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The Lighting of the Paschal Candle

From the Book of Divine Worship - The Proper: First Part - The Great Vigil of Easter - The Service of Light

In the darkness, fire is kindled; after which the Celebrant may address the People in these or similar words:

Dear friends in Christ: On this most holy night, in which our Lord Jesus passed over from death to life, the Church invites her members, dispersed throughout the world, to gather in vigil and prayer. For this is the Passover of the Lord, in which, by hearing his Word and celebrating his Sacraments, we share in his victory over death.

The Celebrant may say the following prayer:

Let us pray.

O God, through your Son you have bestowed upon your people the brightness of your light: Sanctify + this new fire, and grant that in this Paschal feast we may so burn with heavenly desires, that with pure minds we may attain to the festival of everlasting light; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Depending on the nature of the congregation, it may seem appropriate to stress the dignity and significance of the Easter candle with other symbolic rites. This may be done as follows:

After the blessing of the new fire, an acolyte or one of the servers brings the Paschal candle to the celebrant, who cuts a cross in the wax with a stylus.

Then he traces the Greek letter alpha above the cross, the letter omega below, and the numerals of the current year between the arms of the cross.

Meanwhile he says:

  1. Christ yesterday and today (as he traces the vertical arm of the cross),
  2. the beginning and the end (the horizontal arm),
  3. Alpha (alpha, above the cross),
  4. and Omega (omega, below the cross),
  5. all time belongs to him (the first numeral, in the upper left corner of the cross),
  6. and all the ages (the second numeral in the upper right corner),
  7. to him be glory and power (the third numeral in the lower left corner),
  8. through every age and for ever. Amen (the last numeral in the lower right corner).
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When the cross and other marks have been made, the priest may insert five grains of incense in the candle. He does this in the form of a cross, saying:

1. By his holy 1
2. and glorious wounds
3. may Christ our Lord425
4. guard us
5. and keep us. Amen. 3

The priest lights the candle from the new fire, saying:

May the Light of Christ, rising in glory, dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.

Any or all of the preceding rites may be used, depending on local pastoral circumstances.

The conference of bishops may also determine other rites better adapted to the culture of the People.

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