The Paschal Candle is one of the joyful symbols of Eastertide. First lit at the Easter Vigil, it stands in the sanctuary for forty days, reminding us that the Resurrected Christ—the Light of the world—is among us.
This tradition extends back to the early Church. Catechumens were baptized—as they usually are to this day—at the Easter Vigil Mass. After their baptism, they held candles to illustrate the light of Christ now shining in their souls. These special candles were lit from one which represented the Resurrection, the “Paschal Candle.”
This symbolism remains the same. After the Resurrection, Our Risen Lord is with us on earth in a special way. Every time we see the Paschal Candle shining at Mass, we rejoice that the Bridegroom is among us.
The Candle’s presence in the sanctuary over the next forty days represents the time Our Risen Lord spent on earth with His Mother and the Apostles. When the Feast of the Ascension arrives, this special period comes to a close.
The Candle is extinguished at the Ascension Mass because Our Lord has returned to His Father. He is still with us—as God, He is omnipresent, and He also remains with us in the Blessed Sacrament. But He no longer walks among us. He has gone to prepare heaven for us, and we remain to prepare ourselves for Him.
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