As a child my grandparents lived in Southern Louisiana, in the small town of Breaux Bridge. It had a country like setting with one traffic light in the center of town. The town was about ten miles from the interstate and had a populated of about twentyâ€“five hundred people. When I was six years old, one of my most memorable childhood experiences was going to Midnight Mass at Saint Joseph Cathedral. Going to Midnight Mass with my parents, grandparents and two older brothers was something I always had looked forward to. .
Pulling up to the cathedral, they had blocked off streets in order to extend the parking lot to make enough space for all the cars. The cathedral itself was fairly large with a spacious chapel. Outside there were a large number of pine trees that lined the sides of the church, all over 50 feet tall. They were decorated from top to bottom with huge ornaments, lights and topped with blinding stars. The grounds were well maintained, with a life-size crucifixion in all its glory just outside the entrance to the cathedral. Above the cathedral door, was a round stained glass window ringed with lights. .
The inside of the chapel was decorated festively with holly, red candles and a huge Christmas tree. There was a crib laid at the foot of the altar, as it had been every Christmas. The priest led the procession into the church and carefully placed the statue of the sleeping baby Jesus in the crib. I held my breath at the end of mass when the priest raised his arms. I was expecting a great miracle to happen: a lighting flash, or a loud thunderclap. However, God did not make a miracle happen. The priest wished us peace, happiness and a Merry Christmas. .
Christmas is the one occasion were the church pulls out all the stops. All the cleaning and decorating made the church the most beautiful sight to see in the entire world. At that time the people were getting together to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.