Carved into the soft wax of each Paschal candle is a message about the holiness of time. We don’t think of time as a thing to be consecrated like water, oil, or bread. Nor is time tangible, like the hallowed space of a church or the grounds of a cemetery. How can time, a reality we can’t hold in our hands or visibly perceive, be made holy?
Yet as the presider at the Easter Vigil cuts the numerals of a new year into the Easter candle’s surface, he declares: “Christ yesterday and today, the beginning and the end . . .” We’re grateful that Christ is the healer of yesterday, with its broken dreams and misplaced allegiances, words uttered in haste that can’t be unspoken. We affirm that Christ is the light of today, with so many fresh choices to be discerned. And, thank God, Christ is present at the start and end of every journey, so missteps can be retraced and the true path regained.
All time belongs to Christ, the priest proclaims, carving numbers into wax. What a stirring idea! We know too well what can happen in the space of a year or a moment. Sickness can overtake the world. Falling in love may comically rearrange our priorities. Disappointment or loss drops us down a well of despair. An act of sudden kindness restores hope.
Time is an ocean of possibility. We must seek its consecration, making the future a holy destination to which we can all travel together.