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Chapel: A hidden Bethlehem


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To me this chapel evokes what must have been the peace of the manger in Bethlehem. There, hidden and unbeknownst to the world, Our Lord was born. No doubt his guardian, St. Joseph, had arranged the unlikely place well, transforming that cave into a warm and hospitable abode for his Virgin Spouse and the newborn King. There He was adored by shepherds and by the humble rulers of a foreign people, who had come seeking the King of Kings. The manger in Bethlehem ... perhaps it is the statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague above the altar, or perhaps it is because I know that this chapel in Woodlawn is a hidden, humble, yet beautifully crafted beginning of something that will be much greater some day. This chapel, so carefully arranged in the basement of a rectory, is the temporary setting for the Shrine of Christ the King Sovereign Priest until such time as the gutted interior of the spacious and majestic church building next door has been restored.

Here I come every day for the “Mass of Ages”—the Mass in the traditional form of the Latin Rite. A passageway between the church building and the rectory brings me into a hidden away courtyard. From there I walk down a few steps into the serene and peaceful space of our chapel of Christ the King. The tabernacle, where the King of Kings dwells in his flesh, is the focal point. Above it stands the image of the Infant Jesus, crowned and holding the orb, in beautiful vestments which change according to the liturgical observance of the day. To his right, his Holy Mother, our Queen; to his left, St. Joseph, his guardian. Around the room, upon the dark woodpaneled walls, the stations of the cross--the only surviving items from the church. At the back, a statue of the Sacred Heart reminds me of why we come here each day. As I turn and genuflect before taking my place, my eyes fall upon the pictures of St. Francis de Sales and St. Therese of the Child Jesus on either side of the altar, portraits of some of my sainted friends who at that very moment intercede for me before the throne of God, in Heaven.

There among their company, at long last, I hope some day to be.