Catholic Activity: Mary Candle II
The feast of the Immaculate Conception (the patroness of the United States) falls at the beginning of Advent on December 8. Although this feast celebrates Mary being conceived without original sin inher own mother's womb (St. Anne), this relates to the Advent spirit of expectation for Christ. Since she was stainless and pure, she was chosen to be the Mother of God. Helen McLoughlin provides the custom of the covering of a Mary candle to symbolize the Mother of God expecting her Savior. This can also be an instrument for beginning sex instruction.
Following closely is the feast of the Immaculate Conception. It is our only daughter's baptismal day, a day of great joy because (she is adopted) her rebirth in Christ is such a wonderful event in her life and ours. On our Lady's altar Sheila arranges a single red rose in a vase and covers it with a blue lace or net to signify the Mystical Rose. On an end table in the living room, she sets up the candle which will be lighted during Christmas. Over the candle goes a white mantle. It is usually made of satin and lace, but crepe paper gathered with ribbon does equally well.
Sometimes we make our own candle by attaching a figure or picture of the Infant to a broad candle. We have also used a lovely "Lady Brett" candle which has a decorated creche and Christ Child cut into the base. Imported from Germany, these candles are available in gift and department stores across the country.
Our candle also serves as a basis for giving sex instructions. "Blessed is the fruit of thy womb" becomes a reality to the littlest children who love to learn about the Baby in Mary's immaculate body. Mary was God's throne room for nine months, and her part in our redemption is very great. Only He knows how often the Holy Spirit works upon children's souls as they peek under the mantle to see the Infant whose coming they await with great expectancy. On December 8 we recite the Magnificat, and sing hymns at Mary's altar.
Some families have the custom of placing a candle, decorated with a small white or blue ribbon, before a statue or picture of the Blessed Virgin on the feast of her Immaculate Conception. They light the candle during meals and evening prayers. It serves as an eloquent reminder of Mary's eager expectation of the "Light of the World," and helps members of the family keep their own light of grace burning brightly as the best preparation for His coming.
Activity Source: Family Advent Customs by Helen McLoughlin, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1954, 1979