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spring 2012



featuring the art of Bill Rogers

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Light from the Paschal Candle
spring 2012
the easter candle clipart

Sometimes I am asked what made me accept confirmation in the Catholic Church after years of being raised Methodist. For them I think they see this moment as a rejection of my Methodism. Far from it. For me the decision to become confirmed as a Catholic was a more radical acceptance of everything positive my Methodist heritage offered me. It's hard though to respond when asked why I made that embrace. Part of the difficulty is that there are so many reasons. It would be hard to pick just one. But for now that is what I'm going to try and do. I'll offer you The Paschal Candle. Anyone with any experience with Methodist liturgy will probably know about this candle. It is the prominent one usually displayed in a tall candle holder that bears the following elements:

~ a cross or chi rho symbol
~ the symbols alpha and omega
~ the numeric year, for example, 1967, 2017
~ five grains of incense, often encased in wax in the form of nails. These pierce the cross and recall the five wounds of Jesus.

In both Methodism and Catholicism this candle represents the light of Christ and is usually a part of the Easter event. Then this candle remains with the Church until the following year when the next year's candle is introduced. But why would Methodists be using a Paschal Candle in the first place? Well, that is an interesting question. According to Dan Benedict one reason is ..."because [the] church wants to enter into the great mystery of the Resurrection in dramatic and sustained ways."

For me the presence of the Paschal Candle, marks, in a special way, the presence of Christ. It is one of those vital elements that link various Christian communions with the Catholic Church, a graced element common to a large body of Christians. And it is one of the most visual elements that pointed the way for me as I mapped out the terrain between my youth group years and my adult experience of faith.

Remember though that the Paschal Candle is just one of a multitude of reasons I found to follow through on my Wesleyan Methodist roots and unite more fully with Holy Mother Church.

Happy Easter to all!