40 Ideas for 40 Days – Lenten Activities: Making a Paschal Candle

OK catechists, today we continue with another Lenten activity…Paschal-candle

Making a Paschal Candle

  • Ask if any of the young people have experienced a power outage during a storm at night time
  • Talk about how frightening it can be to be surrounded by darkness and how we rely on flashlights and candles to provide light for us at these moments.
  • Explain that we use the image of “darkness” to talk about the bad things that are going on in our world.
  • Have the young people sift through some newspapers and magazines to find pictures and stories that are examples of “darkness” in our world.
  • Explain that, when the young people were baptized, a large candle stood off to the side of the baptismal font, symbolizing the light of Christ that dispels the darkness from our lives.
  • Show a picture of a paschal candle.
  • Tell the young people that the season of Lent is a time when many adults are preparing to be baptized on Holy Saturday and that we prepare with them, renewing our commitment to our own baptism.
  • Explain that at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday, the entire church is dark and then a fire is lit and blessed. This fire is then used to light the Easter candle, also called the Paschal candle and that it is carried into the church to symbolize the light of Christ that dispels the darkness.
  • Invite the young people to make their own Paschal candle.
  • Ahead of time, take some cardboard or foam display boards (36 x 48) and cut them into “pillars” that are 4 inches wide and 36 inches tall.
  • Provide each of the young people with a pillar.
  • In the middle of the pillar, have them create a cross by gluing strips of red fabric in the shape of a cross. The vertical beam should be a 1/2 in x 8 in. Then, create the horizontal beam by placing one strip of fabric (1/2 in. x 2 in.) on the right side of the vertical beam and an identical strip on the left side.
  • Have the young people use thick permanent markers to write in the numerals of the current year in the 4 corners of the cross as shown here: paschal-candle-cross-and-year
  • Have the young people trace (using the permanent marker) the Greek alpha above the cross and omega below the cross as shown in the picture above, left.

  • Explain that alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet and that they represent Christ as “the beginning and the end” (see Revelation 1:8; 21:6; and 22:13)
  • Invite the young people to add other symbols to the candle such as a lamb with a victory banner (to symbolize Jesus’ Resurrection) or grapes and wheat (to symbolize the Eucharist) or a dove (to symbolize the Holy Spirit) or some decorative “borders” above and below the cross.
  • Finally, have the young people cut out (of cardboard or foam) and color a flame to afix to the top of the candle.
  • Encourage the young people to take their paschal candles home and to place them prominently as a reminder of their call to renew their baptism this Lent.


40 Ideas for 40 Days
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40 Ideas for 40 Days
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About Joe Paprocki 2751 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

5 Comments on 40 Ideas for 40 Days – Lenten Activities: Making a Paschal Candle

  1. Thank-you very much for this! We really enjoyed making them. Our 3 small children wanted ones that they could carry around and play with, and this worked really well. We actually glued 2 pieces of cardboard together to make them sturdier, and then wrapped some packing tape around them. We just used red construction paper for the crosses. Thanks for providing links for the clip art, as well! The littles coloured the lamb’s banner, and then used cross stickers for borders. It required some doing on my part, but so very worth it. Thanks again!

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