Although I was in the spirit of having Christian home again, I still needed a little spiritual reflection. I spent the morning at Mary Queen of the Universe Basilica in Kissimmee, FL. I went there on Christmas Eve morning with the main intention of going to confession. I made my confession, reflected on my penance, and wandered the church as the workers transformed the altar into a beautiful Christmas scene with the empty manger awaiting the baby Jesus to be placed there that evening. On Sunday I tried to imagine what this church would look like when decorated and could never have imagined it being more breathtaking.
I removed myself from all the distractions, the traffic, the things I need to still do. Instead, I took time to kneel before Mary and thank her for answering God’s call to deliver to the world our Savior, Christ the King.
As I left the church, a small adoration chapel off to the right caught my eye. I had to know. I stepped into this chapel and it literally took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes. In this small chapel, the entire space was transformed into the stable. The figures were life-sized and the straw transformed the entire space. The smell of this straw made me envision being in that stable the night of sweet baby Jesus’ birth. I spent some quiet time in there trying to imagine what the world was like that night. I wondered about Mary and Joseph’s anxiety as they were all alone, about to give birth. I wondered how bright that star was that called the shepherds and wise men. I thought about how weary Joseph and Mary were from traveling and giving birth. I wondered how long they stayed and when they began to travel again. I thought about that beautiful cry from the baby and Mary holding him close and feeding him. And I reflected on the angel appearing and the heavens singing. I was prayerful for this glorious night changing the world.
We attended the evening vigil mass. We claimed three of the last seats and people continued to pour in to honor our King. The basilica holds 2,000 people. And still they stood along the walls and in aisles. The choir (only 8 members) and orchestra were breathtaking, singing unfamiliar Latin hymns. The mass was beautiful and all for us. All because of the babe born in a manger.