The Paschal Candle is a liturgically rich symbol of the Catholic faith and we receive a new one every year at the Easter Vigil. The evening of Holy Saturday, a fire is lit in a metal bowl, called a brazier. This is important because we receive this new and blessed fire which serves to light the Paschal candle. This is then processed in to the dark Church as a way of showing Christ's light and resurrection.
The candle is a representation of Christ Himself, and because of this it is purposefully positioned upon on a Paschal candle stand that is set next to the altar. During the vigil, the priest will press five grains of incense into the candle. These grains are molded into wax nails and inserted into the candle to represent the five wounds of Christ. The incense calls to mind the spices that were used to prepare Christ's body for the tomb.
During the entire 50 days of Easter you will see the candle remain in the sanctuary and it will be lit for all liturgies during this time. After Pentecost the candle is moved next to the baptismal font where it will be lit during all baptisms throughout the year. This indicates to us that the light of Christ is being passed to each person that comes into the Church, beginning with the Catechumens at the Easter Vigil. You might also see the candle lit at a Catholic funeral Mass which is meant to remind us that the baptism which the deceased received was a death to self and a resurrection into the life of Christ. Now they are entering into physical death and hopefully a new life with Christ.
For Your Own Home
The Paschal Candle is one of the most sacred and enduring elements in Christianity, so we bring this custom into our home too. We use it at Sunday family dinner, family and personal prayer time, and when we are feeling like we need the light of Christ in our day. We do this to bring into our home all that the Paschal Candle represents; Jesus being our light, dispelling spiritual darkness, our own baptisms and the promises we made, and the hope of the resurrection.