Saturday, April 11, 2015

Burning up the Easter Candle

Courtesy of Jo92
One of my Easter-Octave customs is to burn the Paschal Candle as much as possible. As a result, I had several people remind me the candle was still burning in church. "It's all right; it's supposed to." My reasoning is as follows. The Paschal Candle is mainly used during Easter Season; afterward, it's only lit for baptisms and funerals. Plus, a candle's purpose, it's telos (look it up), is to be burned. Recall the prayer that is sung at the Vigil:

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 from your most holy Church.

So, notice: the Paschal Candle is a "solemn offering" to the Father, an offering of "praise," a gift from the Church.

Well, shouldn't we actually...offer it? When the year is up, and we replace that candle, shouldn't it be mostly...offered?

The Exsultet also compares the candle to the pillar of fire that led Israel out of slavery. And the prayer goes on to say:

Therefore, O Lord, we pray you that this candle, hallowed to the honor of your name, may persevere undimmed, to overcome the darkness of this night...

May this flame be found still burning by the Morning Star: the one Morning Star who never sets, Christ your Son, who, coming back from death's domain, has shed his peaceful light on humanity, and lives and reigns for ever and ever.

"May (it) persevere undimmed...(and) be found still burning" by Christ.

So I keep it burning, all day, during the Octave. I'm tempted to let it burn all night, but I'd worry about that. After the Octave, I try to light is as much as possible, whether we're having Mass, or I'm hearing confessions, or during exposition.

What do you think?


Shelly said...

What a great idea! Are they supposed to be replaced every year? Last year when our Paschal Candle was finally replaced because it didn't fit properly (it looked brand new), it had the date 2009 still on it!

Fr Martin Fox said...


I don't know if there's a requirement for a new candle, but -- yes, it's pretty routine to get a new one. I suppose if it was a chapel, and not a parish; or if the parish was tight on funds. But, yes, it should be replaced each year.

Woden325 said...

And what to do with the old one after the new candle is blessed? We had a funeral the Saturday before Palm Sunday, and I burned the candle for quite a while before Mass, but there was probably about a foot of candle left when we put the new one out a week later.

Fr Martin Fox said...


Sorry I missed your comment.

The old candles tend to be put away. They can still be used; I've heard of places where the candle is chopped up to make shorter candles, which are used for other purposes.

Also, the candle companies will take them back and give a little credit. So what I do is save the one from last year -- just in case! -- and then after that, we turn 'em in for credit.