Catholic Activity: Paschal Candle as a Centerpiece
This Paschal Candle is the center of the Easter table, and is lit at every meal until the Ascension, when it is removed to show that Christ has truly risen.
At breakfast, amidst the platters of sliced ham and scrambled eggs and Kulich and pumpernickel bread and sweet butter and bagels (delicacies obtained at a Jewish delicatessen ), the Paschal Candle, Lumen Christi, is the center focal point. It sits in the middle of the table in a bowl of fresh cut flowers which symbolize our new life (you may have to get these at the florist if Easter comes early; count it as an extravagance similar to Mary Magdalene's "wasting" the ointment). Easter holy water, newly blessed, has been added to the flower water. The candle is the largest we could buy. It must be, since it will be lit every meal until Ascension, when it is removed to show that Christ has truly risen. Five cloves, symbols of Christ's wounds, are affixed to it by the father in the shape of a cross. Maria Augusta Trapp, in her book, Around The Year With The Trapp Family, describes the ceremony of the lighting of the Paschal candle in their parish church in Stowe, Vt.:
.... With a knife the priest cuts a cross on the candle. Then the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, the Alpha and Omega, and finally the numbers of the year, . . . while he says:
'Christ yesterday and today the Beginning and the End Alpha and Omega His are the times and ages To Him be glory and dominion Through all ages of eternity Amen.'
Then he fixes five blessed grains of incense (cloves for us) in the cross on the Paschal candle, saying:
'By His holy and glorious wounds may He guard and preserve us through Christ the Lord. Amen.'
.... The pastor . . . solemnly lights the Paschal candle, saying:
'May the light of Christ In glory rising again, Dispel the darkness of Heart and mind.'
Activity Source: Family Liturgical Customs No. 4: Easter by Ethel Marbach, Abbey Press Publishing Division, St. Meinrad, Indiana, 1964