The Guéranger Blog

Welcome to the Gueranger Blog! You have stumbled across the notebook I use to record my thoughts as I read through Dom Prosper Gueranger's 15-volume set, The Liturgical Year. I do not have any special expertise in liturgy, but I have some general knowledge of Catholic theology and an enthusiasm for Gueranger's magnum opus. Think of it as the Liturgical Year fan site!

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Follow the Pillar

Canisius | 17 May, 2007 17:43

Once again, I have overlooked the obvious. The Easter candle is erected on Easter, of course, and it symbolizes the light of Christ. And I knew that it is not up at other times of the year. But I have never paid attention to see when it was taken down; I suppose I had assumed it was taken down at the end of the Easter season. Gueranger says that it is taken away on Ascension Thursday (IX, 175):

It was first lighted on the night of the Resurrection, and was to remind us, by its forty days presence, of the time which Jesus spent among His brethren, after He had risen from the grave. The eyes of the faithful are fixed upon it, and its light seems to be burning more brightly, now that we are about to lose it.

Now that Gueranger has pointed it out, I will be watching to see what happens at Mass! And let me point out how this connects with other comments Gueranger makes. In his commentary on the Easter candle (VI, 560-561), Gueranger says that the candle is a symbol of Christ, but also points out that its pillar-like form should remind us of the pillar of flame and cloud that led the Israelites on their trek out of Egypt and across the Red Sea. As this journey through the Sea looked forward to Easter triumph and the mystery of Baptism, so the pillar of cloud looked forward to the Easter candle that is dipped in the waters of Baptism before the catechumens go through; and this candle is itself a symbol of Christ, whom we follow when we are baptized into his death.

This is why Gueranger says (IX, 170) that when Jesus leads the apostles out of Jerusalem to the mount of ascension he "goes before them, as heretofore the pillar of fire led the on the Israelites." And when this "pillar of fire" ascends into heaven, the Easter candle is taken away.

This image of Christ as the pillar of fire also connects to Gueranger's closing meditation on the Ascension (IX, 180-182). He speaks of Christ's entire life as a journey on which we are to follow him, including the end:"

All the mysteries of the Word Incarnate were to close with His Ascension; all the graces we receive are to end with ours [that is, our ascension]. This world is but a figure that passeth away; and we are hastening through it to rejoin our divine Leader."

Jesus continues as our pillar of fire all the way to heaven, and we continue as the people of Israel following him through the desert to the promised land.

UPDATE: I just noticed that I blogged on this candle business once before, and a nice fellow named Christopher Uhl left an informative comment.


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