Catholic Activity: Paschal Candle for Home
Plan time together as a family during Lent to prepare the Paschal Candle and discuss the doctrine relating to these symbols. It is a fruitful work and truly beautiful when finished. It is saved for Easter morning when the first child downstairs, after taking Jonas out of the fish and setting him ashore, claims the privilege of lighting the Paschal candle after the others have gathered.
The instructions for cutting the cross, the alpha and omega, and the numerals of the year on the Paschal candle are given with the text of the restored Easter Vigil, available in booklet form and also in missals printed since the Vigil was restored.
To make these cuts visible, they may be stained or painted with red oil paint. We add other symbols of the Redemption painted in the same manner as we paint the Christ candle. We have the pelican feeding her young, the cross with grape vine and wheat, the symbol above, the phoenix arising out of its funeral pyre, and the lamb triumphant on an altar with its banner of victory.
The pelican, according to an inaccurate legend, has the greatest love of all creatures for its offspring and will pierce its breast and feed them (this is the inaccuracy: it only appears to do this because of the way it holds its head) with its blood. This is a symbol of the Blood of Christ by which He redeemed us and with which He feeds us in the Holy Eucharist.
The grapes and wheat are symbolic of the Holy Eucharist, the unbloody sacrifice that repeats daily at Holy Mass the bloody sacrifice of the Cross.
The phoenix is a mythical bird of great beauty which was said to die, periodically, on its own funeral pyre, only to arise more youthful and beautiful than ever to begin another life; a symbol of the Resurrection.
The lamb is Christ, the true Paschal Lamb on the altar of sacrifice replacing forever the sincere by insufficient sacrifices of the Jews. The banner is His symbol of victory over sin and death.
At the four points of the cross and at its center we pierce with a hot skewer and insert at each point a clove, like the five pegs of wax and incense (they look like nails) which you see on the great Paschal candle on the altar. The incense for which we substitute the fragrant cloves is a symbol, when burned, of the zeal of the faithful; by its fragrance, of the odor of Christian virtue; by its smoke, of the ascent of the prayer of the faithful to the throne of God.
Activity Source: Year and Our Children, The by Mary Reed Newland, P.J. Kenedy & Sons, New York, 1956