SHERMAN OAKS (CBSLA.com)  —  ‘Tis the season and at the Cathedral of our Lady of the Angels the faithful came together Thursday evening in downtown LA.

They assembled, of course, to celebrate a midnight mass.

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KCAL9’s Tom Wait said the faithful came together – family and friends side-by-side, to celebrate Christmas.

The Cathedral is one of the most iconic houses of worship in Southern California.

“For us it’s kind of a like a tradition from when you’re very, very young,” said Alfonso Tellez.

He came to the cathedral with his mother and his extended family. They’re originally from Nicaragua.

“We came here to the states and it just follows through. I’m in my 40’s now and I think it’s something implanted in me that I’m going to keep doing for life,” he said.

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The mass before Christmas is a time to reflect.

Not far away in Sherman Oaks — at St. Francis De Sales —  parishioners sang and prayed and spread a message of love.

“This is what Christmas is all about. So this is the most important thing I’ll do all weekend long,” said one parishioner.

Annie Rupp and Fatima Valerio are both away from their families this Christmas – so they came to mass together.

“I’m from back east and this year is the first year I’ve not been home for Christmas,” said Rupp. “So we always go to mass together. It’s a big deal.”

“We always normally go to mass at midnight as a family and it means a lot to me since my family is not here,” said Valerio.

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Perhaps the true meaning of the holiday — when a church full of strangers becomes a family — for those who could not be at home.