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Bishop requests that followers attend “Simbang Gabi”

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The Archdiocese of Pampanga advised the faithful to attend the “Simbang Gabi” despite the relaxation of prohibitions against coronavirus illness 2019 (Covid-19) (dawn masses).

San Fernando Archbishop Florentino Lavarias urged parishioners to physically participate in the traditional nine-day pre-Christmas celebration in a circular.

Such Eucharistic festivities, he said, are best held inside churches.

The archbishop declared that parish churches, shrines, and chapels are the preferred places to have Simbang Bengi (Gabi) Masses rather than shopping centers, motels, workplaces, resorts, radio and television studios, and private residences.

Let’s aggressively encourage our parishioners to attend the Simbang Bengi Masses and all other Masses going forward in our chapels and churches rather than just virtually or online, he continued.

Although live streaming and broadcasting of Masses offer “valuable aid to the sick and those who are unable to travel to church,” Lavarias observed that attending Mass in person is still a different experience.

Virtual Masses, he continued, “risk separating us from a close contact with the incarnate God.”

The Pampanga archdiocese’s leader declared that online Masses lack the sacramental human encounter.

“The Liturgy must be personally attended in order to be fully, actively, and consciously participate in. Additionally, genuine communion cannot ever be replaced by spiritual communication “Added he.

The Archdiocese of San Fernando stated in the circular that the evening Simbang Gabi Masses may begin as early as 6:00 pm, while the final morning mass will begin at 6:00 a.m.

The Simbang Gabi is a novena of Masses held in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary more than a week before to Christmas.

The anticipated Simbang Gabi Masses in the evening will be from December 15 to 23, in addition to the morning novena masses, which will be conducted from December 16 to 24.

Due to the epidemic, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) released a circular in March 2020 exempting the faithful from Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation while advocating for the provision of the Eucharistic celebration via virtual means.

The Conference, however, exhorted the faithful to return to the “normality of Christian life” in October 2022, when the church edifice serves as the location for the performance of the liturgy, particularly the Eucharist.

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