It is a strange new world. But when you stop and think about it, Mary is standing at the foot of the cross and her son says to her, “woman, here is your son” and then looking at John he says, “here is your mother”. A strange new world.
And then shortly after the body of her son disappears and they say he has risen from the dead. A strange new world.
And then in the upper room, Mary and the apostles are greeted by her son, not an apparition but in the flesh, and there is Thomas sticking his fingers in the wounds, it is a strange new world.
As a child I was told to grow like a willow tree and not an oak or maple. For the oak or maple does not like to change and when change happens they tend to die. But the willow bends with the wind and endures the changes around it. The willow adapts and continues to grow.
It is a strange new world but change is something that the scriptures and Jesus constantly call us to. For the “I” must diminish and Christ must increase, is a constant reminder that we are called to grow and growth demands change.
We will adapt and we will rise and gather again. Jesus did not promise to take our struggling away, he promised to be with us in our struggles. Jesus did not promise an end to death, he promised eternal life with Him.
I often get asked why I insist on making my own Easter Candle. There are a number of reasons. One, it's actually kind of fun; it’s that working with your hands and creating something special. Two, it's carrying on a tradition I learnt from Fr. Larry. Three, and most important, because it is in keeping with the Vigil mass.
At the beginning of the Easter Vigil a fire is lit and blessed. This new fire begins the vigil, for it represents the inflaming of the heavenly desire we should each have in our hearts as a response to God’s love. The desire in our hearts should be to love God in the same manner God has loved us; the God who laid down his life for each of us.
Once the fire is lit and blessed the Easter, or Paschal, Candle is prepared. In most places the candle has been prepared ahead of time and the priest/bishop merely traces over what has already been cut or placed on the candle.
The markings are as follows:
After that the priest continues. Five holes representing the wounds of Christ should have been place in the cross. One above where the vertical line was cut, one in the center of the vertical line, hole two, one at the bottom of the vertical line, hole three, at the left side of the horizontal line is hole four and one the right side of the horizontal line is hole five. Into each of these holes the priest places a grain of incense. After placing the grains of incense in the holes the priest will place a small nail into each of the holes to help us remember Christ nailed to the cross. The five grains of incense inserted into the candle in the form of a cross recall the aromatic spices with which His Sacred Body was prepared for the tomb, [remind us] and of the five wounds in His hands, feet, and side. As the priest/bishop places the grains of incense in the holes or as he touches the prepared nails he says:
The priest/bishop then lights the Easter Candle saying or singing “May the light of Christ rising in glory dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.”
Generally the Deacon, following the thurifer then carries the lit Easter candle into the church. At the doors of the church the Deacon proclaims “The Light of Christ” and the people respond “Thanks be to God”. After this proclamation the priest and other ministers light their candles from the Paschal (Easter) candle and share that light with those entering the church. If a fire cannot be started outside then the preparation prayers of the candle and the fire is omitted, and the procession starts with a simple lighting of the candle and procession from the back of the church to the front.
When the procession arrives at the middle of the church the Deacon once again proclaims "The Light of Christ" and the people respond "Thanks be to God." Again when the procession reaches the Altar the Deacon proclaims "The Light of Christ" and the people respond "Thanks be to God." One would hope that by the time the Easter (Pascal) Candle reaches the Altar the people would have filled the church with light and silence. The focal point of all of this is the Light of Christ come into the world. Each of us by our baptism takes the light of Christ to the world. Our commissioning at the end of every mass is to go out into the world taking Christ with us and returning with the needs of the world so we might pray for the needs of the world.
When the Easter (Paschal) Candle is in its stand beside the Ambo and everyone is in their places the Deacon goes to the Priest/Bishop seeking his blessing so that he might proclaim the Paschal praises in a worthy and fitting manner. This prayer is called the Easter Proclamation or the Exsultet. There are two forms both a long and short form but NOW: here comes the important part. In both the long form and the short form these words must be said/sung. “On this your night of grace, O Holy Father, accept this candle, a solemn offering, the work of bees and of your servants hands, an evening sacrifice of praise, this gift of your most holy Church." The pure beeswax of which the candle is made represents the sinless Christ who was formed in the womb of His Mother. The wick signifies His humanity, the flame, His Divine Nature, both soul and body. The work of making the candle is a joining with God in God’s creative power.
During the year, as the candle is used for the Easter season, for baptisms, funerals, and sometimes even weddings, we see the candle burn down. It should not retain its shape or size. AS it burns down we are reminded that time does not stand still and that our time on this earth is running out, have we changed. We, like the candle, must diminish so that Christ might increase. The Easter Candle is a reminder of Christ in our lives and our need, our calling, to be transformed to be healed from every form of evil and sin.
Why do insist on making my own candle? Because the liturgy of the church invites me to.
Fr. Kevin Tumback is Pastor at All Saints Roman Catholic Parish in Lethbridge, Alberta.
Fr. Derek Remus is Associate Pastor at All Saints Parish.