Tuesday, May 16, 2023


Eastertide at All Saints' Benhilton
(click on the photo - twice - to enlarge it)

During this last week one of my friends said to me, 'Now that Easter is behind us . . .' As you would expect, I took the opportunity to remind him that - strictly speaking  - Easter is not a day, or even a long weekend! Easter is a whole season lasting for 50 days, sometimes called 'THE GREAT FIFTY DAYS' of the Church calendar. Easter begins with the Easter Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday and culminates with the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

That's why we use the term 'Eastertide' for this time of the year.

It’s also why the big Paschal Candle, a symbol of Jesus the risen Lord, is prominently displayed near the nave altar and lit for all services throughout the entire fifty days. 

Then, when the Easter season comes to an end, the Paschal Candle is moved to a place of honour in the baptistry by the font, where it is lit during baptisms. The candles given to the newly baptised are lit from it, reminding them (and the rest of us!) that in the miracle of baptism Jesus joins us to his dying and rising, and gives us his light to shine in a world where darkness can often seem to have the upper hand. 

The Paschal Candle is brought back to the altar and placed near the coffin during funerals.  This is a powerful sign to mourners that the risen Jesus shares his victory over death with all his people, and that even the most tragic death and our deepest grief cannot destroy that victory. The dancing flame of the Paschal Candle reminds us, in the words of S. Augustine of Hippo, that “we are an Easter people, and ‘alleluia’ is our song”.