Friday, May 16, 2008


The candle that has come to most readily symbolize Christ our Light is the Paschal candle also known as the Christ candle or the Easter candle.

The Paschal candle is a larger candle usually adorned with a cross, the current year, and an Alpha and Omega; Christ the first and the last. Five grains of incense are held in place, usually at the points and center of the cross, with five wax nails. These represent the wounds of Christ.

After the fire is blessed at the Easter Vigil, the Christ Candle is lit and (usually the deacon) carries Christ into a dark church that represents the world and calls out three times, “Christ our light!” To which the people respond, “Thanks be to God!” From this one flame, divided but undimmed, all people present receive a light for the candles that they are holding. Though the candles are held by individuals, the light emanating from it is still the light of Christ who enlightens us. During the Exsultet (The Easter Proclamation) this is sung, “Accept this Easter candle, a flame divided but undimmed, a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God. Let it mingle with the lights of heaven and continue bravely burning to dispel the darkness of this night!”

At the blessing of the water the candle is dipped into the water. Can you see the connection between Christ making holy the waters of baptism by being baptized by St. John and the candle the symbolizes Christ being touched to the water during the blessing of the holy water? Is that cool or what?

The Candle is then given a place of honor next to the ambo and burns throughout the Easter season, that time when Christ resurrected from the dead and appeared to his disciples. At Pentecost then it is moved to the baptistery and used for baptisms and funerals.

After the baptism a candle is lit (yet another candle to add to our growing list) from the Paschal candle and presented to the baptized. “Receive the light of Christ. Parents and Godparents, this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. This child of yours has been enlightened by Christ. He/She is to walk as a child in the light. May he/she keep the flame alive in h/h heart. When the Lord comes, may he/she go out to meet Him with all the saint in the heavenly kingdom.”

And so it happens. When the baptized dies, the Paschal candle is brought to the center isle and to stand at the head of the casket and lit to symbolize Christ indeed leading the faithful to our heavenly homeland.

No comments: