Lent/Easter Family Activity
Make a Paschal Candle for your family!
The Paschal Candle is the big, tall candle near our Baptismal Font at HNOJ. This candle, also called the Easter Candle, is lit for the first time each year at the Easter Vigil. We get a new Paschal Candle every year at Easter.
What To Do:
First, you'll want to get a candle. You may want to get one of those wider, pillar candles to give more surface space to decorate with your Paschal symbols. Try to find an 8-12 inch candle for decoration space, but also so you'll be able to burn it throughout the year if you would like.
(Traditional Paschal Candles for Churches are at least 51% pure beeswax. If your family would like to get a candle that is more than half beeswax, you can find them online through St. Patrick's Guild or Autom - you can search "Altar Candles, Beeswax" on their websites, they have a wide variety of sizes and lengths)
Second, you'll want to choose a few symbols to decorate your candle.
Below is a list of symbols along with the meanings of each symbol that typically adorn a Paschal/Easter Candle.
The symbol of a centrally located cross signifies that the candle is a paschal, or Christ, candle. The cross and the flame of the candle are symbols that the flame still burns despite the pain and suffering Christ endured on the cross. Paschal candles often have five nails, one placed in the center and one placed at each of the four ends of the cross, symbolizing the wounds Jesus suffered on the cross.
(instead of nails, you could use whole cloves, thumb tacks, straight nails or upholstery nails)
The Letter for Alpha and Omega:
The Greek letters that begin and end the alphabet are alpha and omega. On the Paschal candle these letters symbolize that...
- God is the beginning of all things
- God is the end of all things
- From the very beginning of time and creation to the very end of time God is always present
- From the very beginning of time and creation to the very end of time the Word of God is always present
The Year symbolizes that...
- God is not just there at the beginning and end of time
- God is always present at all times and has been present throughout all time and all history
- God is with everyone that is currently gathered near the paschal candle
Decorations that Signify Redemption or Renewal:
Decorations that symbolize redemption or renewal are often placed around the upper and/or lower sections of the candle.
- Grapevines and grapes
- A pelican feeding her babies
- Wheat and grapes
- A Lamb with a banner of victory
- A Phoenix rising out of the ashes
As for materials for decorating, get creative!
Talk together as a family with how you'd like to decorate your Paschal Candle.
*You could print out images, cut and glue them onto your candle, you could use felt to cut out symbols and glue them on, you could use cord, rhinestones for decoration, sequins, glitter glue, paint, puff paint, etc!
**There are also kits available that you can purchase to create your own Paschal Candle at home.
Set your Paschal Candle aside until Easter and light it during your Easter Celebration!
Light it when you pray together throughout the new Church year as a family.
Mini-Lesson: What does the Paschal Candle symbolize?
This Candle is a rich symbol of our faith. Each year at HNOJ during Holy Week, there is the Watch Fire. During the Easter Vigil service on Holy Saturday night, the fire is taken from the Watch Fire. This is a "new" and blessed fire that lights the Pascal Candle. The Paschal Candle is then carried in procession into the dark church. The "new" fire serves as an image of the Resurrection. The candle, which represents Christ himself, is placed on a special Paschal Candle Stand (which is located at the Baptismal Font at HNOJ). Five grains of incense are inserted into the candle to recall the aromatic spices that were used to prepare Christ's body for the tomb, and the wounds in His hands, feet and side, which remained after His resurrection.
The word "paschal" is the equivalent of the Greek paschs, derived from the Aramaic pasḥā and Hebrew pesaḥ, meaning the passing over. In the Old Testament it refers to the night the Israelites left Egypt for the Promised Land, when God struck the houses of the Egyptians but left the Israelites untouched, thus "passing over" or sparing them.
With Christianity, the word "paschal" takes on a new meaning, referring to Our Lord's passion, death, resurrection and glorification. These events stand at the center of our faith. God's saving plan for us was accomplished by the redemptive suffering and death of Jesus. His resurrection and glorification are our assurances of eternal life - if we follow His words and His way.
Next time that you see the Paschal Candle at HNOJ, or in your home, may you too think of the death and resurrection of our Lord which is represented, and the faith, hope and eternal life it means for all of us!
Lenten Family Activity Night - Stations of the Cross Eggs
> 15 Plastic Easter Eggs
- 14 eggs of one color (for Lent, could be Purple)
- 1 egg of a different color (for Easter, could be yellow)
> 15 Slips of Paper
- OR an item for each Egg that you can write on for each station (could be pieces of colored paper or could be wooden hearts painted red - discuss as a family what you'd like to use and make it your own!)
> Specific Items for each egg to depict each station:
- Piece of String
- Cross (could be a Popsicle stick cut into the shape of a cross, etc. can get creative!)
- Miraculous Metal, which has Mary on it (could print a small picture of Mary, could paint a Mary peg doll, could put in a Rosary, or even a small piece of blue felt to symbolize Mary)
- Hand Shaped Button (to symbolize a 'helping hand' - could cut out a hand-shape from paper)
- Scrap of white fabric (could also sketch Jesus' face on it - could also use a cotton ball )
- Another Band-Aid
- A tissue
- Another Band-Aid
- Small garment cut from felt (would look like a small tank top) with a piece of string tied around it (doesn't have to be fancy, could simply be a small square piece of felt or of material)
- A Nail
- Small plastic crucifix (usually used to make rosaries)
- A Picture of Michelangelo's Pieta (can simply be a small printed picture and 'laminated' with packing tape or regular tape)
- A Rock
- NOTE: You do not need to use the materials listed above, get creative! Talk to your family about what you'd like to use to symbolize each station for your family's set of Station of the Cross Eggs.
> 1 Container
could be an egg carton or small box to label "Lenten Eggs"
Below will be information for each egg.
NOTE: You'll want to grab a sharpie and label each Egg #1 - 14 (if you want to label the "Easter" Egg #15 you can, otherwise you can leave it blank as it is a different color).
Under each egg it will say "To Write."
This is what you will put on your slip of paper or other item your family has chosen to use to write information about each station on for your Station of the Cross Eggs.
Then there will be a small list of what to include in that egg and to close it when everything is together to work on the next egg.
Once you've completed each of your Station of the Cross Eggs, place them in your container and label your container "Lenten Eggs" or "Station of the Cross Eggs"
Pull them out before Easter or during your Easter Celebration to read through together as a family. Each family member could get a different egg (or multiple) and read them aloud in order and state what is inside each egg and what it symbolizes.
Families can also pray through the stations of the cross with full station readings while doing the eggs as well!
-- -- -- -- --
TO WRITE: Station 1: Jesus is condemned to death
Piece of String
The Piece of String symbolizes Jesus' hands being bound.
*Include the station information and the piece of string, close egg.
TO WRITE: Station 2: Jesus takes his cross.
*include the station information and the cross your family wants to use for station 2, close the egg.
TO WRITE: Station 3: Jesus falls for the first time.
Note: Write a #1 on this Band-Aid. That way you can easily tell which Band-Aid goes where you take items out when you use them.
*Include the station information and the #1 Band-Aid, close egg.
TO WRITE: Station 4: Jesus meets his Mother.
Miraculous Metal (or other)
The Miraculous Metal is to symbolize Mary
*Include the station information and a Miraculous Metal or what your family has decided to use to depict Mary, close egg.
TO WRITE: Station 5: Simon helps Jesus carry his cross.
Hand-shaped Button (or other)
*Include the station information and hand-shaped item your family wants to use to depict a 'helping hand', close egg.
TO WRITE: Station 6: Veronica wipes Jesus' face.
Scrap of white fabric (or other)
*Include the station information and scrap of white fabric, close egg.
TO WRITE: Station 7: Jesus falls the second time.
Note: Write a #2 on this Band-Aid. That way you can easily tell which Band-Aid goes where you take items out when you use them.
*Include the station information and the #2 Band-Aid, close egg.
TO WRITE: Station 8: Jesus meets the Weeping Women
The Tissue is to symbolize drying their tears.
*Include the station information and the tissue, close egg.
TO WRITE: Station 9: Jesus falls for the third time.
Note: Write a #3 on this Band-Aid. That way you can easily tell which Band-Aid goes where you take items out when you use them.
*Include the station information and the #3 Band-Aid, close egg.
TO WRITE: Station 10: Jesus' clothes are taken away
Small garment cut from felt with string tied around it (or other - see example image)
*Include station information and the small garment, close egg.
TO WRITE: Station 11: Jesus is nailed to the cross
*Include station information and small nail, close egg.
TO WRITE: Station 12: Jesus dies on the cross
Small Plastic Crucifix (usually used to make rosaries)
*Include station information and small plastic crucifix, close egg.
TO WRITE: Station 13: Jesus is taken from the cross.
A picture of Michelangelo's Pieta (can be a small printed picture and "laminated" with packing tape or regular tape)
*Include station information and small picture of the Pieta, close egg.
TO WRITE: Station 14: Jesus is put into the tomb.
*include station information and small rock, close egg.
TO WRITE: Jesus rises from the dead! He is risen! He is alive!
Leave egg empty, just like the tomb was empty!
*Include resurrection note, close egg.