The link between God and light is powerful and often occurs in the Christian religion. From the beginning, the light of candles was used to symbolize the light of the risen Christ. A light that illuminates the darkness of the darkest nights. Also, this Paschal candle symbol represents God’s presence in the Bible. The manifestation of his greatness and the first element God created in the beginning.
Jesus speaks of the “light of the world” when he refers to himself and his disciples. In Matthew 5:16, we can read: ” So let your light shine before men. So that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven “.
The Paschal Candles for the Christian community
The Paschal Candles in the Christian liturgy have a very profound meaning. It symbolizes the light of Christ who, after the Passion and death, rises to save the frail, corrupt, and darkened by an evil man. The candle represents grace, Divine love, and forgiveness: Hope and the defeat of death for an awakening in the Eternal Light.
On Easter Eve, the Christian community gathers under the glow of the candle renewing this promise and glorifying Christ’s victory over darkness and sin. The priest who celebrates the liturgy engraves on the candle a cross. Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. To indicate that Jesus is the beginning and end of all things. He also reports the current year to show that Christ has no time. He lives in everyday life among us.
After the rite, the procession begins with the Paschal Candles carried on the head by the singing deacon. At the same time, the ministers and the faithful make up the procession holding a candle. During the parade, the candle is raised three times. (At the beginning, at the entrance of the Church, and in front of the altar). They were chanting Lumen Christi as the people responded to Deo Gratias.
After the second invocation, the ministers light their candles directly from the candle spreading a powerful glow over the community. To indicate that the man is not alone. The light of Christ is distinguished from the darkness; Jesus saves the lost faithful and sinners by showing them the right way.
Representation of Paschal Candles
Uses of the Paschal Candles
The Paschal Candles are also used in other celebrations such as:
- Baptism. One of the child’s parents, ready to receive the Sacrament, lights the white candle directly from the candle. With this gesture, he commits himself together with his spouse, godmother, or godfather so that the child continues to walk in the light of Christ.
- At the funeral. The lit Paschal Candles symbolize the Resurrection of Christ and the mystery of death, reminding us that one day we too will rise again in the glory of God the Father.
- During the Easter Vigil. The protagonist of Holy Week, the Paschal Candles, is turned off only while the parish priest reads the passage from the Gospel that describes the Passion and death of Jesus in detail.
The Easter Vigil
To represent the light of God, on the occasion of the Easter Vigil, the priest lights the Paschal candles. Which are placed in the baptistery and carried in procession. It is an element with great symbolic value. Its light allows us to illuminate the darkness in which men are immersed—deprived of all hope and a new life. A small flame has the strength to rekindle hope and make the faithful shine with the spark of faith in the Lord.
In such a simple gesture, the faithful rediscover themselves as children of light, in perfect harmony with their brothers and God. From the paschal candles, the light spreads and lights the candles of the faithful participating in the celebration and illuminating them with the splendor of Christ. He rises again. from death and defeats evil.
It is a rebirth that unites everyone, washes away all guilt, and forgives all sin.
Easter celebrations and the use of the paschal candles
The paschal candle is the protagonist of all the celebrations preceding Easter, representing the symbol of the path that led Jesus to the crucifixion and resurrection. The flame will be consumed as Jesus was consumed before God for our love. A sacrifice is renewed yearly and represents the symbol of salvation and redemption. The lighting rite during the Easter Vigil begins with the assembly gathered in long darkness so that everyone can participate in lighting the paschal candles, a symbol of Christ, which eradicates the darkness. This is the sign that Christ is risen, and his light will illuminate the path of faith.
After blessing the flame, the priest proceeds with the engraving of a cross on the paschal candles together with the alpha and omega, the first and last letter of the Greek alphabet, to indicate that Christ is the beginning and the end. Of all things. Finally, he also affects the year since Jesus is the Lord of time and history who lives for us.
During these rites, the priest recites:
“ The Christ yesterday and today: Beginning and End, Alpha and Omega. The centuries and time belong to him. The glory and the power for all ages. “
And lighting the paschal candles: “May the light of Christ who rises again dispel the darkness of our heart and spirit. ” Once the rite is concluded, the celebrant himself or the deacon takes the lighted candle into the church. And raises it three times while reciting: Christ the light of the world. Then all the candles are lit, so the church gradually lights up, defeating the darkness.
During the period of Pentecost, the candle is lit in all celebrations until the day of Pentecost. During the mass, it is possible to resort to a particular rite to extinguish the candle as it is solemnly lit during the Easter vigil.
The paschal candles are also used in other celebrations, as required by the liturgy. For example, during baptism, one of the parents lights a candle using the flame of the paschal candles as a symbol of the Holy Spirit, illuminates the faithful, driving away the darkness and washing away the original sin.