21 May 2022

Extinguishing the Paschal Candle

 There is a particular problem here for church building where the Usus Authenticus and the Usus Deterior of the Roman Rite are both in frequent use. It is distracting and unseemly to have the Candle standing in the Sanctuary ... and unlit.

Historically, there have been many different local usages with regard to the removal of the Candle. During the Gospel of the Ascension; after the Gospel on Ascension Day; after Mass, or after None, or after Compline, or at the eleventh hour on Ascension Day; the Friday after Ascension Day; the Wednesday after Ascension Day. But, in some places, we find: the Vigil of Pentecost; 'at Pentecost'; at Compline of Pentecost; or (at Worcester) on Trinity Sunday! Bishop Grandisson's rules at Exeter are not consistent: but in one rule the Candle remains until Pentecost. 

And the Usus Authenticus itself has an ambiguity. If one celebrates the Vigil of Pentecost, one is supposed to bring the Candle back into use for that liturgical event.

Messy? A bit, surely. 

Many will disagree with me; but I rather feel that the neatest solution in churches frequented by followers of both Uses would be to keep the Candle in use either until the Compline of Pentecost, or (so as to draw laudable attention to the Octave of Pentecost) until after None on the Saturday before Trinity Sunday. 


Michael Gormally said...

Father, I have the utmost respect for your intellect, and, more importantly, for your deep commitment to defending authentic Catholic faith and practice. I read your blog every day.

But is the question of when and where you light a paschal candle really worthy of your or anyone's attention?

Mark said...

I am aware of the Lord smiting a paschal candle lit after Ascension.

phaedruscj said...

Contrary to another comment I find these questions illuminating. :) It may not be the most important topic but is refreshing to explore a topic other than the same old controversies over and over again.

Pelerin said...

I can remember being deeply moved when I attended Mass on Ascension day for the first time and the Paschal Candle was blown out immediately after the Gospel. I wonder why this powerful symbol has been discontinued. I have the opportunity tomorrow of going to a TLM and will be curious to see if this custom is maintained.

Moritz Gruber said...

You suggestion rests, I assume, on the principle that, as you say,

>>It is distracting and unseemly to have the Candle standing in the Sanctuary ... and unlit.

I do not grant that. I think, in fact, that even where the Old Rite does have a Church to itself, the Paschal candle should remain in the Sanctuary until at least the Vigil of Pentecost - see below for why that -, and unlit even if all other candles are lit. What a beautiful representation of Ascensiontide, to have it still there, but not burning. Yes, Ascension is a feast of joy, but it does have this "now our Lord has left us" moment.

However, I agree for the Feast of Pentecost; Christ ascended sends the Holy Spirit from Heaven. It would obviously be unseemly to have an unlit Paschal candle *then*, which makes it difficult to use the usual "until the Ember Saturday of Pentecost" for the time how long it should stand there; so either bring it out or borrow that particular feature from the New Rite and have it in, lit, on Pentecost (but perhaps only the Sunday, or Sunday and Monday, seeing that Monday has the well-known Joh 3,16 verse in the Gospel).

Rubricarius said...

It is an interesting question - to me at least. There does seem something slightly odd about having the candle brought back on the morning before Pentecost and lit again for the blessing of the font.

George said...

Take the paschal candle out after the Gospel of the vigil of the Ascension. Bring it back for the Whitsun vigil, where its role is to resit the Easter vigil.