Lent and Easter
in the Domestic Church

The Light of the World: Making a Paschal Candle

Peter Fournier and Catherine Fournier

Page 37 in "Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church"

A Paschal candle can enrich your family's observance of the Easter season by bringing the "light of the world" into your home in a concrete way. See CCC 638, 647-55. The candle should have a place of honor in your home, on a family prayer altar, or on the table for all meals, replacing the palms that he there during Holy Week.

Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church

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This "home Paschal candle" is a reminder of the large Paschal candle that is in Catholic churches throughout the world from the beginning of the Easter Vigil until after Evening Prayer on Pentecost Sunday, fifty days later. On the night of Holy Saturday, at the beginning of the Easter Vigil, the Paschal candle is blessed and then lit from a new fire, which symbolizes the Resurrection. This large candle is carried in procession to the altar. The priest or deacon sings, Light of Christ", and all the people answer, "Thanks be to God". Placed on a high stand, this candle symbolizes Christ the Light of the World. It is used for its Resurrection symbolism at baptisms and funerals.

Fortunately a Paschal candle is quite easy to make. If you make one try to attend the Easter Vigil and bring home the blessed fire You can get it from the Paschal candle at church after Mass by lighting a candle from its flame to light your candle with. You can also do this on Easter morning.

(To carry the flame home safely, used melted wax to stick a candle in a tall glass jar. Light this candle with a taper and, when home, light your Paschal candle from it. To reduce the risk of burned fingers or a fire place the candle jar upright inside another, larger, fireproof container partially filled with some non-flammable material such as sand, rice, dried beans, or potting soil. Push the jar well down into this material for stability.)

What You Need

Decorating the Candle

The candle is decorated with symbols, beginning with a cross embellished with the date, and the Greek letters alpha and omega. The alpha and omega are placed above and below the vertical bar of the cross, and the numerals fit in the four corners around the center, as shown in the illustration on this page. The cross, date, and alpha and omega emphasize the words said by the priest at the Easter Vigil: "Christ yesterday and today, the beginning and the end" and "all time belongs to him and all the ages, to him be glory and power through every age for ever. Amen."

Next, you may add other symbols of redemption and resurrection, such as: the lamb with a victory banner, dolphin ancient symbol of redemption), grapes and wheat, peacock the glorious life of resurrection is represented in the glorious fantail of the peacock).

Finally, you will lace incense at the four ends of the lines that form the cross and at its center with the prayer, "By His holy and glorious wounds may Christ our Lord guard us and keep us. Amen." Use cloves for their fragrance and because they look like nails. Poke the candle with a hot skewer, then insert the clove (Even though the cloves are for decoration on the candle and are not burned, they are symbolic of incense.)

When the candle is decorated and everyone is satisfied. ask your priest to bless it.

May it light your Easter celebration!