Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

From the June AD 2004
Our Lady of the Rosary
Parish Bulletin

    Question: Why has the Easter Candle not been lit during this week’s Masses? (The week after Ascension Thursday.)

    Answer: The Easter Candle—usually called the “Paschal Candle”—is a symbol of the risen Christ. It is blessed at the Easter Vigil after the priest carries the light of a newly kindled fire into the Church, proclaiming that it is “Lumen Christi—the Light of Christ.” It is a pillar of wax made by virgin bees, representing the virginally conceived flesh of Christ, into which are inserted five red grains of incense which represent His wounds.

    This is the night in which Thou didst formerly cause our forefathers, the children of Israel, when brought out of Egypt, to pass through the Red Sea with dry feet. This, therefore, is the night that dissipated the darkness of sinners by the light of the pillar. This is the night, which, at this time throughout the world, restores to grace, and unites in sanctity, those who believe in Christ, and who are separated from the vices of the world and the darkness of sinners. This is the night in which, destroying the chains of death, Christ arose victorious from the grave.

    The Paschal Candle is used later in the Vigil service in conjunction with the blessing of baptismal water, for Easter (together with Pentecost and the Epiphany) is a traditional feast for the Baptism of adult converts. During the blessing, three times, each more deeply, the priest immerses the base of the burning candle into the water, saying each time:

        May the virtue of the Holy Ghost descend into all the waters of this font. [While the Candle is immersed, he breathes on the waters in the form of the Greek letter "Ψ."] And may He render the whole substance of this water fruitful with the quality of regeneration.

    The Candle remains lit during the Vigil Mass and the Office of Lauds, and is lighted for the Masses of the Easter season until Ascension Thursday. The Epistle and Gospel of the Ascension describe our Lord’s bodily ascension into the heights of heaven on the fortieth day, so after the principal Mass on Thursday the Paschal Candle is extinguished and remains that way in the sanctuary during the nine days until Pentecost, the feast of the descent of the Holy Ghost upon Mary and the Apostles. The candle is not lighted again, unless baptismal water is again blessed on the Vigil of Pentecost.

    A modern practice has developed in which the Pascal Candle is lighted again for the Masses of Pentecost and its Octave. This is not altogether unreasonable—as we have seen, the Candle is used to symbolize “the power of the Holy Ghost descend[ing] into all the waters of this font”—and the Church refers to Baptism as “a new birth by water and the Holy Ghost.” Yet it must be clearly understood that God the Son and God the Holy Ghost are two distinct Persons for all eternity. It is erroneous to think that the Second Person somehow “morphed” into the Third Person. There may be this danger if one and the same symbol is used to represent first the risen Christ, and then the descended Holy Ghost.

    Sounds like a good sermon topic for Trinity Sunday, which comes the week after Pentecost.


Dei via est íntegra
Our Lady of the Rosary, 144 North Federal Highway (US#1), Deerfield Beach, Florida 33441  954+428-2428
Authentic  Catholic Mass, Doctrine, and Moral Teaching -- Don't do without them -- 
Don't accept one without the others!