OK catechists, today we continue with another Lenten activity…
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.