The first sound of the Easter season is the crackling of new fire. Even before the presider greets the people, the Easter flame burns to warm the hearts of believers and to fascinate our eyes which long to behold the glory of God.
The Easter candle that leads the procession into the church at the Easter Vigil becomes a dominant symbol for the season. Tall, bright, decorative, stately, it creates the first light for the faithful and dispels the darkness which belies our sins. The Easter candle first announces the news of the resurrection, followed by the Glory of God, the Alleluia, the Gospel, the homily, and, of course, the Eucharist. All join to make the same proclamation. Christ is risen!
So big is this message that it takes fifty days to celebrate. The Easter candle burns in our churches every day during these seven weeks, proclaiming: Christ is risen, and we too may rise!
The Easter candle appears in our liturgy on two other very significant occasions: baptisms and funerals.
Whenever infants are baptized, we light the Easter candle. The resurrection of Christ foreshadows our own resurrection. Baptism incorporates us into the body of Christ and gives us a share in his resurrection. Whenever the baptismal waters are poured, the Easter candle burns bright. Parents and godparents light a baptismal candle from the Easter candle. They accept the responsibility of keeping the flame of faith alive in the heart of the newly baptized. Parents carry this candle home, where it may shine on baptismal anniversaries to symbolize the first news of the risen Christ.
We also light the Easter candle at funerals. In the midst of our grief, we call upon the symbols which enliven our faith. Several images of baptism reappear at the funeral; the sprinkling with holy water, the placing of a white pall (like a white garment) over the casket and the lighting of the Easter candle. Christ rose from the dead so that we too might pass from death to life. Every death reminds us of Easter. And every Easter gives up hope that death is not the end, but the passage from darkness to eternal light.
[Source: St. Paul Roman Catholic Cathedral Bulletin, , Saskatoon, SK, Canada, April 15, 2007]