Wednesday, December 15, 2010

To Follow the Star....

Though its celebration isn't supposed to begin til the pre-dawn hours of the 16th, given the prevalent pastoral need on these shores, at this hour another year of the Stateside edition of Simbang Gabi is already underway from coast to coast.

Alongside over 100 parishes in LA and some 70 in Chicago (where the Filipino-born novena's marking the 25th anniversary of its local debut), reports from San Francisco indicate that no less than 40 of its parishes are holding the traditional "Night Masses" this year -- up from 16 at the devotion's 2006 launch there -- while in Orlando, what began with "a few" churches at mid-decade has grown to 17 this time around. (Not to mention, among many others, the annual horde from Seattle (parish reps, above) who yet again thronged at its annual cathedral kickoff last weekend.)

Back in the Philippines, meanwhile, the First Night (or early morning) went off with its usual flair... literally -- keeping with tradition, fireworks marked the Opening Mass at several churches.

To be sure, such is the Novena's place in Pinoy culture that it once provided the backdrop for, of all things, a McDonald's ad:

And, well, all this stands to illustrate these days' Biggest Story among us.

For most of its history, both culturally and in its numbers, Catholicism on these shores took its lead from points East.

Now, though -- and as never before -- the look, feel, strength and promise of this faith's future in our midst are driven from a markedly different direction beyond our borders: namely, the South and West... the spiritual children of el Cerrito de Tepeyac and the Cathedral of Manila just two groups among many others... yet even so, all the more with each passing year, no days of the calendar serve to signify the Stateside church's most dramatic sea-change in nearly two centuries more than those of this very week.

Then again, that seems pretty providential -- not for nothing, it seems, did Redemption come amid the cold of a winter night... and to celebrate its birth in our place and time, you'd be hard pressed to find a better herald than a standing-room crowd on a weekday evening in the nation's largest cathedral: