Catholic Activity: Mary Candle I
Incorporate this Advent custom into your home in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
With such a glorious feast as this during the month of December, we are almost tempted to give up all hope of doing much penance during the season of Advent. On December 8 we celebrate the wondrous moment when the Blessed Virgin began her existence in this world. At the same time we celebrate the sublime privilege by which Mary, alone among all human beings and in virtue of the future merits of Christ, was preserved at the very first moment of conception from the stain of original sin. It is true, of course, that in origin and in principle this great feast does not have any relationship with the time of Advent. It was fixed on December 8 in order to separate the feast by nine months from the date of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin on September 8. However, in celebrating this feast we may easily enter into the spirit of Christmastide, for the feast is like the dawn of the Sun of Christmas. Mary is our hope, guide, and mother along the path of salvation.
The vigil of the Immaculate Conception is an opportune time to introduce the children to the practice of lighting a special Advent candle in Mary's honor. The Advent candle expresses symbolically the words of Isaias, "There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of this root." A beautiful candle is placed in a candleholder, which is covered with a white silk cloth tied together with ribbon. The candle is then placed before an image, statue or ikon of our Lady before which the family prays to the Mother of God. This ancient custom preaches its lesson with an eloquent simplicity which is comprehensible to little children. The covered candleholder represents the rod out of the root of Jesse, Our Lady, from whose womb will come the Saviour of the world. The candle represents Christ, the Light of the World, who shall come to dispel all darkness and stain of sin. In conjunction with this little ceremony, one of the family could tell of the purity and childlike simplicity of our Blessed Mother, and of how she came to be the mother of us all.
Activity Source: True Christmas Spirit by Rev. Edward J. Sutfin, Grail Publications, St. Meinrad, Indiana, 1955