In my parish, Holy Name, the largest organized ethnic group are the Filipinos. Last night I attended the 2nd annual Holy Name celebration of Simbang Gabi, a festive mass with many connections to Filipino culture. It centers around the star of Bethlehem, celebrating the choice Mary made for us, and encouraging us to ourselves become a star of Bethlehem, welcoming that young family into our hearts each year anew.

I was actually surprised that not that many other non-Filipinos attended, since it had been publicized for weeks leading up to it. Maybe because it's only the 2nd one. Anyway, many of the songs were in Tagalog, and had the music/lyrics in a program they had distributed. It was great to get the chance to immerse in the ritual worship set to the tone of a completely different culture. One of the best parts was recognizing the Gloria being sung, in Tagalog. Ritual can be such a powerful thing! Because I've sang this week in and week out all my life, it was such a familiar thing even hearing it in another language. It was moving to stand there and listen to the words of worship that I share in common with them.

Glory, glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father.
We worship you, we give you thanks,we praise you for your glory,
we praise you for your glory.

Lord, Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father.
Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin
of the world, have mercy on us.
You are seated at the right hand of the Father,
receive our prayer, receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord.
You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father. Amen. Amen.

For any of you Catholic Liturgists out there, you may be a bit thrown off by something I just mentioned about the Gloria. We sang it, in the middle of Advent! As Catholics, we sing this throughout the year, except during the patient waiting of Advent and Lent. Well, the Simbang Gabi mass has received permission from the Church to belt out the Gloria. :) Apparently, the RCC has decided to recognize the Simbang Gabi as a very appropriate form of preparation for the birth of Christ. :)

It's also no coincidence that this took place on the shortest day of the year, the Winter Solstice. Guess it's just another sign of all the heritage we've blatantly ripped off our pagan ancestors. ;-) (How's that for a false dichotomy?)