Thursday, May 17, 2012
The Paschal Candle is extinguished
As with many things that used to take place during the Liturgy (e.g. the unveiling of the statues and images during the Easter Vigil), the paschal candle is now extinguised after the Mass on Pentecost Sunday. As it was lit with great solemnity at the Easter Vigil, should a certain solemnity not surround its extinguishing?
Jesus, the Light, has gone. Yes, I know that, as an early father wrote, as He came to earth without leaving heaven, so He returns to heaven without leaving earth. Yet, symbolically, the extinguishing of the paschal candle during the Mass somehow helps us visualise and be present at the Lord's ascent into the clouds. We experience "sacramentally" the departure of the Lord as the apostles themselves did.
As one fire - which began in the form of a huge fire outside our churches in the night of Easter - is extinguished, so we await the coming of a new Fire as the apostles and the whole Church are baptised in the Spirit at Pentecost.
The time between Ascension and Pentecost is a time of waiting.
Come, Holy Spirit...