Benedict XVI on the Paschal Candle

From Benedict XVI’s Vigil Mass sermon in 2012… the last he celebrated in St. Peter’s:

Dear friends, as I conclude, I would like to add one more thought about light and illumination. On Easter night, the night of the new creation, the Church presents the mystery of light using a unique and very humble symbol: the Paschal candle. This is a light that lives from sacrifice. The candle shines inasmuch as it is burnt up.  It gives light, inasmuch as it gives itself. Thus the Church presents most beautifully the paschal mystery of Christ, who gives himself and so bestows the great light. Secondly, we should remember that the light of the candle is a fire. Fire is the power that shapes the world, the force of transformation.  And fire gives warmth. Here too the mystery of Christ is made newly visible. Christ, the light, is fire, flame, burning up evil and so reshaping both the world and ourselves. “Whoever is close to me is close to the fire,” as Jesus is reported by Origen to have said. And this fire is both heat and light: not a cold light, but one through which God’s warmth and goodness reach down to us.

The great hymn of the Exsultet, which the deacon sings at the beginning of the Easter liturgy, points us quite gently towards a further aspect. It reminds us that this object, the candle, has its origin in the work of bees.  So the whole of creation plays its part. In the candle, creation becomes a bearer of light. But in the mind of the Fathers, the candle also in some sense contains a silent reference to the Church. The cooperation of the living community of believers in the Church in some way resembles the activity of bees. It builds up the community of light. So the candle serves as a summons to us to become involved in the community of the Church, whose raison d’être is to let the light of Christ shine upon the world.

Let us pray to the Lord at this time that he may grant us to experience the joy of his light; let us pray that we ourselves may become bearers of his light, and that through the Church, Christ’s radiant face may enter our world (cf. LG 1). Amen.

 

Some sharing options...

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Benedict XVI and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Benedict XVI on the Paschal Candle

  1. Traductora says:

    The bees! Beautiful, beautiful meditation, as always. Thank you for putting this up.

    This Easter has been a little distressing to me because of the attacks on BXVI by traditionalists, who are for some reason infuriated by his recent letter and are calling him every (ugly) name in the book, even worse than what the leftists are saying. They’re merely calling for him to be stifled…

    I know we’re all disappointed that he resigned, but we won’t know why in this lifetime. And right now we need his intellectual brilliance and glowing faith. The game isn’t over yet.