Built of Living Stones 84: The Blessing of the Fire at the Vigil Service

The  Easter fire is on a par with veneration on Good Friday and the reservation of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday, as a consideration for the liturgical year and how it impacts a building’s design:

§ 84 § In some circumstances parishes may be able to create a permanent place for lighting the Easter fire. In others, the rite may be conducted in the gathering area immediately outside the church. While safety is always an important consideration, a flame to “dispel the darkness and light up the night” is needed to achieve the full symbolism of the fire.”* In climates and circumstances where weather precludes lighting the fire outdoors, a more limited fire can be enkindled indoors with the proper accommodations for ventilation, for heat and smoke detectors, for local fire regulations, and for surrounding the space with non-combustible materials.

The note from the CDWDS’s Circular Letter Concerning the Preparation and Celebration of the Easter Feasts, no. 82: “Insofar as possible, a suitable place should be prepared outside the church for the blessing of the new fire, whose flames should be such that they genuinely dispel the darkness and light up the night.”

One pastor I knew was satisfied with an alcohol fire at the Church entrance. It wasn’t until the ntext pastor was assigned that I could budge that “tradition.” One parish I visited had a bronze “container/sculpture” that housed the wood for the Easter fire. It was placed on the edge of a courtyard outside the church. For a once-a-year event? a priest asked me. Yes. Even for just once a year–it’s that important.

All texts from Built of Living Stones are copyright © 2000, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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