One of the greatest symbols of our Easter celebration (which goes on until Pentecost, May 28th this year) is the Easter Candle. The Easter Vigil begins with a blessing of fire, followed by a blessing of the Easter Candle. Symbols are traced on the candle: a cross, sign of our salvation; the Alpha and Omega (first and last letters) of the Greek alphabet, showing that Christ is the Beginning and the End of all things; and the current date, showing that all times belong to Christ. Five symbolic “wounds” are inserted in the Candle, as the priest says, “By his holy and glorious wounds, may Christ the Lord guard us and protect us. Amen.” Then the Candle is lit with the blessed fire and carried in procession to the sanctuary, accompanied by the words, “The Light of Christ.”
Then the Easter Proclamation (Exsultet) is sung. Among other things, the Candle is likened to the pillar of cloud and fire that led God’s Chosen People out of slavery into the promised land—just as Christ leads us out of slavery to sin to the promised land of heaven. The flame of the candle, which has been spread to all the candles held by the faithful in the church, is described as “a fire into many flames divided, yet never dimmed by sharing of its light,” just as the Light of Christ is never diminished by being shared.
This splendid symbol of the Risen Christ will remain near the ambo for the entire Easter Season; then it will be placed near the Baptismal font, where it remains for the rest of the year except for during funerals, when it is put in the sanctuary again. In this way we see how the Risen Christ guides us from our infancy, when we are baptized, to our death, when he leads us to heaven. May that Light of Christ be our guide always!