars to allow the farmers to hear Mass before going to the fields early in the morning. Simbang Gabi is also known by its popular Spanish name as the Misa de Gallo, or “Mass of the Rooster,” commonly indicating the pre-dawn Christmas Eve Mass.  The novena serves as spiritual preparation for Christmas, in commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. The celebration is also seen as a way of requesting blessings from the Lord, as most people believe that if one completes the whole series of nine dawn Masses, wishes will be granted.

The complete novena was held at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Port Charlotte, with the opening Mass celebrated by Pastor Father Teofila Useche and Father Kristian Villafana, Parochial Vicar of St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs. Celebrated in Tagalog, the language known by most Filipinos, Masses were also celebrated on one day of the novena period at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota (Dec. 16), St. Andrew Parish in Cape Coral (Dec. 16), and at St. Leo the Great Parish (Dec. 21).

Although this tradition is not exclusive to Filipinos, its observance is very much highlighted and distinctive of the Philippine Catholic culture.

Father Villafana explained that the Vatican allows the Simbang Gabi Masses to differ from the traditional Advent Season readings and requirements. This exception allows the readings to be directly associated with the Christmas Season and the Church is also decorated while the priests wear white vestments.

“Time changes during this celebration of the Holy Mass,” Father said. “It is no longer the same moment of Advent that you celebrate during the day, everything is Simbang Gabi, but when the sun rises it returns to the Advent Season. It is because we are living that magical moment that is before the sun rises.”

This is an important and growing Catholic tradition as the faithful prepare their hearts waiting for that dawn when the sun rises, Father Villafana added. The sun rise is associated with Jesus Christ, bringing with it new hope, new life.

“We are living that moment in joyful and hopeful anticipation,” Father continued.

Father Villafana added that it is believed that participating in the novena of Masses brings many blessings. Some believe that if you attended the Simbang Gabi you would find your future spouse, which naturally increased the popularity of the tradition.

The best prayer is about family,” Father concluded. That God would take care of our family and help us remain united in that great love that the Lord has given us in the form of a child born on Christmas Day. That child shows us the value of sacrifice and the value of true love in our life.”

Following the daily Masses, a reception is held serving traditional Filipino delicacies including rice cakes, pastries, coffee and breakfast rolls.

Christmas brings light into the darkness

By Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

1/17/19

The Word brought Light into the darkness – Christmas brings the Light of Christ into the world, providing comfort and courage.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the Midnight Mass at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice where the Gospel of Luke (2: 1-14), speaks in recognition of Christ and the birth of Our Savior that is still celebrated in the Church more than 2,000 years later.

The Gospel is broken into two important parts, Bishop Dewane explained. The first part sets the time and place when the birth took place, namely in Bethlehem at the time of the census called for by Caesar Augustus.

“This is not just some event that happened at some vague time that is debated,” the Bishop added. The Birth of Christ happened and can be recorded to that specific place and time. This is an historical event!”

A Living Nativity at St. Agnes Parish in Naples on Dec. 16.

This is stressed here as well as in the other Gospels related to the Birth of Christ so as to establish the voracity of the event; so there is no debate or confusion when the story is retold.

The second part of the Gospel is about the shepherds who were given a call to be witnesses to the Birth of Jesus Christ. From them we learn about the simplicity of Jesus being born in the manger to Mary and Joseph and why there was no room at the inn.

“The shepherds are told, ‘do not be afraid,’” Bishop Dewane said. “This message is for all of us. As the shepherds were called to proclaim the Good News of the Lord, so too are we called to take that message into our heart. Let this message provide comfort and courage as we move forward this Christmas Season.”

Students at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice play the violin during a Christmas Pageant on Dec. 17.

The Bishop also celebrated the Christmas Televised Mass for the Homebound from Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch, and asked everyone to prayer during the Christmas Season for the homebound and those who are alone or might be incarcerated.

Throughout the Diocese of Venice, the Christmas Season was celebrated in a variety of ways. Parishes had Angel Trees from which parishioners could buy gifts for those in need in the community and for Catholic Charities programs. Several Parishes also had a Living Nativity, complete with live animals. The largest of these was a St. Agnes Parish in Naples and included a town laid out in the Parish Hall parking lot and actors portraying key figures in the Nativity Story.

Kindergarteners at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton sing carols Dec. 13 for residents at a nearby senior living facility.

Catholic Schools throughout the Diocese contributed huge numbers of gifts to other children in the region. In addition, many held holiday pageants and concerts with nativity plays a common theme. Children also made gingerbread houses, caroled at nursing homes and others brought holiday cheer to those with disabilities.

Parish/Mission Christmas Mass times

The following are a complete listing of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Mass times for all Parishes/Missions within the Diocese of Venice. Time are listed by the city in which the Parish/Mission is located.

ARCADIA

■ St. Paul, 1208 E. Oak St., 863-494-2611

CHRISTMAS EVE  5:30 p.m., midnight (Spanish)

CHRISTMAS DAY  9 a.m., 11 a.m. (Spanish)

AVE MARIA

■ Ave Maria,  5068 Annunciation Circle, Ste. 101,  www.avemariaparish.org, 239-261-5555

CHRISTMAS EVE  5 p.m., midnight

CHRISTMAS DAY  10 a.m., 12:30 p.m.

AVON PARK

■ Our Lady of Grace, 595 E. Main St., www.ologap.org, 863-453-4757

CHRISTMAS EVE  4 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 7 p.m. (Spanish)

CHRISTMAS DAY 8 a.m., 10:30 a.m.

BOCA GRANDE

■ Our Lady of Mercy, 240 Park Ave., 941-964-2254

CHRISTMAS EVE  5 p.m., 10 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  9 a.m., 10:30 a.m.

BOKEELIA

■ Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal,  12175 Stringfellow Road, www.miraculousmedalch.org, 239-283-0456

CHRISTMAS EVE  3 p.m., 6 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m.

BONITA SPRINGS

■ St. Leo the Great, 28290 Beaumont Road,  www.stleocatholicchurch.org, 239-992-0901

CHRISTMAS EVE  3:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 9 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 5 p.m. (Spanish)

BRADENTON

■ Sacred Heart, 1220 15th St. W.,  mysacredheart.com, 941-748-2221

CHRISTMAS EVE  4 p.m., 7 p.m. (Spanish), 10:30 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  9 a.m., 11 a.m. (Spanish)

■ Ss. Peter and Paul, 2850 75th St. W., www.sspeterandpaul.org, 941-795-1228

CHRISTMAS EVE  4:30 p.m., 7 p.m., 10 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m.

■ St. Joseph, 3100 26th St. W., www.sjcfl.org, 941-756-3732

CHRISTMAS EVE  4 p.m., 7 p.m., 10:30 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  9 a.m., 11 a.m.

BUCKHEAD RIDGE

■ St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, 1027 Chobee Loop, 863-946-0696

CHRISTMAS EVE 4 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY 10 a.m.

CAPE CORAL

■ St. Andrew, 2628 Del Prado Blvd. S., www.standrewrcc.org, 239-574-4545

CHRISTMAS EVE  4 p.m., 4:15 p.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m. (Spanish), 11 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. (Spanish)

■ St. Katharine Drexel, 1922 S.W. 20th Ave., saintkatharinedrexelparish.org, 239-283-9501

CHRISTMAS EVE  4 p.m., 6 p.m., midnight

CHRISTMAS DAY  8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m.

CLEWISTON

■ Santa Rosa de Lima, 835 N. Mayoral St., Montura Ranch Estates, 863-983-8585

CHRISTMAS EVE  7 p.m. (Spanish)

CHRISTMAS DAY  8 a.m. (Spanish)

■ St. Margaret, 208 N. Deane Duff Ave., 863-983-8585

CHRISTMAS EVE  8:30 p.m. (Spanish), 10:30 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  10 a.m., noon (Spanish)

ENGLEWOOD

■ St. Raphael, 770 Kilbourne Ave., www.StRaphEng.org, 941-474-9595

CHRISTMAS EVE  4 p.m., 10:30 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m.

EVERGLADES CITY

■ Holy Family, 200 Datura Ave., 239-394-5181

CHRISTMAS DAY  10:30 a.m.

FORT MYERS

■ Jesus the Worker, 881 Nuna Ave., www.jesustheworker.org, 239-693-5333

(All MASSES IN SPANISH)

CHRISTMAS EVE  7 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  noon

■ Our Lady of Light, 19680 Cypress View Drive, www.ourladyoflight.com, 239-267-7088

CHRISTMAS EVE  4 p.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m.

■ Resurrection of Our Lord, 8121 Cypress Lake Drive, www.ResurrectionCh.org, 239-481-7172

CHRISTMAS EVE  4 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 10 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 1:15 p.m. (Latin)

■ San Jose,  10750 Gladiolus Drive, 239-639-5333

(All MASSES IN SPANISH)

CHRISTMAS EVE  7 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  Noon

■ St. Cecilia, 5632 Sunrise Drive, www.saintcecilias.org, 239-936-3635

CHRISTMAS EVE  4 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 9 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  9 a.m., 11 a.m.

■ St. Columbkille, 12171 Iona Road, www.stcolumbkille.com, 239-489-3973

CHRISTMAS EVE  3 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 10 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  7 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 5:30 p.m.

■ St. Francis Xavier, 2157 Cleveland Ave., www.stfrancisfm.org, 239-334-2161

CHRISTMAS EVE  4 p.m., 10 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  6:45 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 2 p.m. (Polish), 4 p.m. (Haitian)

■ St. John XXIII, 13060 Palomino Lane, www.johnxxiii.net, 239-561-2245

CHRISTMAS EVE  4 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 9 p.m., 11 p.m. (Vietnamese)

CHRISTMAS DAY  7:15 a.m., 9:15 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 1:30 p.m. (Spanish)

■ St. Vincent de Paul, 13031 Palm Beach Blvd., www.stvincentfortmyers.org, 239-693-0818

CHRISTMAS EVE  7 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  9 a.m., 11 a.m.

FORT MYERS BEACH

■ Ascension, 6025 Estero Blvd., 239-463-6754

CHRISTMAS EVE  7 p.m., 9 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  8 a.m., 10 a.m.

GROVE CITY

■ St. Francis of Assisi, 5265 Placida Road, www.sfoachurch.com, 941-697-4899

CHRISTMAS EVE  4 p.m., 8 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  8 a.m., 10 a.m.

HOLMES BEACH

■ St. Bernard, 248 S. Harbor Drive, www.stbernardcc.com, 941-778-4769

CHRISTMAS EVE  4 p.m., 10 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m.

IMMOKALEE

■ Our Lady of Guadalupe, 219 S. 9th St., 239-657-2666

CHRISTMAS EVE  7 p.m. (Spanish), 10 p.m. (Creole)

CHRISTMAS DAY  9 a.m., 10:15 a.m. (Spanish), 12:15 p.m. (Spanish), 3 p.m. (Creole),
7 p.m. (Spanish)

LABELLE

■ Holy Martyrs, 4290 Crescent Ave. S.W., 863-675-0030

CHRISTMAS DAY  Noon (Spanish)

■ Our Lady Queen of Heaven, 355 S. Bridge St., 863-675-0030

CHRISTMAS EVE  5 p.m., 7:30 p.m. (Spanish)

CHRISTMAS DAY  9 a.m., noon (Spanish)

LAKE PLACID

■ St. James, 3380 Placid View Drive,  863-465-3215

CHRISTMAS EVE  5:30 p.m., 10 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  8 a.m., 10 a.m.

■ Santiago Apostol Mission, 685 County Road 621 E., 863-385-0049

CHRISTMAS EVE  10 p.m. (Spanish)

CHRISTMAS DAY  10 a.m. (Spanish)

LAKEWOOD RANCH

■ Our Lady of the Angels, 12905 State Road 70 E., www.olangelscc.org, 941-752-6770

CHRISTMAS EVE  4 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  9 a.m., 11 a.m.

LEHIGH ACRES

■ St. Raphael, 2514 Lee Blvd., 239-369-1831

CHRISTMAS EVE  5 p.m., 10 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  8 a.m., 10 a.m., noon, 4 p.m. (Spanish)

LONGBOAT KEY

■ St. Mary, Star of the Sea, 4280 Gulf of Mexico Drive, www.stmarylbk.org, 941-383-1255

CHRISTMAS EVE  4 p.m., 9 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m.

MARCO ISLAND

■ San Marco, 851 San Marco Road, www.sanmarcochurch.com, 239-394-5181

CHRISTMAS EVE  3:45 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 10 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 10:45 a.m.

MOORE HAVEN

■ St. Joseph the Worker, 1800 N. U.S. Highway 27, 863-946-0696

CHRISTMAS EVE  7:30 p.m. (Spanish)

CHRISTMAS DAY  8 a.m.

NAPLES

■ Corpus Christi, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, www.corpuschristifssp.com, 402-659-5531

(All MASSES IN LATIN)

CHRISTMAS EVE midnight

CHRISTMAS DAY 8:45 a.m., 10:30 a.m.

■ St. Agnes, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, www.stagnesnaples.org, 239-592-1949

CHRISTMAS EVE  4 p.m., 5 p.m. (Corkscrew Muddle School), 7 p.m., midnight

CHRISTMAS DAY  7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. (Spanish), 5 p.m.

■ St. Ann, 985 Third St. S., www.naplesstann.com, 239-262-4256

CHRISTMAS EVE  4 p.m., 7 p.m., 10 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  9 a.m., 11 a.m.

■ St. Elizabeth Seton, 5225 Golden Gate Parkway, www.saintelizabethseton.org, 239-455-3900

CHRISTMAS EVE  4:30 p.m., midnight (bilingual)

CHRISTMAS DAY  9 a.m., 11 a.m.

■ St. Finbarr, 13520 Tamiami Trail E., www.stfinbarr.org, 239-417-2084

CHRISTMAS EVE  4:30 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  8 a.m. (Spanish), 10 a.m.

■ St. John the Evangelist, 625 111th Ave. N., www.saintjohntheevangelist.com, 239-566-8740

CHRISTMAS EVE  3 p.m., 3:15 p.m., 5 p.m., 5:15 p.m., 10 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  7 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 1:15 p.m.

■ St. Peter the Apostle, 5130 Rattlesnake Hammock Road, stpeterchurch.naples.net, 239-774-3337

CHRISTMAS EVE  3:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 9 p.m., 9:30 p.m. (Creole), midnight (Spanish)

CHRISTMAS DAY  8 a.m., 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. (Spanish), 4 p.m. (Creole)

■ St. William, 750 Seagate Drive, www.stwilliam.org, 239-261-4883

CHRISTMAS EVE  2:45 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 6:15 p.m., 10 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  7 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m.

NOCATEE

■ Capilla Católica de San Juan Diego, 5247 S.W. Highway 17, 863-494-2611

CHRISTMAS EVE  6 p.m. (Spanish)

NORTH FORT MYERS

■ St. Therese, 20155 N. Tamiami Trail, www.sainttheresechurch.net, 239-567-2315

CHRISTMAS EVE  4 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  8 a.m., 10 a.m.

NORTH PORT

■ San Pedro, 14380 Tamiami Trail, www.sanpedrocc.org, 941-426-2500

CHRISTMAS EVE  5:30 p.m., midnight

CHRISTMAS DAY  7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 10:45 a.m.

OSPREY

■ Our Lady of Mount Carmel, 425 S. Tamiami Trail, www.olmc-osprey.org, 941-966-0807

CHRISTMAS EVE  3 p.m., 5 p.m., 7 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m.

PALMETTO

■ Holy Cross, 505 26th St. W., 941-729-3891

CHRISTMAS EVE  4 p.m., 9 p.m. (Spanish)

CHRISTMAS DAY  8 a.m., 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. (Spanish)

PARRISH

■ St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, 12001 69th St. E., www.stfrancesxcabrini.org, 941-776-9097

CHRISTMAS EVE  4 p.m., 6 p.m., midnight

CHRISTMAS DAY  8 a.m., 10:30 a.m.

PORT CHARLOTTE

■ San Antonio, 24445 Rampart Blvd., www.sanantoniocatholicchurch.com, 941-624-3799

CHRISTMAS EVE  3:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 9 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  9 a.m.

■ St. Charles Borromeo, 2500 Easy St., www.stcharlespc.org, 941-625-4754

CHRISTMAS EVE  4 p.m., 6 p.m., midnight

CHRISTMAS DAY  7 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. (Creole)

■ St. Maximilian Kolbe, 1441 Spear St., Stmaxcatholic.org, 941-743-6877

CHRISTMAS EVE  4:30 p.m., 4:35 p.m., 8:30 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m.

PUNTA GORDA

■ Sacred Heart, 211 W. Charlotte Ave., www.sacredheartfl.org, 941-639-3957

CHRISTMAS EVE  4 p.m., 10 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  7 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m.

SANIBEL

■ St. Isabel, 3559 Sanibel Captiva Road, www.saintisabel.com, 239-472-2763

CHRISTMAS EVE  5 p.m., 10 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  10:30 a.m.

SARASOTA

■ Christ the King, 1900 Meadowood St., www.Christthekingsarasota.org, 941-924-2777

(All MASSES IN LATIN)

CHRISTMAS EVE  midnight

CHRISTMAS DAY  8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m.

■ Incarnation, 2901 Bee Ridge Road, www.incarnationchurch.org, 941-921-6631

CHRISTMAS EVE  4 p.m., 7 p.m., 10 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  7 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m.

■ Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, 6600 Pennsylvania Ave., 941-755-1826

CHRISTMAS EVE  3 p.m., 5 p.m., midnight

CHRISTMAS DAY  7:30 a.m., 10 a.m.

■ St. Jude, 3930 17th St., www.stjudesarasota.com, 941-955-3934

CHRISTMAS EVE  4 p.m., 11 p.m. (Spanish)

CHRISTMAS DAY  7:30 a.m., 9 a.m. (Spanish), 10:30 a.m., noon (Spanish)

■ St. Martha, 200 N. Orange Ave., www.stmartha.org, 941-366-4210

CHRISTMAS EVE  4 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 9 p.m. (Vietnamese/Hall), 10 p.m., midnight

CHRISTMAS DAY  7:30 a.m., 8 a.m. (Spanish/Hall), 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., noon,
noon (Vietnamese/Hall), 5:30 p.m.

■ St. Michael the Archangel, 5394 Midnight Pass Road, www.stmichaelssiesta.com, 941-349-4174

CHRISTMAS EVE  4 p.m., 10 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  8 a.m., 10 a.m.

■ St. Patrick, 7900 Bee Ridge Road, www.churchofstpatrick.org, 941-378-1703

CHRISTMAS EVE  4:15 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 7 p.m., 10 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m.

■ St. Thomas More, 2506 Gulf Gate Drive, www.stthomasmore.org, 941-923-1691

CHRISTMAS EVE  3 p.m., 5 p.m., 10 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  9:45 a.m., 11:30 a.m.

SEBRING

■ St. Catherine, 820 Hickory St., www.stcathe.com, 863-385-0049

CHRISTMAS EVE  4 p.m., 7 p.m., Spanish, 9 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  8 a.m., 10 a.m., noon (Spanish)

VENICE

■ Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., www.epiphanycathedral.org, 941-484-3505

CHRISTMAS EVE  3:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 9 p.m. (Polish), midnight

CHRISTMAS DAY  7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m.

■ Our Lady of Lourdes, 1301 Center Road, www.ollvenice.org, 941-497-2931

CHRISTMAS EVE  3 p.m., 5 p.m., 8 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY  8 a.m., 10 a.m., noon

WAUCHULA

■ St. Michael, 408 Heard Bridge Road, 863-773-4089

CHRISTMAS EVE  10 p.m. (Bilingual)

CHRISTMAS DAY  8:30 a.m., 10 a.m. (Spanish), 11:30 a.m. (Spanish)

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